Nintendo is building a handy Game Boy case for your smartphone
Phones are great for gaming, so perhaps it's not surprising that Nintendo would look at phones as a platform ripe for their devices.
That could be the reason they've filed a patent for a phone cover that seems to also function as a playable Game Boy.
First spotted by The Verge, the patent describes "a cover that is removably attachable to electronic equipment having a touch screen equipped with a touch panel of an electrostatic capacitance system and a display." In other words, a phone that would reveal itself to be a functioning electronic system.
The cover would not come with pixelated screen of its own. Rather, there would be a section of the phone's screen left visible on the case's top side. Presumably, the hole presents a space for Nintendo to develop an app that would allow for Game Boy games to be played on a smartphone.
It's a neat idea for sure, but also one that already kind of exists in the form of the (flawed) Hyperkin Smart Boy, though the design shown off in Nintendo's patent takes a slightly different approach by encompassing the whole phone and apparently controlling apps directly instead of requiring cartridges.
After years of resistance to the platform, Nintendo began making games for phones in 2016. While early entries like Miimoto and Super Mario Run made viral splashes, their popular mostly died out when the next meme came along. Speaking to disappointment with Super Mario Run in 2017, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima told investors that "Nintendo has a large stock of valuable IP characters and has developed many games. We cannot, however, simply port our existing games and IP to smart-device applications."
Rather, Kimishima suggested, "a primary concern is enabling our consumers to play on not only smart devices, but also our dedicated video game systems."
Nintendo has been embracing these seemingly contradictory impulses ever since the explosion of the Switch. A mobile device on its own, its popularity suggests that users enjoying bringing their Nintendo games with them.
Converting a cellphone into a Game Boy would fit into Kimishima's strategy perfectly—users would have their smartphones, but they would temporarily be converted into Nintendo-only devices. With a phone cover acting as a D-pad and buttons, users would have to physically lift the cover in order to access the rest of their phone.
It's still just a patent, and patents don't necessarily mean there are any future business plans. All they can tell an outsider is that someone inside Nintendo had an idea and that at some point someone thought it was worth filing a patent. But this type of phone cover would fit in perfectly with the nostalgia boom started by the NES Classic.
With companies like Sony riding the Classic's coattails, it would make sense that Nintendo would want to further mine their rich IP history.