I grew up mainly in the early 2000s. My first Game Boy was the Game Boy Advance, followed by the Game Boy Advance SP. I was too young for the original Game Boy and GB Color but just old enough to remember sitting under the lamp trying to see the screen and begging my mom to buy me a third light for the top of the Game Boy because I lost the first and broke the second.
That light is what this article is about. Well, in a sense. It’s mainly about its predecessors. Growing up, I had the light, the magnifying glass for the SP (which I never used), an aluminum carrying case, a car charger, and who knows what else. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to GB accessories.
Recently, I was doing some research on old Game Boy accessories for my senior thesis project, and came across the craziest list of items I’d ever seen. Well, there were the official Nintendo items, like the Game Boy Camera and Printer, which allowed you to take selfies and print them out on tiny receipt paper in 1992, as well as the Gamecube add-on that allowed you to play GBA games on your tv. But it was the unofficial accessories that blew me away. From solar powered battery packs to fishing sonars to sewing machines to glucose monitors, it seemed as though everything that could possibly made for the Game Boy was made. There was even a machine patented that assisted in putting people to sleep before surgery for GB.
This world seemed like a free for all, where anyone with access to plastic was making accessories for whatever they could think of. It’s not too dissimilar to the barrage of iPhone accessories we have today, except that it seems like Nintendo would allow anyone to make an accessory for whatever they felt like. Some of the technology was so advanced for the time. The Solar Boy came out in 1992!! We can’t figure out solar power for mobile devices today. Now, granted, the Solar Boy required you to leave it out in the sun for 8 hours. But still very impressive for tech that’s almost 30 years old.
I’m not exactly sure where this article is going. But the pure quantity and range of add-ons for a single suite of products is kind of inspiring. Taking an object, made for one pretty specific thing (playing games) and using its technical capabilities to create entirely new products off of it is something we should think about moving forward with product design. It’s essentially the iPhone, except all of the apps are physical additions.
Last thing, here’s a very funny video that goes into detail about even more Game Boy accessories, as well as the ones I’ve mentioned here.