Revisiting the Game Boy Camera

January 19, 2017

Back when we were younger, my brother received a Game Boy Camera and Game Boy Printer for a birthday or Christmas. It was always fascinating how we could capture and print our photos, especially due to how uncommon and expensive digital cameras were back then.

It's now 2017, and everyone has a device capable of taking pictures on them at all times. Game Boy Camera selfies naturally don't compare to those taken on the latest smartphones. But let's put some AA batteries in my Game Boy and check out this outdated piece of tech once more; who knows what ancient photos are stored in its memory.

Upon first booting up the game, you are greeted with a sped-up animation of a guy dancing in a Mario costume. The oddness doesn't let up - no seriously,ย watch this. The software for the camera is incredibly quirky, hilarious, and at times just plain weird. With hidden menus and features, the game had plenty of content to offer to young photographers. From being able to place stickers and text, to capturing someone's face for use in one of the mini-games, there are loads of ways to entertain yourself.

This is a ancient high-res photo of my Mum's living room, you can hardly see the pixels.

Let's discuss the hardware. Released in 1998 and available in a myriad of colours, it became the first digital camera for many. With it's 256ร—224 photo resolution and 4-colour palette, the quality of images taken were limited at best. And although it seems now primitive, there is no understating the way it appealed to Game Boy owners. Yes, the pictures are a blurry pixelated mess, but being able to transform your gaming system into your own personal camera ensured that the Game Boy Camera would be a success. Nintendo managed to sell 500,000 units during its first 3 weeks on sale in Japan.

By hooking up the Game Boy Printer, users were able to print their digital photos onto small, self-adhesive pieces of paper. The printer used thermal technology instead of ink, which is also used to print receipts in shops. This allowed Nintendo to offer users additional paper rolls to purchase, without them also requiring new ink. The major downside is that after some time, the image on the paper would tend to fade.

The Game Boy Camera and Printer can be both found cheaply online. If you enjoy playing around with outdated gadgets, I highly recommend giving it a go. Just don't expect to win any photography awards.

Interested in viewing more Game Boy Camera pictures? Check out this Flickr group.