Hyperkin Smartboy

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.

 This photo is from Hyperkin's site.

This photo is from Hyperkin's site.

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.

 Phone slots in the front, cart slots inthe back.

Phone slots in the front, cart slots inthe back.

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