10 things you didn’t know the Game Boy could do
The original Game Boy was fundamental and a pop culture phenomenon. It is widely regarded as the first wildly popular video game handheld, setting aside non-pixel-based devices like the Game & Watch and Tiger electronic games. Nintendo released a hardware revision of its hugely popular handheld several years after the original model. It had a bit more RAM and incremental hardware improvements. Of course, its main novelty allowed its own selection of hundreds of games that were not playable on the original model.
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We are of course talking about the Nintendo DSi. But also the Game Boy Color. The GBC is the same as the DSi in the sense that it wasn’t quite a generational leap like the GBA or 3DS, and can largely be lumped in with the original model. Despite the primacy of GB and GBC, they had games and accessories that enabled special features, many of which are usually only associated with later generations. Some of them might surprise you.
10/10 Support for digital cameras
Before carrying a camera in your pocket was a norm, the digital photography revolution had to happen. In the middle of it was the Game Boy Camera, a Game Boy cartridge with a camera on top. Although it only captures about 1% of a megapixel, the device offered a range of functions using the photos you captured, including arcade-style mini-games and point-and-shoot adventure game creation. to click. The device was the smallest digital camera at the time, a record recognized by Guinness.
9/10 Multiple Roms on the same cartridge
GB and GBC cartridges contain read-only memory (rom) files representing games, but some cartridges have more than one rom. Space Invaders, for example, contains the full SNES version of the game on the Game Boy cartridge, as it was made with the SNES Super Game Boy accessory in mind. Another thing that seems hard to believe is that a version of the first Grand Theft Auto was made just for OG Game Boys, meaning you can explore Liberty City, San Andreas, and Vice City on your 1980s Tetris machine. Although packaged as GBC releases, these games actually came on a “dual mode” cart, which featured black plastic and contained two roms, one for the GBC platform, the other for GB. Issue 31 of N64 Magazine states that these were not GBC games that the GB was compatible with, but two different versions on the same storage medium.
Sometimes the extra ROM on the cartridge would not be playable but used for extra data. Super Game Boy enhanced cartridges contained an SNES rom storing only audio or visuals, like a 16-bit background or a voice sample for Pauline in the GB remake Donkey Kong (yes, she was vocalizing decades before Super Mario Odyssey). Cartridges that were apparently GBC only (usually having clear plastic) sometimes contained a rom for the original Game Boy that simply displayed a warning telling the user that the game could only be played on the GBC. Today these screens are obscure curiosities.
8/10 Voice which were intelligible
The PS1 and N64 may have been what fully established voiceover in games outside of the PC, but in fact Nintendo’s handheld had over 20 games that featured digitized speech. Some of them include Krusty’s Fun House, Mortal Kombat 4, Oddworld Adventures, Perfect Dark, and Pokémon Yellow. Perfect Dark had speech samples of particularly high quality considering the need for compression, with long lines of dialogue included. Spoken dialogue wasn’t common on the Game Boy for this reason – space was precious – but that makes its inclusion in games that maintained gameplay quality all the more impressive.
7/10 Motion commands Before they were cool
You might think Nintendo’s first experiment with motion controls in video games was the Wii, but the Game Boy Color welcomed a predecessor. Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble was released in 2001 with a unique cartridge containing accelerometers like those in the Wii Remote. Moving your GBC in turn moved Kirby around the screen like a marble. The game was another example of an anachronistic borderline mechanic to appear on the Game Boy. It wasn’t revolutionary at the time, but it was prescient.
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6/10 Play unlimited music
Paid music streaming subscriptions? Please. Why throw away your cash when you can fit a radio to the side of your Game Boy as a useful superfluous ear? The Boom Box Boy is a strange concept. It does not use the GB screen, but you can play a game at the same time. It provides access to the radio, but uses no speakers, requiring headphones. It is powered by the link port, but still needs its own battery. At least Game Gear’s TV tuner lets you make more use of your gaming system’s existing features. Boom Box Boy adds a surprising feature, but that feature is limited.
5/10 Go fishing. For real.
Back in the late ’90s, Bandai obviously took a look at the market and decided that the lack of synergy between pool-related echolocation and Nintendo handhelds and said, “That. This is what we do. The first sonar-powered gaming accessory, the Game Boy Pocket Sonar turned your handheld into a real speed camera. Anyone, of course, should feel free to combine games and water features if they wish, but if that goes too far, just accept it. Your Game Boy is gone. It’s at the bottom of the ocean.
4/10 Rumble: Find out what it’s like to feel what you see
While the vibration feedback offered by what Nintendo calls To scold has been a given in console controllers since the late 90s, no major handheld offered this out of the box. Despite the fact that the GB and GBC lacked a built-in vibration motor, 16 games used a Rumble Pak built into the cartridge itself and required a single AAA battery. Perfect Dark, Pokémon Pinball (GB compatible), and Star Wars Episode 1: Racer were among the titles that incorporated the feature. Just another example of the Game Boy not caring that it’s an 80s toy.
3/10 Screenshot sharing, sort of
In 1998, before consoles had sophisticated sharing features, the gameboy printer provided a fun way to preserve moments from compatible games. Examples include Link’s Awakening DX, whose in-game camera could be used to capture images for printing, and Pokémon Trading Card Game, which supported printing Pokémon cards. Released alongside the Game Boy Camera, the accessory also served as an accessible alternative to polaroid cameras and analog photo processing. Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, and (you guessed it) Perfect Dark also used the printer.
2/10 3D graphics. In 1992.
X, a 1992 GB sci-fi title from Argonaut Games, pushed the hardware to its limits to create rudimentary polygonal action from a first-person perspective. A black and white 3D game. How steampunk. The developer would later achieve the equally impressive feat of the graphically similar Star Fox SNES games. X later received a sequel with similar gameplay for DSiWare, X-Scape.
The year before X, Xanth Software released Faceball 2000, a cartoonish hallway shooter played from a first-person perspective. Although it’s not fully 3D, it created that illusion. It’s also worth noting that Faceball 2000 would have supported 16 concurrent players if Nintendo had allowed Xanth to carry out its plan to bundle a proprietary multiplayer accessory with the game.
1/10 Online game, the last place you expect
All modern gaming features revolve around the internet in one way or another. In contrast, online features are rarely associated with handheld consoles released in the 90s. Go mobile adapter, released only in Japan in January 2001, turned the tables by providing online connectivity for GBC via select Japanese cell phones. Once you’ve mailed a paper entry form contained in the package, you’d be all set. Features included online multiplayer in Pokémon Crystal and additional maps and resources in Game Boy Wars 3 from the Nintendo Wars series.
A number of factors such as excessive charges prevented the adapter and associated service from starting, but the fact that it’s available for the Game Boy is something entirely new. The GB Mobile Adapter didn’t quite have the reach of Captain Marvel’s Game Boy interstellar mod, but it was an innovation nonetheless.
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