Wiki Index

Welcome to the Game Boy wiki! This wiki aims to answer most of the common questions, list useful guides and tools, and various other things about playing, modding and maintaining your Game Boys. Some sections have been broken out into separate pages to help with the readability of this wiki.

Notice any mistakes or have any suggestions for improvement? Please submit a pull request via github.

Last Content Revision: 2020-08-18

NEW Confused/intimidated by the sheer amount of information in this wiki? I don’t blame you. I’ve tried diving in to other hobbies only to be turned off by the type of information available. There’s a new section of the wiki that has a more beginner oriented look at Game Boys: New Users

Contents

Bolded items go to separate pages within this wiki whereas the rest of the links go to items on this page.

Systems

The Game Boy line saw many different models and revisions over its 16-year lifespan. Here is a comprehensive list of them (in order of release). All systems came in different variations or colors. Check out this comprehensive list for more info and examples.

  • Game Boy / DMG-01 - Later nicknamed “DMG” after its product code “Dot Matrix Game”. The original “gray brick” was released in 1989. In 1995 the “Play It Loud” series released. The “PIL” series only added new shell colors and was not full a hardware revision. PIL DMG consoles use “chip on board” package components and thus the PCBs are covered in epoxy blobs.

  • Super Game Boy / SNS-027 - An accessory for the SNES, the Super Game Boy was essentially a DMG Game Boy without the screen, link port, and buttons. It has the ability to “colorize” games by assigning different colors to the four shades of gray. Later, games would add Super Game Boy enhancements, creating more than four colors on the screen, special borders, extra music tracks, and in some rare cases even entire Super Nintendo games that cannot be played on the Game Boy at all. The original Super Game Boy ran a small percent faster than the handheld Game Boys because it used the SNES as the source of its clock/CPU speed. A later model, only released in Japan, would correct this by giving the “Super Game Boy 2” its very own clock, as well as adding a link port. There are DIY solutions to fix this clock speed inaccuracy.

  • Game Boy Pocket / MGB-001 - (1996) This model is a much smaller redesign of the original DMG-01 Game Boy. It uses two AAA batteries and has a slightly improved screen with a gray reflection film compared to the DMG’s green. Early models of the MGB lacked the battery indicator LED found next to the screen.

  • Game Boy Light / MGB-101 - A system exclusive to Japan, the Game Boy Light was released a mere six months before the Game Boy Color. It is essentially a slightly redesigned Game Boy Pocket with an added electroluminescent backlight. The screen from the Pocket can be used in a Game Boy Light, albeit without the backlight. It also uses AA batteries instead of the Pocket’s AAA batteries to help increase battery life and give it the extra power needed for the backlight.

  • Game Boy Color / CGB-001 - (1998) The Game Boy Color was the first major hardware revision to the Game Boy line, with improved hardware and a full color screen. This system had full backward compatibility with all original Game Boy games, with the ability to apply some basic colors to different elements in older Game Boy games. When starting classic Game Boy games, the player can use different button combinations to change the colors on the screen, or to the original black and white. This does not apply to Game Boy Color games.

  • Game Boy Advance / AGB-001 - (2001) Nintendo’s first 32-bit system in handheld format. In addition to the change to a “landscape” format handheld, the system also added L and R buttons. Like the Game Boy Color, the Game Boy Advance was fully backwards compatible and can play all official Game Boy games. Some later Game Boy color games even added GBA enhancements in the form of changed palettes and extra features. The Advance and Color however run on much different and voltages. To make the system backwards compatible the system actually has much of the hardware of a GBC, with a switch in the cartridge slot determining which hardware will run when the system is turned on.

  • Game Boy Player / DOL-017 - The Game Boy Player was an add-on for the Nintendo GameCube that could play GBA games, as well as all older Game Boy games. Much like the Super Game Boy before it, it did not emulate, instead containing most of the hardware of a normal GBA, without the screen and buttons. Although the player itself is fairly common, finding one with the accompanying GameCube disc is harder. There is a popular homebrew solution for those who do not have or do not wish to use the start up disc.

  • Game Boy Advance SP / AGS-001 - (2003) The first major redesign of the GBA changed the system to a clamshell design and also added a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The biggest difference however was the addition of a front light to the screen. Excluding the somewhat rare Japanese exclusive Game Boy Light, this was Nintendo’s first handheld with an internally lit screen. This system also switched from rubber membrane buttons, common on almost all Nintendo systems to this point, to dome tact switches. One common complaint about this system has been the removal of the headphone port, but there are adapters for them.

  • Game Boy Advance SP / AGS-101 - (2005) Nearly Identical to the original GBA SP, the 101 SP model finally added the much sought after backlit screen to the Game Boy line. Interestingly, this model debuted almost a full year after the release of the Nintendo DS. Although sold in large numbers, the backlit screen of this SP makes this model one of the most sought-after models of Game Boy, consequently its current price is usually higher than that of other Game Boy models. Exacerbating this price increase is the fact that many systems have been taken apart for their valuable screens.

