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So whatever happened to the next Game Boy?

Ben Striegel

Game Boy EvolutionI've been looking through Joystiq's archives quite thoroughly lately, and no matter how many articles I see speculating on future hardware—including ones not even remotely announced—I can't seem to find anything relating to the next iteration of the Game Boy, aside from one tiny piece from July '04 confirming that, yes, Nintendo is working on it, maybe possibly perhaps. This got me to thinking: how will Nintendo market a traditional handheld after the undeniable success of their nonconformist third pillar? Obviously differentiation is key, as high hardware sales translate into higher software sales, which are the crux of a publishing giant such as Nintendo. How will the Game Boy Evolution differentiate itself from the DS and all of its subsequent progeny? Nintendo isn't talking—yet—so we'll opt for the next best thing: rampant speculation!

  • The GBE will be released six months to a year after the launch of the Revolution. Considering a best-case scenario, Japanese gamers could be playing the Evolution as early as next December. Why, you ask? For much the same reason as the near-coinciding launch of the GBA and GCN…

  • The Revolution will connect with the Game Boy Evolution, but not with the Nintendo DS. Aside from the usual benefits of a controller with a built-in screen, classic Nintendo titles can be downloaded onto the GBE's internal memory for nostalgia on the go. And speaking of nostalgia…

  • Unlike the DS and the GBM, which are only equipped to play Game Boy Advance cartridges, the GBE will allow you to play your entire back catalog of Game Boy titles, thus preserving the longevity of the Game Boy brand. Obviously it won't accept DS cartridges, despite the fact that…

  • The GBE will store game data on DS-esque flash memory cards, rather than an optical storage medium such as the PSP's UMDs, thus eliminating the need for separate memory cards and battery-intensive lasers. And while we're talking comparisons to the PSP…

  • The Game Boy Evolution will feature full 3D capabilities, though the hardware will only exhibit a marginal increase over the PSP's graphics. Nintendo's never felt the need to sell their consoles as the most graphically superior (see Game Boy vs. Game Gear), relying instead on the overall experience as the system's unique selling point. But before we get away from the graphical aspects there's one last thing worth mentioning…

  • The GBE's screen resolution will be drastically increased over the GBA's, though all the while retaining a similar aspect ratio. Despite consumer demand, the screen will not be backlit.

  • ...until the GBE SP.

  • Not only will the GBE allow you to play all of your classic Game Boy games, it will allow you to play all of your multiplayer Game Boy games wirelessly, including games not built especially with the GBA wireless adaptor in mind. By the way, how?s this for a seamless segue into the next bullet point?

  • The Game Boy Evolution will be the hottest gift of 1991 with the addition of X and Y face buttons, as well as a quasi-analog d-pad which will register variable pressure in up to eight directions. Oh, but that?s not all?

  • The GBE will include gyroscopic technology which will allow games such as Wario Ware: Twisted to ship without external gyro packs, as well as augmenting some of the motion-sensitive capabilities of the Revolution?s controller when used in its stead. The unit will also feature a built-in rumble, which leads us to our next point?

  • Without sufficient progress in battery storage technology, the battery life for the Game Boy Evolution will be the lowest of any Nintendo handheld to date, though to make up for this fact the GBE?s rechargeable battery will be detachable. Thanks to a mandatory sleep mode requirement akin to that of the DS, as well as thanks to a small rechargeable internal battery, battery packs will be hot-swappable with minimal interruption of gameplay. And finally?

  • The unit will sport a clamshell design reminiscient of the GBA SP, though slightly larger and with more ergonomically designed shoulder buttons. It will also be available in an stunning variety of colors and themes, unless you live in Germany, France, Indonesia, Brazil, Thailand, any country both beginning and ending in a vowel, every third nation whose flag incorporates a cross, or pretty much anywhere where the native language is not Japanese.

There, happy? That should be more than enough to tide the Game Boy faithful over until E3 2006. Anything we overlooked? Let us know! Until then, happy speculation.

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