Hardware hackers got Doom running on the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros player

Some intrepid souls cracked the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros player, and of course they got to work making Doom run on it.


When we revealed our impressions of the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros player on Shacknews, the conversation about just having 3 small games on Nintendo’s little limited-edition clock and micro player came up. Could this device be programmed to run other games? A couple hardware hackers recently figured it out, and of course one of their first projects was to get Doom running on the Game & Watch.

YouTuber stacksmashing and fellow hardware hacker Konrad Beckmann recently shared the fruits of their labor in hacking and homebrew programming with the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. player, which launched fairly recently. When we reviewed the device on both Shacknews Editorial and Cortex, some of the community wondered if other games could be loaded into this device. The answer is yes, but not without quite a bit of work as stacksmashing demonstrates. It would appear that the whole device has to be cracked open to get to the motherboard and then some special code must be used to backup and dump the firmware originally programmed into the player. Then the journey to put Doom on it truly begins.

Getting Doom working on the Game & Watch was a lengthy process that involved reverse engineering the device’s MCU and flash memory pin connections to reproduce commands that make the display work. Even then, the onboard RAM of the Game & Watch (around 1MB) and the size of the most applicable version of Doom (4MB) meant reducing the size of the game drastically. There were also a lot of challenges associated with the device CPU’s use of memory. As such, while stacksmashing made Doom technically run on the Game & Watch, it is a very limited version devoid of some textures and sound… but it does work!

The journey to make everything run Doom, from efforts here in the Shack community on things like iOS, to out there in the wild on Porsches, is a noble one. With stacksmashing’s effort, we can now mark the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. player off the list of devices that can do it.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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