Blog Home

Play full-color games on this simple Arduino Nano ESP32-based handheld console

Arduino TeamAugust 26th, 2023

There is a thriving Arduino gaming community, with many homebrew video games developed to run on Arduino development boards. Arduboy, for example, produces custom handheld consoles with games that can also run on Arduino hardware. However, many boards have microcontrollers with limited processing power and memory, which means the graphics have to be simple. But Volos Projects took advantage of the new Nano ESP32 to build a portable gaming device with full-color graphics.

As the name suggests, the Nano ESP32 makes use of the popular Espressif ESP32. That has more processing power and memory than most other MCUs, as well as built-in Wi-Fi┬« and Bluetooth┬« adapters. In this case, the ESP32’s impressive power was enough to generate colorful video game graphics at a respectable resolution.

As a demonstration, Volos Projects put together a simple handheld system on a breadboard. Other than the Arduino, this only required a 1.28″ round GC9A01-driven TFT LCD, some jumper wires, and a few buttons. Those are two-pin momentary push buttons, which are nice because they eliminate wiring confusion. Volos Projects then programmed a basic side-scrolling space shooter game to run on this hardware.

That game looks fun and this is a great way to illustrate what you can achieve with the Nano ESP32!

Boards:Nano ESP32