Nearly 40 years on, the original Nintendo Entertainment System (or Famicom in Japan) still holds a certain mystique, with genre-defining games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. The console remains a popular target for emulation, which is what we’ll do here on the bonkers-affordable RP2040 microcontroller paired with an HDMI TV or monitor for display, and with several controller options (including, with a little soldering work, original NES controllers for That Authentic Feel).

The software for this guide is Frank Hoedemakers’ pico-infonesPlus — a veritable rock soup of contributions, starting from Jay Kumogata’s InfoNES, ported to RP2040 by Shuichi Takano (building on Luke Wren’s PicoDVI library), Frank’s work on the SD card menu, and some controller code from Adafruit. That’s a lot of pieces…but we have ready-made .UF2 files to make installation easy on various hardware combos!

Hardware Selection

There are a few ways this can be built, please read through the guide to see what your options are. Parts links are provided as we go. Think about how you might use this…and whether and how you may want to re-use elements for other DIY projects later.

One path uses the Adafruit Feather RP2040 DVI board and SD card FeatherWing. Other paths use the Raspberry Pi Pico development board and either a Pimoroni Pico DV Demo Base or a Adafruit DVI and Micro SD breakout boards. In any case, there may be some additional bits and bobs needed — soldering iron and related paraphernalia, USB cables depending on the path taken, and so forth. These are discussed later, so again, please read through.

There are also different controller options: Sony Dualshock 4 or DualSense USB controllers, NES or SNES gamepads (with some soldering), or Wii Classic Controller, each with some pros and cons which we’ll explain.

All the different builds require a microSD memory card for holding game ROM files. NES games are comparatively tiny, so if you have an old card lying around that’s “too small for anything useful,” this is its moment to shine.

An HDMI cable and TV or monitor are also assumed.

This guide was first published on Jul 17, 2023. It was last updated on May 14, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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