For many of us, even hardcore gamers, the original Game Boy is a big hunk of gray plastic that we find in our attics or basements from time to time. Occasionally we'll take the initiative to run to our nearest junk drawer, grab some AA batteries, and see if we can't fire it back up. For some of us, the relic fires back to life and we enjoy a few rounds of Tetris or a couple hours of Super Mario Land. While these games are great, they're better played on the Game Boy Pocket or the Advanced as they had the advantage of a back-lit screen and could add some shades besides pea-green and black. That's what phased the original Game Boy and the Game Boy Color out - all of the games played better somewhere else. You didn't need them to play their own software. For the original and its color counterpart, a special peripheral was needed to play them on a late night car ride or when you were supposed to be in bed.
Don't let the downfall of the original Game Boy and its color counterpart make you think that these little machines are entirely useless. They're actually very versatile handheld consoles that are capable of a whole lot more than just running their own games. Not only were they capable of a lot in their own era, they're even still used for incredible electronics projects today.
15 It Can Be Converted Into A Mobile Phone Gamepad
One of the biggest problems with mobile gaming, at least when it comes to emulating classic consoles like the original Game Boy, Nintendo, or the Super Nintendo, is the fact that it never feels familiar or even close to the real thing. Many emulators will put a D-Pad and a few buttons right on the screen, but this dwarfs the game area. It's only sufficient when played on a larger phone.
Fortunately, YouTuber Chad Boughton took it upon himself to turn the classic Game Boy into a Game-pad that an android phone can be mounted into and controlled with. His method also requires a Wii-mote, but who wouldn't purchase any part necessary to play all those games and still have a fulfilling and nostalgic feel?
14 It Could Be Programmed As A TV Remote
When the Game Boy got a slight upgrade to start showing games in full-color, it also gained an infrared sensor. A lot of folks might tell you that the sensor was never used, but this actually isn't true at all. While it wasn't used to its full potential, the video game version of Pokemon Trading Card Game used the feature to unlock special cards when paired with a friend's infrared sensor.
While there are files that can be dumped into "Flash Carts" to turn your old Game Boy into a remote, the game Mission Impossible allowed you to actually program your handheld as a remote that could be used to operate your television, VCR, and more.
13 It Can Be Turned Into A Camera Gun
The original Game Boy had a lot of cool peripherals (outside of the Light Boy or a screen magnifier) that the typical player never bothered to purchase. A couple of these add-ons were things like the Game Boy Camera and the Game Boy Printer.
Artist Dmitri Morozov took the guts of a Game Boy, the Game Boy Camera and a Game Boy printer, and mounted them all into a gun that can take pictures at the pull of a trigger. Thanks to the addition of the Game Boy Printer, not only do you save your grainy black and white photographs, but you can print them out instantly as if you were using a Polaroid camera.
The contraption doesn't look very nice, but we can imagine it's rather fun to carry around for candid shots.
12 It Could Link To The Super Nintendo
When the Super Game Boy came out, many players rejoiced in unison. You could almost hear the screams of joy across the globe. While handheld gaming is fun, sitting on the couch with a larger screen and a controller will probably always be the most popular way to play - even with the growing popularity of PC gaming and VR peripherals. The Super Game Boy gave us the ability to play on the big screen with a "real" controller. It even allowed us to add a bit of color to those early games. The only problem was, the head-to-head two-player feature the Game Boy offered was impossible to use in this fashion.
Enter the Super Game Boy 2. It probably flew under your radar as it was only available in Japan. The Super Game Boy 2 had a port for the Game Boy link cable that allowed a friend to play against you on their Game Boy while you partied hard on the SNES.
11 Four Player Action
Most of us knew that two Game Boys could be linked for head-to-head two-player throw downs. In those days, the Game Boys came with the cable that made this possible. Let's face it, in these modern times that cable would be a peripheral to be purchased separately. What you probably didn't know is that you could hook up to four Game Boys together.
With the Game Boy Four Player adapter, four-way play was made possible. The popularity never quite caught on as there weren't a whole lot of games that utilized two-player features, let alone four-player features.
The Game Boy Four Player Adapter came packaged with F-1 Race (one of the few games that utilized the adapter) or it could be purchased separately.
10 They Could Break Into Cars (Maybe?)
Many years ago, before flash carts (think of a flash drive combined with an old Game Boy cartridge) were a popular item for Game Boy hacks, it was possible to buy a peripheral for your PC that would allow you to put programs or ROMS on to empty Game Boy carts. These carts could be inserted into the Game Boy like a game to play pirated ROMS or achieve different effects. We won't link to these sites as the practice is entirely illegal.
Earlier we mentioned you could use a flash cart to program a Game Boy Color to be used as a television remote control without purchasing the Mission: Impossible game. Rumor has it, you could use blank carts to do the same thing with infrared sensors on remote car door locks.
While a major string of robberies using this method didn't seem to hit the news, there are whisperings of people accomplishing the feat on various tech and retro gaming forums.
9 You Could Use Your Game Boy Characters In Nintendo 64 Games
Just like today, many Nintendo titles come out for both the handheld consoles and the beefier home consoles. The idea of cross compatibility between the two different copies seems modern, but it's actually been around since the days even before the Game Boy Advanced.
With a handy little peripheral called The Transfer Pak, a player could connect their Game Boy games to their Nintendo 64, and transfer data to the corresponding N64 version of the same game. The peripheral came with Pokémon Stadium to interact with the early Pokémon carts or it could be purchased on its own. You could use it to take your 2-D characters in games like Mario Tennis and play them in 3-D polygonal glory on your Nintendo 64.
