CircuitMess Nibble aims to fill children’s hobbies of building objects and playing video games together in a single edutainment kit. Traditionally, video game development and hardware engineering have been a deeply complex process. This do-it-yourself portable console, however, makes it simple enough for anyone to do it.
Nibble is a multi-faceted experience that allows the user to put the material together. Welding, using simple tools to connect circuits, connecting a display, and attaching buttons are all made easy. In no time at all, the laptop will boot up and users will be able to enjoy the preinstalled simple games.
The third module of the CircuitMess Nibble the experience is the creation of games. This baby is open source and offers a variety of programming language options for newbie game developers to create their own game. Nibble; the specs are modest and the possible games are what you would expect from flip phones of the 2000s.
Release Date: March 20, 2021
Price: $ 94.99 USD
The contents of the CircuitMess Nibble kit are carefully organized. It has everything a child would need to start building – except for the assembly guide that can be found here. Why there was no printed guide included is confusing and impractical. The manufacturer considered including a catalog and a company mission statement, but no instructions.
After finding the guide online, assembly can finally begin. The tutorial is very easy to follow and is written in such a way that most children can read. Every aspect of the device is explained in easy to follow chunks; with pictures to help kids find their way around a soldering iron, and safety details.
The build quality of the parts seems sturdy and premium for being very low specification components. The clear acrylic case is a nice touch, so that the circuitry is always visible as a constant reminder of how the console works.
When the console is built, (provided the assembly guide has been followed) the Nibble has a sparse industrial aesthetic. It’s definitely not the most attractive handheld, and its hard, sharp edges can cause some people some discomfort.
The buttons have a nice and strong and satisfying click. These are feedback when playing the preinstalled games, which go a long way in adding some crunch to the gameplay. This is due to the Atari-like static sound effects which are known to be loud electronic bloops and beeps.
The main menu in the Nibble is also incredibly basic and won’t confuse anyone who can read. From there, four games are available: Bonk is a Pong derivative, Snake is the quintessential phone game of the 2000s, Space rocks is the poor Asteroids and Invader is a simplified Space invaders.
These built-in games are probably meant to show the potential of what is possible with the programming module of CircuitMess Nibble. These are hardly technological demonstrations of the full extent of what hardware can achieve; but digging deeper into the online community suggests that something interesting can be done with a little patience and elbow grease.
One of the most impressive feats with Nibble is that he can run a free title known as Anarch. Why is this awesome? It’s an overhaul first-person shooter; a Loss clone that runs around 30 frames per second. Completely free, and its engine can be easily reprogrammed into any type of first-person game.
It’s not perfect; Nibble’The ergonomics and the layout of the buttons are not very different from those of a Nintendo Entertainment System controller. Try to play Loss with a D-pad and only two buttons? This is not exactly the ideal and it is one of the limitations in game development that more advanced children may experience.
The screen is also very small and almost a perfect square, which also severely limits the design of the game. Still, these restrictions should encourage creativity. Art is created out of adversity, and the imagination trumps finite resources.
The Nibble is compatible with several entry-level coding languages. This is great for kids who are fascinated with the way games are made, and this is where CircuitMess is to be commended. Snacking on its own isn’t remarkable, but it does create a fascinating and informative experience.
This is not a game console for the enthusiast or die-hard gamer. Nibble is an edutainment product, which has more in common with simple to build robot kits. It is only slightly more advanced than a mounting set, and this is because the soldering iron is a potential health hazard to clumsy children who do not understand how to handle it with care.
Anyone who wants to play real games on a laptop will likely already own a Nintendo Switch or a number of legacy mobile game consoles. There are many counterfeit Chinese handheld consoles that will run emulators and ROMs. CircuitMess Nibble that’s not it, it’s a learning tool for children.
The mission statement included in the kit is respected. From building, to playing Invaderz, to messing around with Circuit Blocks and try to play Anarch with it; the experience was enlightening.
CircuitMess Nibble is very basic and limited. There isn’t much he can do, but it’s by design. The target age group will get a lot of Nibble, and potentially get kids to enjoy retro games a bit more. After all, they’ll end up programming a few if they sink deep into the Nibble rabbit hole.
CircuitMess Nibble was tested using a kit provided by CircuitMess. You can find additional information on Niche Gamer’s review / ethics policy. here.