Nintendo Game Boy: A Smart Device Before Smart Devices

Despite being dethroned from its former glory by Sony, Nintendo has retained its image as an innovator of sorts when it comes to video game consoles and peripherals. Although video games initially emerged as simple means to keep yourself digitally entertained, they have actually become somewhat indispensable to our society. But one company that managed to withstand the highly volatile video game industry, is none other than Nintendo. And a true example of their top-notch innovation is certainly the Game Boy series of handheld devices. Although, its list of games or their graphical quality might seem dated, we certainly cannot deny the iconicism associated with the Game Boy.

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But what makes this humble piece of tech highly valued, are its versatile applications. It might not impress smartphone users today, but back in the days, Game Boy was nothing less than a smart device capable of a lot more than simply playing Tetris or Zelda. Find it hard to believe? Check out this list and be the judge!

1. Bomb Proof

Bomb Proof Gameboy

Are you tired of getting a heart attack every time you drop your smartphone? Well all we can say is, smartphone manufacturers could certainly learn a thing or two from Nintendo. Sure it didn’t have a backlit screen, but if it can withstand a bomb, it is a definitive winner in our books. Believe it or not, there was a Game Boy console recovered from a destroyed barracks at a Gulf War site. It continued to work normally even after its outer shell was deformed by the heat from the bombing. Take notes Samsung and Apple… or maybe let’s just leave Samsung outa this!

2. Selfies Before They Became Cool

Gameboy Camera

Game Boy users were rocking selfies even before it was a thing. Released as an  official accessory by Nintendo, Game Boy Camera (GBC) could be used to click 128×128 pixel photos and print them using the Game Boy Printer (check next point for more). Sure it could only use 1 of the 4 provided color palettes and your photos looked like they were printed by an ATM. However, it was still the only handheld device that could do this in 1998.

3. Thermal Printer Support

Gameboy Printer

Okay, a humble looking thermal printer that you usually see on POS terminals might not be the best example of smart tech. But what if it worked with the Game Boy Camera? And a library list of other titles on the Game Boy? The Game Boy Printer was released by Nintendo in 1998 that allowed users to print images of in-game stills or pictures taken via Game Boy Camera. Although this was discontinued in 2003, it is still regarded as a revolutionary peripheral for such a ‘retro’ handheld gaming console.

4. Pocket Sonar

Gameboy Sonar

Now this is where things start to get serious with Game Boy. While you might not think much of a peripheral for a gaming console, Game Boy Pocket Sonar really did what it claimed. It came with a couple of accessories that would fit on almost all versions of the Game Boy and could accurately detect fishes upto 20 meters underwater. While several rival handheld consoles had decent fishing games, none of them provided a real life solution as Nintendo. Unfortunately, it was manufactured by Bandai Co. and was only sold in Japan. Nevertheless, it holds the title for being the first Sonar-enabled gaming accessory for a gaming console.

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5. Smartphone Like Capabilities

Gameboy Workboy

While a lot of people credit Apple for popularizing smart devices, Nintendo was doing it when no one understood the very concept of smart devices. Manufactured by Fabtek, Workboy could turn your Game Boy into a Smartphone back in 1992. It added a ton of extremely practical functionalities to the Game Boy such as weather, room thermometer, calendar, local clock, Forex conversion rates, calculator, appointments, unit convertor, maps and a phone with an inbuilt directory. And the best part, it also came with a small qwerty-keyboard attachment that wasn’t seen in cell phones till early 2000s.

6. Sedation Device

Gamboy Pedisedate

While researchers are now discovering the calming effects of video game on the human brain, Nintendo was already rocking this with Game Boy Pedi-Sedate. Although this was released much later in the console’s lifespan, Pedi-Sedate ensured that kids don’t feel the pressure when going under the knife or when visiting a dentist. It was a medical utility that would fit on the head and slowly deliver nitrous oxide in controlled doses while you played Zelda or Tetris. Just like Angry Video Game Nerd, we too want to be sedated with a Game Boy.

7. Smart-Sewing Machine

Gameboy Sewing Machine

While Video Games and Sewing rarely come across each other, they surely did with the release of Singer Izek Computerized Sewing Machine. It used a unique computerized guiding mechanism that employed a Game Boy Color handheld console to sew patterns on fabric. They also supplied the machine with a special Game Boy Color cartridge that included various patterns and designs. Although it wasn’t really clear whom was this product targeted at, both Nintendo and Singer deserve some praise for bringing this innovative idea to fruition.

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Nintendo and Sega, followed by Sony alongside Microsoft have shown that regardless of video games being traditionally frowned upon by parents, are truly indispensable to us. The above mentioned list might sound short, but even iPhones cannot compare with the level of innovation and quality displayed by the humble looking Game Boy. We hope you like this article. If yes, please subscribe to our posts and share your feedback in comments.

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