If it can be dismantled, painted and poked with a soldering iron, you can guarantee somebody will try to modify it. From simple cosmetic changes to elaborate electronics projects, hackers have shown their appreciation for Nintendo’s affordable hardware by butchering it in a staggering variety of creative ways.
Read on to see some of our favorites, starting with…
This is the Skittlespider ATS (All Together System) by, erm, Skittlespider. While it looks like a harmless computer monitor from the front, inside it’s a terrifying jumble of circuitboards and wires. The result is that it plays NES, SNES, N64, GameCube, PlayStation and Xbox games, all in one handy unit.
This was made by Metallica Man X, who found out the hard way that it’s not a great idea to put your modded machine together with glue. When the NES board in this one died during construction, he had to hack the case open with a knife to replace it. Still, that’s what modding is all about. You live, you learn.
While some mods are impressive from a technical point of view but not all that practical, this one, by Hailrazer, is something we’d have been happy to buy back in the GameCube days. It looks great; though if Nintendo had ever made a commercial equivalent we think they’d have been able to engineer a more elegant solution to the huge bulk of the DVD drive on the back.
Ramon Stokes proved it was possible to build a business out of modding. Operating as Morpheon Mods, he became one of the best known modders on the net, accepting commissions from companies and wealthy individuals.
He’s vanished from the radar over the last year or so, but film director Kevin Smith and GTA publisher Rockstar are owners of one-off Morpheon consoles, and a small number of machines were sold on eBay.
Arcades used to have Nintendo cabinets – The Vs UniSystem, Vs DualSystem and PlayChoice 10 – with a selection of built-in games. Many of these games were identical to their home counterparts on NES, but a few, including those classics Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt, had significant differences.
You can always play these on a PC emulator, but if you’re a modder you might want to experience them on actual Nintendo hardware. And what better way to do this than to convert a standard NES into something functionally identical to a Nintendo arcade machine? This mod, by engineer Raphael Assenat, calls for some serious skill. Read the walkthrough at raphnet.net and see if you’re up to the task.
If you’ve got a spare flight case, a chunky battery, a portable monitor and some wood, you could produce an N64 laptop like this one made by Hifeno. Apparently it goes for more than six hours on a single charge, which is way better than you can expect from smaller mods. It might be heavy but at least you can get a fair way through GoldenEye before it conks out.
The sound of chip
There’s something undeniably cool about bleepy chipsound music, and as powerful as modern synths and emulators may be, the only way to get that truly authentic retro tone is to use the original 8-bit hardware.
The NES, with its mono sound output, wasn’t exactly designed for high-quality audio, but it’s possible to fix some of its problems. This particular audiophile NES (below) was made by musician and circuit-bender Will Goodden. Joey Mariano, aka chipsound artist Animal Style, sells Game Boys (above) modified for live performance. All the buttons are hooked up to pedals and the Game Boy is mounted on a mic stand, leaving your hands free to play guitar.
French modder Kotomi built up quite a reputation for arty and slightly random projects including an NES that looks like a PS2, an NES that looks like a Wii, and probably the sleekest portable SNES anyone has created so far.
The humble Wii remote has been subject to hundreds of software-based ‘mods’. With the correct drivers, any bluetooth device, from a PC to a mobile phone, can communicate with remotes and Nunchuks, leading to some very creative applications that Nintendo probably never thought of when they were designing the controller.
Remote mods we’ve seen range from simple stuff like controlling Half-Life 2 on a PC to more bizarre inventions such as 3D holography, robot arms and lawnmowers. One man’s work on a head-tracking virtual reality display earned him eight million hits on YouTube and a job at Microsoft, building similar functionality into the Natal camera gizmo for Xbox 360.
Your painting skills will have to be of a high standard to come up with something this slick. Even after you’ve created your design, it takes a lot of effort to clearcoat it and buff it up to a professional finish, but just look at the results. This has to be worth a few weekends of any modder’s time.
How much is it worth to you?
So how much would you pay for one of these loving handicrafts? Let us know in the comments!
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