Rany Battikh

GBHD Color Consolizer by Gamebox Systems

Less than a year after announcing and releasing their first consolizer project, the VGA-based DMG-Consolizer, Gamebox Systems just revealed their second entry into their Gameboy consolization line of products: The GBHD Color Consolizer.

As the name implies, the GBHD Color Consolizer aims at turning the original DMG’s successor, the Gameboy Color aka CGB, into a small console that outputs 720p digital video (and 32khz analog converted to digital audio) through HDMI and is controllable via a single 7-pin SNES controller port.

In order to consolize a GBC, an original motherboard must be first provided by the user, preferably from a unit with a defective screen, then that same donor PCB must be severed in half, separating the bottom controller/speaker part from the top main CPU/RAM section (the part that actually matters here). Only then, and in conjunction with the custom FPGA-based GBHD Color custom PCB, can the original motherboard fit inside of what Gamebox Systems are calling a full case kit.

Note that Gamebox Systems are also offering an option they’re calling EZ case kit that doesn’t require any physical modification to be done to the motherboard.

In the video department, the GBHD Color uses linear scaling to achieve a 5x 800×720 letterbox image. I spoke to Postman, the main developer behind the GBHD Color and he informed me that there is a single frame buffer implemented in the FPGA block RAM, so the system isn’t completely lag-free although it falls, in my opinion, in the almost negligible/acceptable lag spectrum for casual players. Speed runners should consider adopting other options.

The GBHD Color seems to be feature-packed compared to the more streamlined DMG consolizer and here is a list of what it has to offer:

  • SNES Controller input with support for 1st party, 3rd party, and wireless SNES controllers.
  • Output resolution of 1280×720 (720p)
  • Micro USB power input
  • Simple and easy to use on screen display (OSD)
  • Two Scaling options
    • 5x Linear scaling of the original screen to 800×720 in a letterbox format
    • Non-linear scaling (stretched) to 1280×720 in full screen format
  • 6 different scanline modes for an extra retro feel
  • Customizable border colors in linear scaling mode
  • Optional Litkit integration
  • Power and reset via OSD, no physical buttons required
  • 14 wire install
    • 8x wires for controller connection
    • 3x wires for audio connection
    • 3x wires for 5v, ground, and reset

Also note that the GBHD Color treats original GB games just like a normal GBC would. But while there is no option for custom-palette swapping during gameplay, the user can still pick through the original palettes included in the GBC’s bios upon boot-up.

Installing the kit does require soldering as shown below, but anyone with decent equipment and a little bit of experience (and a good technique) should be able pull this off without too much trouble as the soldering pads are laid out fairly spaciously on the custom PCB, so there is no tight spots to worry about here.

Here are some few very welcomed upgrades over the DMG Consolizer that I would like to point out for you:

  • the inclusion of a SNES port instead of an NES port opens up wider possibilities as far as controller choice goes (I mostly enjoy using the HORI SGB Commander when playing GB games on the Super Game Boy) and makes use of the extra buttons to access the OSD;
  • an OSD where the user gets to navigate the system’s options instead of worrying about a few button combinations to toggle through palettes and scanlines;
  • a micro-USB port for power instead of tracking down a 2.5mm jack PSU.

Postman also informed me that he’s currently experimenting with the Wiimote expansion controller port so controllers like the OEM SNES Classic model can be directly plugged in into the GBHD Color, in future revisions.

The kit including the GBHD Color custom PCB, a SNES controller port PCB, ribbon cables, a micro-USB cable and a full case is priced at $130. Opting for the EZ case will bring down the final price to $125. The prices are quite comparable to those of a GBA consolizer LCD version kit. So it’s up to you to decide which one to get depending on your needs and preferences.

Pre-order the GBHD Color Consolizer here https://bit.ly/3lHlGQw . The first batch will tentatively ship in mid-late October.

For more information about the project, feel free to join GameBox System‘s Discord server: https://discord.gg/wHfkD4


For further discussion, follow me on Twitter: