The original Game Boy may be iconic, but it’s also a huge, housebrick-sized monstrosity. Thanks to one intrepid industrial designer, it’s been given a new lease of life as the Nintendo Flex.
Now, if you’re a gamer of a certain age, you’ll probably have fond memories of the Game Boy. Releasing in Japan and North America way back in 1989 (hitting Europe the following year), this was the system that kicked off Nintendo’s reputation as masters of handheld gaming.
The great grandpappy of such popular systems as the Game Boy Advance, DS and 3DS, this was the monochrome sensation that started it all. These days, there’s more tech in the average sandwich than there is in the primitive Game Boy, but heck. Today’s electronics aren’t going to hold up in a few decades, are they? It had Tetris. That was all it needed for world domination.
That’s right. As the math whizzes among you will have realised, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Game Boy’s release (April 21 in Japan, July 31 in the U.S.). How are Nintendo going to mark the occasion? Maybe with another addition to their NES Classic and SNES Classic line (we can hope).
In the meantime, an industrial designer by the name of YJ Yoon has been working on his own unofficial ode to the ancient handheld. The Nintendo Flex, as he’s called it, is a smaller, sleeker take on the chunky Game Boy, being much slimmer and boasting a much larger screen than the original system.
It’s got an Apple-ish feel to it, with its functional and unadorned silver body. All very smartphone-esque. Yoon explains that he was inspired to create the system by that friend of retro gamers everywhere: nostalgia. The Game Boy was the first console he ever owned, he writes, a birthday gift from his father. Many of you reading this now probably have a similar story from your own childhoods and would love to get your hands on one of these.
Yoon’s done a fantastic job of taking the old tech and housing it in an almost painfully contemporary body. He’s made some neat little quality of life changes too, such as moving the speaker so the player’s hand doesn’t cover it this time around. That d-pad's probably a crime in several countries around the world, but we won't hold that against Yoon.
We’ve seen some excellent custom Game Boys before (and some questionable ones), but the Flex is a product that many of us would happily pay good money for, if they were to become commercially available.