Dot matrix with stereo sound


Kalle Evjen '23

A clear Gameboy DMG, released 1995.

Clark Chamberlin, Opinions Editor

Four AA batteries, small enough to fit in a pocket, housing a Sharp LR35902 8-bit processor, a plastic brick able to withstand a trip to space, can remain functional after a Gulf War bombing, and plays Tetris. The Gameboy: this lump of plastics, rubber, and metal older than every student at De Smet and several members of its staff is still one of the best purchases one can make over three decades later.

The Gameboy had a very long life, only being challenged by the Gameboy Color nine years later and the Gameboy Advance 12 years after it hit store shelves, and finally ending production all the way in 2003, 14 years after the original console’s release. In that time, it has amassed a massive reputation after over 100 million sales as one of the greatest video game consoles ever produced. It lives up to it. During its lifespan it saw over 500 games. Even now, 33 years after its release, it still receives new homebrew games regularly.

But what makes the Gameboy better than your current portable console? I ask you, why do people like vintage and retro things? Sure, you can find other handheld devices that fill the role of a Gameboy, and sometimes do it better, but you simply cannot beat the magic of using an original, vintage console. Plus, for a handheld that fits in a pocket, the Gameboy is absolutely massive, which is a great benefit to those with larger and/or cramp-prone hands. If you’re worried about your pockets being too full, you can get any of the other Gameboys, each one smaller than the original, such as the Gameboy Pocket or Color.

By using a flashcart, One doesn’t have to worry about carrying around a ton of cartridges everywhere just to have multiple games available to play at any given time. A flashcart is a cartridge that can be loaded up with other games. One can just load up all their Gameboy games onto an SD card and slide it into the flashcart, then with the flashcart in the console one can access any game ever released for the console by just lifting a finger.

the EZ Flash Junior flashcart allows for many games to be accessed from one cartridge by a Micro SD card slot in its side. (Kalle Evjen ’23)

These days, everyone has a phone in their pocket. Though we like to pretend they’re for communication, we all know that their primary purpose is to burn dopamine receptors with social media. Maybe you should carry a different portable electronic device to fill the role of entertainment. Yes, playing video games instead of scrolling down Twitter isn’t exactly an improvement to productivity, but it sure doesn’t ruin your day, mood, and mental health nearly as much. And yes, a phone can play games instead of displaying social media, and yes, it can play games for the Gameboy, but gaming on an actual console is leagues better than a phone could ever be.

By playing a console game on your phone, you need to use an emulator. An emulator is a program that simulates any computer, including game consoles. This lets programs written for one computer, like a Gameboy, work on a radically different computer, like a phone or PC. Emulators are used everywhere, but they are most well known for playing video games on platforms they weren’t released on (like playing Mario Kart on a laptop). Gameboy emulators for phones have to use one of two imperfect solutions for input: first, you can use the on-screen controls: This is a controller drawn on the touchscreen, the most convenient method, but since there’s no tactile feedback and the only thing needed to press a button is the presence of a finger rather than the pressure of one, the experience of playing games using this method is usually worse than if you weren’t playing at all. Imagine playing Mario on a highly sensitive microwave panel. Otherwise, you can carry around a bluetooth controller, which will let you actually enjoy your game, but they require both hands forcing you to set down your phone or uncomfortably mount it to the controller, they’re easily breakable in a pocket, using one means you need to keep track of two things to play a game, and it’s yet another thing that you need to keep charged before leaving the house.

By carrying around a Gameboy, you can bypass this. It’s has the benefits of both with none of the detriments: You get the tactile feedback and the ability to actually press buttons as seen on the bluetooth controller, you don’t have to worry holding your phone while both of your hands are occupied, it can live of a couple AAs for months at a time (if you use it eight rechargables you have enough for the system and a spare set to leave on a charger and replace any time), the device’s infrequent “recharging” takes but a few seconds, and if the thing can survive a bomb, it can certainly survive a pocket.

Gameboys today only cost about $60 and all variants and colors can be commonly found in second hand game stores (Trade N Games in Fenton and Bodach’s Games on South Broadway specialize in trading and selling vintage games) and on ebay. A decent flashcart like the EZ Flash Junior will only cost about $40, and with these two parts, my right pocket now contains Mario, Pokemon, Tetris, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Castlevania, Contra, various sports games, and more.

Delete your social media apps and get a Gameboy. You will not regret it.