A savvy game enthusiast has successfully hacked a LeapFrog console to run RetroArch, making it a pretty unique emulation handheld.
The enthusiast in question is Bringus Studios, who has been posting miscellaneous gaming content for about a year now. Everything from live game play to making his own custom Game Cube Mini.
The console in question is the LeapFrog LeapsterGS Explorer handheld. Which happens to have just enough power to run both Linux and RetroArch.
In our book, that is a winning combination for an emulation handheld.
LeapFrog LeapsterGS Explorer
The LeapsterGS Explorer uses a proprietary CPU, the LeapFrog LF-2000 (Pollux SoC) ARM9.
That is not unlike the processors used in a lot of the affordable emulators we already know and love.
Even the most recent handheld we have reviewed, the Anbernic RG35xx, uses similar tech.
If you’ve got a bit of software know-how, and are able to flash a new copy of Linux to the Leapster, you’d also be able to load the Linux port of RetroArch to it!
Hacking A LeapFrog
Bringus Studios is not the first person to modify a LeapFrog handheld to unlock its emulation potential, but it was certainly his video that brought this fascinating mod to our attention.
As handheld enthusiasts, it is quite common to joke about ‘hacking’ random devices and turning them into an emulator.
“Can it play Doom?” (By the way, the answer is yes. Doom on the Leapster Explorer.)
Whether a LeapFrog is necessarily one of the best devices to modify is kind of irrelevant.
There is something about mankind that sees anything and everything and wants to know if they can control it. That’s known as a god complex.
And in what felt like the seven days of creation, Bringus Studios was able to kill a PS4, resurrect a Mac Mini, and subjugate a Leapster.
By his own measure, the LeapFrog device makes for a pretty decent emulator for Game Boy, Nintendo, Sega Genesis, as well as some okay game play for Game Boy Advance, Super Nintendo, and even Playstation!
A brand new LeapFrog LeapsterGS Explorer is still available for around $140usd. Which makes it an expensive handheld by today’s standards.
I wouldn’t rush out to buy one. But if your sister or child has one laying around, it could make for a fun little project.
Shoutout to Bringus Studios for exposing us to the marvelous world of LeapFrog modding. We are forever changed.
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Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.