BBG co-editor John Brownlee wants someone to make a simple, cheap handheld roguelike in a similar vein to the dedicated Tiger portable games of yore…
Some sort of UMPC or handheld console solution dedicated to one single purpose: Playing ASCII rogue-likes on the go. Everything has to be designed so you can play Dwarf Fortress or Nethack with the minimum amount of bullshit.
The thought experiment it implies is “what might a portable, text-only game console be like?”
At the low end, the cheap hardware used for $30 translators and dictionaries could handle such staples as interactive fiction and basic roguelikes: CalcRogue, by Jim Babcock, looks ready made for action in something one might impulse-buy at Target.
At the high end, a more capable machine might meet the likes of Dwarf Fortress’ stiff system requirements, and open up the possibilities to the world’s vast back catalog of ASCII-style titles.
Our mockups here are, respectively, an iRiver Discple (above), a $200 monster-translator that could be fitted out with an x86 CPU, a stripped-down linux and bucketloads of text-only games on tap; and an ultra-cheap Franklin Spanish dictionary (below), depicted as running only a baked-in CalcRogue.
The closest Tiger itself got to a Roguelike is, presumably, its version of Gauntlet. It’s Wheel of Fortune has a QWERTY keyboard. Of course, the LCD displays in these are far too primitive for a proper implementation; they merely show that the foothills of this mountain have been danced upon.