January 21, 2022

This 20-year-old canceled Recreation Boy Shade peripheral would have put an affordable smartphone in your pocket


Forward of its time: Historical past is sprinkled with little-known tech units that often make their method into the general public discussion board after many dormant years accumulating mud on a shelf. Over the weekend, YouTube channel DidYouKnowGaming? revealed a 20-year-old Nintendo peripheral that—at solely $50—would have transformed a Recreation Boy Shade into a comparatively low cost smartphone.

Nintendo licensed a number of attention-grabbing peripherals within the early days of handheld gaming. The Recreation Boy Digicam and Recreation Boy Printer have been a pair. It additionally had the Recreation Hyperlink Cable to permit for two-player gaming, then later supplied a four-player adapter. And who may neglect the Useful Boy—an attachable monstrosity with a display magnifier, exterior audio system, and a joystick. You may nonetheless purchase these on Amazon, by the best way.

On Sunday, YouTuber and online game historical past buff Liam Robertson revealed a never-before-seen peripheral for the Recreation Boy Shade known as “Web page Boy.” The gadget would have added smartphone-like options, together with two-way communication, electronic mail, internet shopping, and extra.

Web page Boy shared a number of capabilities with an earlier canceled mission known as WorkBoy for the first-generation Recreation Boy. It was not a coincidence since inventor Eddie Gill conceived each units. Gill had designed and pitched the WorkBoy in 1992 as a technique to give the moveable gaming gadget PDA performance. Nevertheless, an upcoming Recreation Boy worth discount made it unmarketable, contemplating that the peripheral would price as a lot because the console.

Quick ahead to 1999 when Gill and his brother Chris pitched the Web page Boy to Nintendo execs, working beneath the corporate title Wizard. They didn’t have any working prototypes, however Gill commissioned Sirius Modelmaking to create the bodily mockup used of their presentation to Nintendo. The gadget plugged into the Recreation Boy Shade’s cartridge slot and had a pass-through port so customers may nonetheless play video games with it hooked up. The design was not dissimilar in look to among the earlier compact flip telephones.

It was the start of the mobile period, however the gadget would use the cheaper radio communication utilized in pagers, therefore the title. Two-way paging had simply gained a foothold within the trade, and the brothers needed to make use of that to ship smartphone capabilities at a time when smartphones have been uncommon and tremendous costly. The Gill brothers leveraged this in a presentation to Nintendo, highlighting that the corporate may even use the gadget’s real-time communication for advertising functions (video above).

Nintendo was extremely intrigued by the proposal and regarded into its feasibility for the following three years. Sadly, the corporate nixed the thought in 2002 as a result of the tech would have solely been accessible to the US Recreation Boy person base, considerably defeating its said objective of speaking wirelessly with anybody on the planet. Even at a fairly modest worth level of $50, the gadget didn’t appear cost-effective sufficient for Nintendo contemplating the exclusion of its European and Japanese markets. So as soon as once more, Eddie Gill needed to shelve an excessively bold Nintendo peripheral that was just too forward of its time.

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