  • Game Boy Micro / OXY-001 - The last Game boy, released around the same time as the SP-101. This Game boy Had an incredibly small form factor, going back to the “landscape” design of the original GBA. This was the first and only Game Boy to drop backwards compatibility, only playing GBA titles. Although released in fewer colors than other models of Game Boy, the Micro instead had face plates that be swapped out to change the look and color of the front of the system. Finding these face plates in good condition has become difficult. Although aftermarket ones are available, the quality can be dubious.

Related Systems - Although not officially part of the Game Boy line, these systems either play Game Boy games or are very similar.

  • Game Boy Macro - This system is actually a modified Nintendo DS or DS Lite with the top screen removed and set up to play GBA games. Because the DS line lacked the hardware for older Game Boy games, these systems will only play GBA games, much like the Game Boy Micro for which this mod is named after.

  • Pokémon Mini / MIN-001 - Although this system is not part of the Game Boy line, it shares many qualities with other Game Boys of the era. Released shortly after the GBA in 2001, this is Nintendo’s smallest cartridge-based system.

  • Wide Boy 64 - This interesting accessory for Nintendo 64 was only available to developers and journalists, making them incredibly rare. It played all original games and Game Boy Color games. There was reportedly a version that would play Game Boy Advance games, but information is scarce.

  • Revo K101 - This is an aftermarket console that uses partial emulation to play Game Boy Advance games. While this console can run ROMs off of a micro SD card, the main appeal of this system is the high quality backlit LCD and the built in GBA cart slot. This console also includes a link port for multiplayer and is compatible with original Game Boy Advance hardware. The console does have some built in emulators but performance can leave something to be desired. Unfortunately, the LCD is not the proper resolution for playing GBA games at the proper resolution so games are either surrounded by large black bars on the sides or the image can be scaled. The scaling option results in a blurry picture for GBA games.

  • GB Boy Colour - A significant improvement over the original GB Boy, this is a hardware clone of the Game Boy Color. Like the Revo K101 above, this consoles is known for its built in backlit screen and hardware compatibility with Game Paks. But also like the Revo, the screen is not the proper resolution for Game Boy games and the result is a slightly blurry scaled image displayed at the wrong aspect ratio. Some of these consoles include built in games as well.

  • Analogue Pocket - Due out sometime in 2020, this is a FPGA reimplimentation of a Game Boy Advance but in Game Boy Pocket form factor. This console comes complete with modern features such as a 615 PPI display, internal rechargeable battery, USB type C charging with HDMI output (via the dock), and still manages to retain full compatibility with Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games. This console even includes a link port for multiplayer.

Games

  • All Game Boy systems are region-free and are officially referred to by Nintendo as “Game Paks” though game, cart, or cartridge are much more commonly used terms.

  • Original Game Boy games - These cartridges are usually gray in color, although some exceptions exist. These can be played on all Game Boy models except the Micro. All officially released Game Boy games will have a product code on the label, games for these systems will be in the format “DMG-XXX-YYY”, where the “X” letters represent the specific game code, and the “Y” letters represent the country/language it was released in. An example of this is “Super Mario Land”, with the code “DMG-ML-USA” for the U.S. release of the game.

  • Super Game Boy Enhanced games - Early games that were enhanced for the Super Game Boy had a small logo on the cartridge stating “Super Game Boy Game Pak”, like the one seen on this “Donkey Kong” cartridge. However, this standard was later dropped. For a list of games with Super Game Boy enhancements, see here.

  • Game Boy Color enhanced games - These cartridges are usually black in color, although some exceptions exist. These can be played on all Game Boy models except the Micro. When played on the original systems, the games have their usual 4 shades of gray, but when played on a Color system they have full color, and sometimes extra features. Games compatible with both the Color and older systems will be in the format “DMG-XXXZ-YYY”, where the “X” letters represent the specific game code, the “Y” letters represent the country/language it was released in, and the Z letter is the language code. An example of this is “The Legend of Zelda - Links Awakening DX”, with the code “DMG-AZLE-USA” for the U.S. release of the game.

  • Game Boy Color only games - These cartridges are usually a clear/translucent, where the circuit board inside the game can be seen. Other differences from older cartridges are the lack of a notch in the top corner, a slightly curved top, and the top section of the cartridge being convex instead of concave. The convex top portion will also say “Game Boy Color”, instead of the previous “Nintendo Game Boy” of older gray and black cartridges. These games can be played on the Game Boy Color and later systems, except the Micro. Games compatible with only the Game Boy Color will be in the format “CGB-XXXZ-YYY”, where the “X” letters represent the specific game code, the “Y” letters represent the country/language it was released in, and the Z letter is the language code. An example of this is “Pokémon Crystal”, with the code “CGB-BYTP-EUR” for the European release of the game.

