Now We Can Play 'GTA V' And Watch YouTube On A Game Boy
Nintendo was a pretty forward-thinking company when it came to the early internet: the NES had its own modem peripheral you could use to bet on horse races, and the SNES had a satellite-based connection service that came complete with Nintendo-approved Rule 34 comics. It was like a window into the world of tomorrow. And yet, not even Nintendo themselves could have predicted that one day, the Game Boy's muddy 8-bit screen would be used to look stuff up in a massive online encyclopedia:
Or even browse a video streaming service and watch nature documentaries:
This is all thanks to the work of Sebastian Staacks of the YouTube channel there oughta be, where he says "there oughta be ..." and then, instead of simply taking another bong hit, actually makes his wild ideas happen. This project started when Staacks came across his childhood Game Boy in his parents' attic and realized that 1) man, that screen sucked, huh, and 2) it can't even go online. He fixed that last part by building a WiFi-enabled GB cartridge and creating a program that turns Wikipedia pages into text that is readable on that crappy screen; as he explains in this fascinating video that we understood about 20% of:
But that was just the start. Staacks asked his viewers for suggestions on what to do with this technology, and a bunch of them said "browse YouTube," probably not thinking that was actually possible. If so, they underestimated his powers: he went and created a script that can turn any video into a series of images the Game Boy can display, which are then streamed into the WiFi cartridge in real-time. At last, if you're stuck on a Game Boy game, you can now use this thing to look up a video tutorial within the console itself.
But wait, if Staacks made it so the Game Boy's button inputs are sent to your computer (to enter YouTube search terms, for instance) while streaming a live video image, doesn't that mean that you could also use this stuff to play present-day PC games in glorious 8-bit graphics? Yes, you can, and Staacks demonstrated that by playing some Grand Theft Auto V ... not very well. But still, a great day for science.
While Staacks says he won't be manufacturing or selling more WiFi cartridges himself, he made all of this information open-source, so perhaps someone else will come along and mass-produce them. Considering that he even made it so the console can send and receive text messages, we can envision a future in which the Game Boy has come back in style and made all other mobile technology obsolete. See, old Nintendo consoles are still a window into the world of tomorrow.
Maxwell Yezpitelok co-runs a Nintendo-centric YouTube channel, NintendoDuo.
Top image: Sebastian Staacks