With Nintendo having released their mini-versions of the NES and SNES, there has been some discussion as to the value of releasing an original Gameboy shell with popular games pre-loaded. Most of those rumours have been dismissed because it would involve Nintendo having to, not only come up with an even more miniture chipset, but also a display pushing it out of that "impulse buy" pricepoint.
I was thus interested to see Hyperkin's angle, with their Smartboy.
At first appearance the Smartboy looks like an amazing merger of the classic original Gameboy casing and a sleek modern touch device. And that's because it is, unfortunately. The Smartboy requires an Android phone with a USB-C port (for best results they recommend using a Samsung Galaxy S8). The device works by sliding in a phone, and inserting an original game cart, which when combined with the installed application, downloads a dump of the ROM, enabling you to legally play Gameboy and Gameboy Color games through an emulator.
Essentially, this is a $49 USD emulator for Android with a plastic accessory - albeit it a very nice one.
The data is deleted once you remove the cartridge, thus skirting piracy and infringement laws.
Even with the rather significant handicap of having to use a specific phone, and having that phone connected to the internet, it is a noble effort and appears to be well designed. The device obviously also provides for a much larger and clearer display than the original Gameboy.
- Phil Fogg