  • Game Boy Color games enhanced for the Advance system - Regretfully, there is no standardized markings on Game Boy Color games that have enhanced features when played on the GBA systems. There are very few games that have these. Some are “Shantae”, “Wendy - Every Witch Way”, and both “The Legend of Zelda - Oracle of Season/Ages”

  • Game Boy Advance games - These cartridges are very easy to distinguish, as they’re usually about half the size of a regular Game Boy game, and will not fit in any of the previous systems. These can be played on all GBA models, Micro, and the Game Boy Player on GameCube. Most are dark gray, but there are exceptions. Most GBA games do not use volatile storage for save data so they do not require batteries to function, unlike Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.

  • Exceptions - There are some Game Boy games that are exceptions to these rules, some have different colored cartridges, most notably the Pokémon games. Other cartridges have motion sensors, light sensors, rumble motors, and even cameras. Some games may take into account a feature of the target console and thus do not work on other models. One such example is “Road Rash” for DMG. This game relies on a quirk of the original DMG CPU and is incompatible with GBC or newer. This game was released for GBC later. Another example is Chee-Chai Alien for GBC. This game requires the IR sensor and no other Game Boy console shipped with an IR sensor on board. A “-01” or any other number appended to the product code indicates a hardware revision. Additionally, while most Game Boy Advance games do not require a battery for saving, some early games still do.

Repairs and Damage

Need to do some troubleshooting? Please check the repairs section of the wiki. This section should cover most common issues from no power on a console to no saving on a game.

NEW: Condensed version with only the most common issues

Mods

Got the itch to do some modding? Please check the mods section of the wiki. This section should cover most common mods from backlight kits to rechargeable batteries.

Cartridge Readers

The go to section for reading and writing data to any Game Boy cart is the cart reader section of the wiki. Do note that only modified carts or aftermarket carts may have different games loaded on to them. Planning on replacing your save batteries before they die and wipe your save? Why not back up the save first with one of these.

Flash Carts

The go to section any aftermarket or custom flash carts (work in progress). Your one stop for information on different hardware to play any* ROM on your actual hardware.

  • *you’ll need a cart reader to dump your games so you can get ROM files to actually use with your flash cart.

Tools

This new page is to serve as a quick reference for recommended tools to have.

FAQ

1. Where can I get my hands on _____?

Lots of places sell old game systems. Retro gaming places have been popping up all over the country (and the world) selling old systems, games, and all sorts of gaming nostalgia. Other great places to check out are your local Goodwill or ShopGoodwill.com. In a lot of markets, it can be cheaper to import consoles from Japan rather than buying locally. A fan favorite site for “fixer-uppers” (consoles that usually just need a bit of cleaning) is J4U. Another possibility is to order direct from Yahoo! Auctions Japan. If you are outside Japan, you will likely have to use a proxy service and Buyee is the fan favorite for that. Be careful with online markets, there are a lot of bootleg cartridges in circulation. You can check pictures of potential purchases against this repository if you don’t know what to look for to spot fakes.

2. What is a flash cart? Where do I get one?

A flash cart is a Game Boy cartridge that allows you to download and play homebrew or backup ROM’s of games from your computer on your Game Boy. They come in two different flavors, ROM carts that allow you to load a memory card (typically micro SD) with ROMs and choose the game from a menu or single ROM carts that need to be flashed with a game before use. Most bootleg games or “repros” as they are commonly referred to as are the latter type and it is not recommended to intentionally purchase these. For the other type of flash cart, three of the most recommended are BennVenn’s El Cheapo (for GB/C), the EZ Flash Omega (for GBA), and the EverDrive (for either). For more information, check out the flash cart subsection.

3. Where can I get a Game Boy Micro faceplate?

Rose Colored Gaming has custom faceplates, but they’re frequently sold out. Amazon, eBay, and aliexpress also carry some stock. Quality varies greatly depending on the batch. Bluishsquirrel also stocks them on occasion. Nintendo Australia still has OEM faceplates in their store but they do not ship internationally.

4. Help! My ____ is broken/fake/missing, what do I do?

There are loads of tutorials online and on this subreddit for all sorts of Game Boy related issues. Use the search function! Here are some related links:

Fake Cartridge Thread

HOW TO GUIDE: Identifying fake GB/GBA games even without opening the carts (w/ album)! by u/SeanOrtiz

Help Identifying Fake GBA games

What’s the difference between a GBA SP AGS-001 and AGS-101?

5. What do all these acronyms mean?

With exception of “PIL”, most “acronyms” are the model number of the console.

  • DMG - The original Game Boy

  • PIL - The “Play It Loud!” series. The multi-colored versions of the DMG.

  • MGB - Game Boy Pocket

  • GBC/CGB - Game Boy Color

  • GBA/AGB - Game Boy Advance

  • AGS-001 - Game Boy Advance SP (frontlit)

  • AGS-101 - Game Boy Advance SP (backlit)

  • OXY - Game Boy Micro

Resources

This page is to serve as a quick reference for common external resources that are maintained by their owners.