The Game Boy was launched in 1989 in Japan and is considered by many to be the beginning of the modern series of handheld Nintendo consoles. With an expansive roster of games, better graphics than the Game and Watch, and more mainstream appeal, the Game Boy had a loyal fanbase as it underwent several upgrades, evolving to the Gameboy Color and eventually the Gameboy Advance SP before being retired for the Nintendo DS.
The original Game Boy is still receiving games and new titles for it even today, thanks to a community of loyal developers working to build content for the console they love so much, and it’s worth looking at properly.
The Rise of Homebrew Game Boy Games
When the GB was first released, the technology was considered advanced - there were barely any portable consoles on the market and none that could compete with the Game Boy. Titles were released by Nintendo, but nowadays, the internal circuitry and graphics of the GB library are considered outdated and simple. It’s this modern technology that enables the homebrew Game Boy games to take centre stage.
Software like GB Studio has allowed anyone to make a Game Boy title. In a system designed with no coding knowledge necessary, users can drag and drop elements and sprites into their games to create unique titles. These games can then be uploaded to an emulator or put onto a flashcard.
Other tools to make indie Game Boy Games include The Game Boy Developer's Kit (GBDK) which is a development suite that allows you to make Game Boy games in either C, ASM language or a mixture of both.
Why are These Homebrew Titles Popular?
Why are these old games - which are incredibly simple compared to modern titles - continuing to flourish and inspire new titles? The answer is simple - the enduring fanbase.
Before Nintendo was called into question by the fans for the sub-par Switch releases and seemingly tunnel-vision focus on profit, the games they made and consoles they produced were pioneering. The Game Boy was a beloved console that dominated the stage for a decade without any competition or real change - even the Game Boy Color was a slightly updated take on the original.
A lot of people who played these games are now adults and designing games to inspire a new generation. They’re carrying on the legacy of the Game Boy because they love the era, the graphics and the charming nostalgia behind the retro titles.
Homebrew Game Boy games are still enjoying popularity across the internet, and some are even sold as original titles on eBay or other sites. Their loyal fan base continues to make games and play titles from that era. It was a stunning period for video games - from Tetris to the original Pokémon Red and Blue, many gamers started their journey on this console, and for some, returning to it and building new games is a labour of love.