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PS1 Handheld Is A Retro Gamer’s Dream Come True

Using ‘lots of hot glue’ and magnetic wire, a modder has created a cool piece of hardware

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Modder YveltalGriffin's "Hanami," a retro PlayStation One transformed into a handheld console, lies flat on a tealish surface with the Final Fantasy 7 start menu on the screen.
Screenshot: YveltalGriffin / Kotaku

Whoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is apparently a liar, as a Florida-based modder has taught Sony’s first PlayStation console how to do something rather unexpected. Specifically, the tinkerer turned the homebound system into a handheld console using a bunch of hot glue and magnetic wires.

YveltalGriffin, an electrical engineer who previously built an adorably cute and portable Wii in April 2021, is back with another creation. This time, he took an OG PlayStation, removed its motherboard, and turned that into a portable console. It’s a cool bit of hardware innovation, as YveltalGriffin had to get real creative to even make the build possible. He has dubbed it “the PS Hanami.”


For starters, think of the PlayStation 1 itself. To get its big motherboard into a small chassis, YveltalGriffin had to cut it in half and fold it like a book. This allowed him to squeeze it into a portable console that’s just seven-ish inches long. Using “lots of hot glue,” as well as “lots and lots of magnet wire,” YveltalGriffin “embraced the jank” to finish the entire project in a single month.


What’s even more impressive is how the PS Hanami runs games. Because the device is too small for a disc drive, YveltalGriffin got it to run Xstation, an optical drive emulator that boots games from an SD card. Combined with an open-source resolution scaler called Shinobi (for a crisper image) and the DualShock’s rumble function, this feels like a retro gamer’s dream handheld.

Mackie Kannard-Smith

YveltalGriffin admitted that the PS Hanami does have a few major issues right now. It has no volume controls, the power button is “finicky” and turns the console off when brushing up against things, and it doesn’t contain any analog sticks (though YveltalGriffin might someday make a “revised version” for games that require them, such as Ape Escape). It also only gets approximately two-and-a-half hours of battery life off a single charge, and because it’s hella janky with zero heatsinks, he said it gets “nice and toasty after a while.”


YveltalGriffin told Kotaku over X/Twitter DMs that the hardest part of the build was “reconnecting the two halves of the motherboard” because of all the tiny wires. Adding dual analog sticks was in the original vision, but he just couldn’t fit both them and the front-facing speakers. As far as games, he’s tested Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Crash Bandicoot, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 2, and Tomb Raider, and they all apparently ran without a hitch.

“I’ve brought this portable to the Midwest Gaming Classic two years in a row,” YveltalGriffin said, “and it’s survived probably 30 hours of playtesting by the public at that event. In terms of gameplay, it behaves exactly the same as a PS1 connected to your TV at home.”


Interestingly, there’s a meaning behind the name. “Hanami” translates to “flower watching,” an annual tradition in Japan of gathering in the spring to celebrate the cherry blossoms blooming. But wait, the PS Hanami doesn’t look like a pink flower.

“At first, I planned on calling the portable ‘PS Hana’ because ‘hana’ (하나) means ‘one’ in Korean,” YveltalGriffin said. “But then a friend of mine from Japan mentioned that cherry blossom viewing was happening for the first time since the pandemic. My Wii portable is called ‘UltraWii Sakura,’ so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to keep the theme going. (And some cherry blossoms are white, so the name still fits!)“


Despite these flaws, YveltalGriffin’s PS Hanami is a remarkable achievement. Just look at this video he uploaded to YouTube showing the handheld running Final Fantasy VII. Now I’ve got just one question for him: How can I buy it? Well, it turns out that I can’t—at least not from YveltalGriffin, anyway.

“This unit isn’t for sale, but similar hand-crafted portables from BitBuilt community members usually sell for around $1000,” YveltalGriffin said. “The PS Hanami was a one-off build and I won’t be taking commissions or building any more of them anytime soon.”


Update, 04/15/24 03:40 p.m. ET: Added quotes from YveltalGriffin.