Revisiting the Game Boy Camera

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 own 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 But let’s put some AA batteries in my Game Boy and check out this outdated piece of tech once more.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, 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 plenty of ways to entertain yourself.

This is a high-res photo of my Mum’s living room (~2004), 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 users. With it’s 256×224 photo resolution and 4-colour palette, the quality of images taken were limited at best. And although it seems primitive nowadays 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 of sale in Japan.

Yes, that’s me. Please don’t steal my identity.

By hooking up the Game Boy Printer users were able to print their digital photos onto small, self adhesive paper. The printer did not use ink, instead it used thermal technology. The same sort of technology that is used to print off receipts in shops. This allowed Nintendo to offer users additional paper rolls to purchase, without them also needing to order new ink. The major downside being that after a period of time the image on the paper will tend to fade.

Both the Game Boy Camera and Printer can be found cheaply on online sites. If you enjoy playing around with outdated gadgets I highly recommend giving it a go.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.


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