8 You Could Play The Orginal Gameboy Games On The Sony PlayStation
Every Game Boy fan worth their weight in game carts knows about the Super Game Boy and the ability to play games through your Super Nintendo on the TV screen. Most players are probably aware of this because both the Game Boy and the Super Nintendo were still in heavy use at the same time. By the time the original PlayStation came around, Nintendo had moved on to things like Game Boy Advanced.
A little device called the Gold Finger could plug into the back of your PlayStation and allow you to play your Game Boy games through it in the same way the Super Game Boy allowed you to play through your SNES. It's a weird thing to think about since the Nintendo PlayStation prototype has come to light.
The Gold Finger also served as both a Game Shark and Pro Action Replay. It would also allow you to see the files in your PlayStation games so you could just kick back and watch all those amazing cinema scenes from Final Fantasy VII. If used in a certain way, you could also play burned games on your PS1 without the need for a mod chip. It was quite the powerful little game hacking tool in its day.
7 It Could Connect To Your Mobile Phone
Until recently, Nintendo didn't seem to have any desire to get into mobile phone gaming. Recently we've received Super Mario Run for mobile devices. A little before that we were given Miitomo.
The adapter allowed a user with a Game Boy Color to take advantage of mobile devices for wireless play. Unfortunately, not many games utilized the ability.
The device didn't make it out of the overseas market and production only lasted a bit over a year. The only game that really caught on with using the adapter Pokémon Crystal. Since the Pokémon games were largely popular with adolescent gamers, the device never really took off. While it's rather common now, it was extremely unusual for a child to have their own mobile device or smart phone in those days.
6 It Could Conceivably Be Turned Into A Mini PC
Though the the necessary cartridge and peripheral device was never officially released, the idea behind it had some incredible possibilities. Prototypes did exist and the product had even been advertised in Nintendo Power.
The Work Boy was conceived as a keyboard and cartridge combo that would turn your Game Boy into a mini personal organizer/home office. It would allow you to calculate currency exchange rates, temperature conversion, keep a calendar, see the time, and make a day planner. It would also come with a small keyboard that would plug into the link port.
Imagine what could have been if you used the Four Player Adapter to combine the Work Boy, the Game Boy Camera, and the Game Boy Printer into one unit! That would have been a rather versatile and affordable portable PC for those days.
5 It Can Power A Drone
Believe it or not, there are actually quite a few tutorials out there that will show you how to power a drone through an old Game Boy. What a perfect blend of old-tech and modern tech. The first known or at least first documented successful attempt was done by Gautier Hattenberger and posted on the Paparazzi UAV Blog.
While the process is nowhere near as simple as just using the remote or software that comes with the drone at the time of purchase, it's still a fun project for an electronics or retro video game enthusiast. Controlling the drone with a Game Boy might even come more naturally to an OG gamer than the stock controller.
4 It Can Help Sedate Children
This is one of the darker uses we've seen for the classic Game Boy. The idea behind the PediSedate was to distract children while they were being sedated for medical procedures. If doctors or dentists weren't wielding needles or terrible tasting medicine, children might be more easily sedated without much fuss. It was assumed that they might not mind the strange head piece so much if they were distracted. This is where the Game Boy or a music player comes into the picture. Regardless, the device looks frightening and it never went into real use.
Another interesting piece of information regarding the PediSedate: it was developed long after even the Game Boy Color was discontinued. What were they thinking? Did the music player versions of PediSedate use a Walkman with a Psychedelic Furs cassette?
3 It Can Sew
There were a lot of big ideas for the Game Boy in its day. When you think about it, it really did have a lot of potential to be so much more than a gaming device. If you had a cart to tell it what to do, and as long as those actions could be performed with a D-Pad and four buttons, you were golden. There were even small radios released in China that utilized the Game Boy as nothing more than a power supply with its four AA batteries. It was a versatile little computer - a "prehistoric" predecessor to the Raspberry Pi in a way. It only makes sense that someone would use it to control a...
Yep. It happened. The Singer Izek sewing machine was compatible with your Game Boy. Using the Game Boy and a special cartridge with a number of pre-loaded patterns, one could, well, use a sewing machine.
We can only imagine this compatibility was used to generate interest in sewing as video games were taking over the minds of the world's youth. Hop on eBay and try one out for yourself.
2 You Can Start A Band With It
Chiptune bands are actually a thing and have been around for quite a some time. Original music that sounds like it would have fit right at home in a Mega Man game actually has quite the following. If you have a bit of musical know how, you can easily start a Game Boy chiptune project yourself using LSDJ.
LSDJ is a program that can be used as a ROM in conjunction with a Game Boy emulator to create chiptunes that sound like they belong in a Game Boy game. If you have the know how you can skip emulation. You can put the ROM on a blank cartridge and insert into the original Game Boy, a Game Boy Color, or Game Boy Advance. It will probably be more fun coming from that big, gray, hunk of plastic.
1 It Can Catch Fish
Whoever came up with the Game Boy Pocket Sonar is a genius. It seems like it would be almost useless but this could come in handy on a camping trip and those that used it claim it totally worked. Think of it this way:
If your kid had a Game Boy, they were taking it everywhere - especially a long trip. If you go on a fishing trip or a camping trip where fishing will be done, what a great way to engage a child in the outdoors and teach them about sonar. Just let them plug their sonar gun into the Game Boy, get in the boat, and start finding fish. If a large number of fish are detected, it shows up on the Game Boy's screen. The Game Boy Pocket Sonar could even be used if something were to happen to a more legitimate sonar device on the family fishing boat.
If going fishing ends up being too much fun thanks to the GB Sonar, you could promise your kid they can play the fishing video game that came with it when you get back to land.