We all want the power of a full video game console in a portable unit we can carry around with us. And, luckily, handhelds usually only lag one or two generations behind consoles. The problem is that we want to be able to play the console games that we love, because processing power is meaningless without the games. The usual solution is to emulate console games on a smartphone or tablet. Shank Mods took a different route, and crammed an entire Wii console into an Altoids tin.
We’re all familiar with the “but, can it fit in an Altoids tin?” challenge in the hacker community. So, right off the bat, it’s worth noting that this appears to be an extra large Altoids tin and not the standard size. But that hardly matters when you consider everything inside. Shank Mods didn’t just throw an SBC (single-board computer) inside with an emulator. They actually put a real Wii motherboard inside, along with all of the peripherals needed to play games.
The Wii wasn’t large, by any means, but it was certainly a lot bigger than an Altoids tin. That meant Shank Mods had to put a lot of work into trimming the motherboard to make it fit. They cut off entire portions of the motherboard, and relocated some components to stack them. They also built in a battery, LCD, and a complete GameCube-style controller. The battery is small and only lasts about 10 minutes, and the entire thing gets really hot. But, while it may not be practical, it’s still incredibly impressive that Shank Mods was able to fit an entire console into such a small handheld unit.