The runaway success of the NES and SNES Classic consoles led many to believe that a Game Boy Classic was inevitable. A recent patent published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office has revealed some details on what Nintendo has in mind for the Game Boy.
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The patent describes a phone case that envelopes a smartphone with the Game Boy’s iconic button layout, complete with a d-pad and A and B buttons. Assumedly, users would press buttons on the case, which would press down and make contact with the touchscreen, simulating a button press. This would allow Nintendo to port its Game Boy games to mobile without dampening the experience with slippery, inaccurate touchscreen controls. It’s also odd to consider that Nintendo doesn’t include the words “Game Boy” or “game” in the patent.
There have been similar phone cases released in the past that resemble a Game Boy, such as the Smart Boy. The Smart Boy, however, uses real Game Boy cartridges, and assumedly the Nintendo Game Boy phone case would use officially distributed ROMs instead. The success of these third-party Game Boy cases has shown that a market for this product exists.
Nintendo has not currently announced any plans for a Game Boy Classic, or any kind of Game Boy phone case. It would be extremely surprising if Nintendo actually released Game Boy games on mobile devices. While Nintendo has successfully dabbled in mobile gaming with titles like Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, none of these games have been full-fledged entries in their respective series. Instead, they offer smaller or alternative experiences that are intended to encourage fans to buy the full games on Nintendo consoles. Nintendo does not want to cannibalize the sales of its own games by releasing the full experience on mobile devices. Why would anyone buy a Switch if they could play full-fledged Mario or Zelda games on their phones?
It should also be noted that Nintendo made headlines in recent months by going after ROM and emulation sites that hosted their games. Could this be because they are intending to release these classic Game Boy games on mobile? Stay tuned…