Pocket C.H.I.P. launches, with Pico-8 as a Pack-in


Today, Next Thing Co. have announced that the handheld expansion variant of their C.H.I.P. Single Board Computer, PocketCHIP will ship to customers with Lexaloffle's 8-Bit fantasy console Pico-8 pre-installed, bringing hundreds of community developed games to this cute handheld computer for an absurdly low $49.


Wait... What? C.H.I.P.? Pico-what? Pocket of Chips?


Back in June last year, Next Thing Co created a Kickstarter to fund the worlds first $9 computer with WiFi and Bluetooth 1GHz ARM CPU and 4Gb of on board flash storage. The campaign was a runaway success with lots of press coverage and raised over $2 million and nearly 40K backers. CHIP's on their own have been trickling through to backers but add-on boards including VGA/HDMI breakout boards were always due to come later. The most interesting of the addon boards though is the PocketCHIP. A Gameboy-esque enclosure with a full QWERTY keyboard, 4.3" touch display and 3000mAH battery for $49 for a true linux on the go

Enter Pico-8


For a full introduction to Pico-8 see my introduction article here but the tl;dr version is that it's an 8-bit style "fantasy console" from Lexaloffle that contains a full game creation environment (code, GFX, sound and music editors) in one tiny, highly restricted package. forcing 8-bit platform style constraints, forcing game makers to pare their game down to the basics and/or get creative with coding tricks, just as was done back in the day when devs had REAL hard constraints.


"We always knew people would use PocketC.H.I.P. to play games, but we wanted to give them something more. The moment we found PICO-8 we knew it was the perfect fit," said Dave Rauchwerk, CEO of Next Thing Co. "Taking things apart was how we all fell in love with engineering. PICO-8 is unique because you can do more than just play games, you can take them apart and see how they work. We hope PocketC.H.I.P. and PICO-8 helps today's future engineers fall in love with craft the same way we did."

"I'm excited to see what the PocketC.H.I.P. crowd will do with PICO-8", said Joseph White, owner of Lexaloffle Games. "It's a perfect fit for PICO-8's central goal of providing an accessible, cute platform for hacking and making things just for the joy of it."



Not too long ago Zep released a Raspberry Pi build for Pico-8 and the second thing I did (after trying the build out on my Pi and tiny screen) was try it on my CHIP*, as this pairing is such an obvious match made in heaven, I'm super excited that NTC and Lexaloffle were able to make it happen on CHIP and specifically on PocketCHIP.

Since CHIP is running Linux under the hood, as well as Pico-8 pretty much any Debian ARM compiled game or emulator should work and just an apt-get install away. Of course with a full linux command terminal for for proper mobile command bashing, and a battery life in the region of 5 hours, this is a must have retrogaming handheld computer that no self respecting game geek should be without.

*The third thing I did was be disappointed that the build was Raspberry Pi specific

Links: 
1) Preorder PocketCHIP (expected delivery June)
2) Original Kickstarter campaign
3) Pico-8 at Lexaloffle
4) C.H.I.P. projects

-Alistair
@ABrugsch

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