The Art Cart. Not Everything is a Game.

Games are not the only thing to come out of the home-brew scene. There is a growing catalogue of Game Boy ROMs that explore the console as a form of personal expression. 

This article aims to explore different types of, what I call, the “Art Cart”. I hope the article will highlight some interesting ROMs for you to check out and also inspire GB Studio creators.

Pixel Art Portfolio and Music-Cart

These two categories are perhaps the more obvious Art Cart. I would recommend any budding pixel artist to create a series of images that can be linked together in GB Studio. Making a physical copy of your images is a cool way to distribute your own art! This is a great option for chip-tune composers too! Check out the GB Studio docs to learn the technical requirements of images and music. A portfolio and album will normally be more than one image or song and have the ability to move forward and back between the set. Titles and descriptions can be added too.

Tronimal’s “digital retro park – museum on a cart” project is a great example of both, worth downloading.

One way to bring your portfolio of images to life is to embed it in the game mechanic of a top down RPG similar to the Zelda series. Make a game where the player controls the visitor to a museum and can interact with the exhibition. In this method there is a non linear and spatial metaphor that is included in the exploration of the art.

“Game Boy Camera Gallery 2022.” A gallery of GB Camera images.

Simulation or parody software

I have found a few ROMs that seek to emulate operating systems or other software. I am not thinking of tools that actually work but ROMs that provide an experience. They imitate the experience of software and apps and are conducted within a narrative. Usually desktop icons and folder icons reveal text and images that convey a feeling or story.

“GB-OS” A simulation of an operating system on the Game Boy!

Game Poem

A game poem or gaming poetry is a ROM that has all the attributes of a game, like controllable sprites and interactive environments, but is perhaps more obscure in it’s intent. This approach to making something with GB Studio is more a sensibility. Make a game in the spirit of creating an experience and to convey an idea. It may tell a story, construct a simple concept, or present worlds to explore.

Ars Ludicra – A series of poetic experiences created for the Game Boy.

So these are some broad categories of Art Cart I have recognized, what did I miss?

The next time you want to create a GB ROM but feel short on time, remember there are many creative options at your fingertips. An image, animation or music-cart is totally valid. When sharing your next experiments, remember to use the tag #ArtCart on social media.

For further thoughts, watch Rob Doman’s YouTube video on the subject.

Liked it? Take a second to support GB Studio Central on Patreon!