What’s old is new again. Many companies are bringing retro video games back in style with all sorts of throwback products. One of these peculiar devices is the SmartBoy, an accessory for Android phones that basically turns your phone into an old school Game Boy that even works with old Game Boy cartridges.
From Hyperkin, maker of many modern, unofficial versions of retro game products, the SmartBoy was originally unveiled as an April Fool’s joke in 2015. The joke was a test to see whether such a device would be popular. Following the immensely positive reception, Hyperkin turned it into a real product.
The device looks very similar to an original “brick” style Game Boy. The off-white plastic and the dark pastel pink buttons really sell the “retro technology” vibe. Thankfully those buttons are 100 percent functional, so you won’t need to use any awkward on-screen virtual controls to play games.
There’s an opening in the device for you to slide your phone into, connecting with the device via USB-C, so it only works on supported Android devices (you can check the product page on Hyperkin’s website for compatible Android phones). The body of the SmartBoy covers the majority of the phone’s screen, leaving the top visible to mimic the square Game Boy screen. Though, unlike the original pea-green screen, the SmartBoy utilizes your phone’s high-resolution backlit screen to display a pretty gorgeous pixelated image. It can even display games in color if the original game supported it through Super Game Boy or Game Boy Color.
To get games running on the SmartBoy, you have to actually use original Game Boy cartridges. There’s a receptacle for cartridges on the device itself. Once you connect a cartridge, you can launch the SmartBoy serial app to temporarily download the game to your phone, then launch the MyOldBoy Gameboy emulator to start playing. Removing the cartridge stops the gameplay to discourage piracy.
The Hyperkin SmartBoy is a fun way to mix retro gaming with modern technology. The product will be released on August 21 at the price of $49.99. You can pre-order the device from Hyperkin’s website.