BitBoy: a simple way to bring your Game Boy Camera memories to life
The summer of 1998 – Years before the revolution of front-facing cameras and the duck-face pout, the Game Boy Camera was released in PAL territories.
Take photos of yourself, your friends, your dog; then maybe give them alien antennae and a pig snout, before putting a frame around it and printing it off, This was cool!
Unfortunately, unless you printed these off on the clunky Game Boy Printer and kept them safe, chances are they were doomed to be lost.
Without going through an arduous process of buying old PC components and trying to get your old copy of Windows XP to run smoothly long enough for it to work, there was no way to share your old photos with friends and family on social media, or simply ensure that your memories were preserved.
Flash forward to 2015, and news emerged that Alexander Bahr via his website GameBoyPhoto.com were developing the BitBoy; a device that, once connected to your Game Boy, would provide a simple process of transferring photos from your Game Boy Camera straight to an SD card.
The process is achieved by essentially fooling the Game Boy into thinking that it is actually a Game Boy Printer that has been connected, and so the camera sends the file over to the BitBoy, which saves it as a .BMP file on the SD card.
Upon opening the package the BitBoy arrived in, it all seems very minimal – a jiffy bag, the BitBoy, a micro-USB cable, and a 4gb SDHC card. There’s not even a manual, but GameBoyPhoto.com have one available as a free PDF file.
It’s all pretty straight forward and easy, but that manual explains any queries a user may have.
At the time of ordering, GameBoyPhoto.com also gave the option to order a separate USB transfer cable with the BitBoy; in case yours was lost to the sands of time (or more likely stuffed down the back of a cupboard or trapped under your bed), saving the hours of searching that would ensue when it came time to rescue your old snaps.
This, along with the pre-packed micro USB charging/transfer cable means that you’re all set to rescue your pictures, even if you are without a card reader.
The whole process is incredibly simple; as it requires no more input than it would have done to print the images all those years ago – and in doing so, brings back a lot of fond memories of printing your photos off as stickers for yourself and your friends.
You insert the SD card into the slot on the side of the unit, connect your Game Boy using the USB Link Cable, make sure your Game Boy Camera is inserted, and power it up! At this point it’s almost like muscle memory navigating to “View”, selecting the image you want, and tapping Right on the D-Pad to select print (making sure you’ve added all the stamps and frames you want first!), and then admiring the little Teddy Bear running on the beach ball while the professor takes notes. Very Nintendo.
To import the photos onto your computer, remove the SD card from the BitBoy and insert it into an SD card slot on your machine – or if you don’t have that or a card reader, simply use the Micro USB cable provided with the BitBoy to turn it into one! The SD card will be automatically formatted into a file tree that is simply “Game Boy Camera”, “00000”, and then your images. From there, it’s a smooth process of drag & drop before you open them in your viewer or editor of choice.
As well as the photos taken from your Game Boy Camera, the BitBoy can also rescue your achievements from Super Mario Bros Deluxe, Pokemon Yellow, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and several others, meaning all of your medals and Pokedex entries are ready to be shared with the world once again!
The images appear at a tiny 24kb in size, and 160x144px in resolution; and while this is incredibly small by modern standards of digital photography, it’s absolutely possible to work with these in any standard image manipulation program to simply increase their size, or to play around with them in any way you see fit.
The images are produced in black & white using the 4-color palette of the Game Boy system and this all adds to the aesthetic of the images and the charm of the process itself.
I recently used one of my BitBoy photos as my Facebook profile picture, and received many admiring comments and curious questions from friends!
Initially the BitBoy was only to be built and dispatched to a very limited number of pre-order customers (myself being one of them), however it now seems they’ve opened the gates to any and all comers.
With a current price tag of $100 + postage for the BitBoy itself, and a further $15 for the Link cable (currently out of stock at the time of writing), anyone can get their hands on the device and start to fall in love with the Game Boy Camera all over again.
The combination of simplicity, compact design (the unit itself measures in at a tiny 5cm x 4cm x 1.5cm!), and the metaphoric value the BitBoy provides in giving new life not only to the Game Boy Camera itself but also your long-lost photos, makes the device a brilliant little addition to the Game Boy’s arsenal – rejuvenating one of the long-forgotten peripherals of a revolutionary gaming device.
More information on the GameBoyPhoto is available via their
Facebook or Twitter at: @Gameboyphoto
Or you can head over to BigCartel to get your order in now.
Hope you enjoyed the review, it should be the first of many game related reviews coming soon (including the EverDrive for Nintendo 64, that I am currently reviewing). If you have any questions, please fire away in the comments!
- Luke Weaver