Next Thing launched a kickstarter for CHIP about a year ago. The SBC itself
was pretty interesting - 1GHz ARM A8, Mali400, 512MB RAM, 4GB flash, wifi & bluetooth for only $9. But the really compelling thing was the "pocketchip" accessory. It's a sort of case/battery/display/keypad combo deal that the CHIP plugs into, turning it into a blackberryish handheld console.
It was weird and cool enough for me to back the KS at the "kernel hacker" level - giving me a total of 6 CHIPs, the pocketchip, and a few other accessories. I've already received all my CHIPs, and the pocketchips are slated to start shipping later this month. Yesterday they announced
that all pocketchips will come with a free, fully licensed copy of PICO-8
. If you've never heard of it, PICO-8 is a "fantasy console" - sort of like an emulator for a system that never existed. It runs LUA-based programs with system limitations that mimic early 8-bit computers/consoles. There is a fairly active developer community using PICO-8, and there are a couple hundred cartridges
available already. They can all be played for free directly in a web browser.
Probably the best part is that the system is designed around easy game creation and editing. There are multiple editors for creating games, sprites, music, etc within the PICO-8 system itself. All cartridges are open/editable, so if you want to see how somebody got a game to work a certain way, you can just open it in the editor and take a look.
If I wasn't already excited about getting the pocketchip in a few weeks, I certianly would be now. It's pretty much the perfect pack-in for a weird, retro handheld like this. If you didn't back the KS, you can still preorder a pocketchip + CHIP combo
for $49, and they'll ship sometime next month after all the KS rewards have gone out.