Game Boy Comes to Nintendo Switch Online

For those who missed the Nintendo Direct  announcement, Game Boy has been added to the lineup of older consoles available free to those who own Nintendo Switch Online, and Gameboy Advance has been added for those who own Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack. And it’s all available now!

So being the person I am, I got it straight away and started messing around with it. In this article, I will only be covering the Game Boy part of the launch. The initial launch titles for the Game Boy are:

  • Tetris
  • Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
  • Gargoyle’s Quest
  • Metroid II – Return of Samus
  • Kirby’s Dream Land
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX
  • Game & Watch Gallery 3
  • Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare
  • Wario Land 3

With another 4 titles announced to be coming sometime in the future, including Kirby Tilt ’n’ Tumble, which is a unique game that requires you to physically tilt the Gameboy to play the game.

My initial impressions on the Game Boy release are that the emulator seems to work well. I don’t notice any inherent issues playing games like Tetris that seem smooth and quite playable. But I feel that the library is a bit subpar, with the decades of Nintendo IP’s I feel like they could have significantly increased the launch library. While they do appear to be adding more modern features like online multiplayer and other game-specific features like Kirby Tilt ’n’ Tumble has. There are many other games that have simple single player that dont need those features that can easily be added.

With the release of Gameboy for the Switch, I was curious as to how well the official Nintendo emulator is built. Having access to a custom firmware switch I was able to add the gameboy test roms to the Game Boy NSO using an *unreleased beta version of CaVE Database Manager to test how well the emulator runs in comparison to things such as an actual Gameboy Color or the Analogue Pocket. It seems to pass a reasonable number of tests that I ran, but I am concerned about the number of roms that it didn’t pass for an officially licensed Nintendo emulator. 

All in all, I feel like the Gameboy NSO release is a bit lackluster. I would have loved to see more titles added at release, tapping into their rather large pool of IP’s, adding in games like Yoshi’s Cookie, Donkey Kong Land, or even more of the Super Mario Land titles. With the only announced Pokémon game being the Pokémon TCG, I wonder if we could have had an official way to play Pokémon TCG 2 in English, given it has thus far been a Japanese-only title, yet Nintendo has released similar games such as Star Fox 2 for the SNES Mini. Who knows, they might be waiting for Pokémon Day to announce more Pokémon content another time.

*Since writing this article, version 1.4.5 of CaVE Database Manager has officially been released with Gameboy and Gameboy Advance support.

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