Nintendo may soon be offering gamers a legal way to play older games, as official Nintendo Game Boy emulators may soon be a reality for smart phones and other devices that have a built-in screen. The house that Mario built has long been a stickler for moving forward into the digital space.
Nintendo has also been a staunch advocate for intellectual property rights, and as a result, many emulators have found themselves shut down by Nintendo, only to have others replace them. Whether or not it is because Nintendo is tired of all the gamers playing illegal ROMs of their favorite games, a patent approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office shows that Nintendo may be bringing emulation of the Game Boy family to mobile phones and tablets sooner than we think.
Emulation is a way for a computer, phone, or other device to play a game on a platform other than its original. In other words, emulators make it possible for you to play your own Super Nintendo games on your iOS phone. While emulation itself is not illegal, possessing a game for emulation (commonly referred to as a ROM) that you do not own the physical copy for is. Once personal computers become powerful enough, gamers began to program emulators of the original NES, SNES, Sega and other older gaming platforms. Sites loaded with the game files sprang into being, and the internet became awash with ROMs to play on the comfort of laptops or desktop computers.
Some emulators were sold commercially, such as the Connectix Virtual Game Station, which allowed for Mac computers to play PlayStation 1 games. Sony took the company to court and eventually purchased it and mothballing the software, which CNET reported on back in 2001. While Sony never released an official emulator, they are now offering a service called Playstation Now for gamers who may want to play the older games from Sony’s back catalog. The games can be played on virtually any Sony product, including their Bravia TV line and mobile phones. More recent examples of emulation include a massive archive of 900 classic arcade games being released for play on your web browser as the Inquisitr has reported on previously. Nintendo may now be looking at doing something similar indicated by filing a patent which calls for bringing a Game Boy emulator to devices with a built in screen such as mobile phones and tablets.
With an official Nintendo Game Boy emulator, Nintendo may be finally breaking down and allowing their games to be played on devices other than their own proprietary hardware. This would break with years of tradition from the Japanese company, which has kept a very tight fist on its brands both in their depiction and how the way they are consumed by their customers. The idea of being able to legally play A Link To The Past on an iPhone is such a radical shift in Nintendo’s thinking that it may very well be a sign of desperation. While no reasoning is given on the official patent, Nintendo may be looking for ways to boost their bottom line with the Wii U and 3DS sales lagging far behind their competition. Even with the new 3DS selling extremely well in Japan, according to Nintendo’s latest financial briefing.
However, an official Nintendo Game Boy emulator may not be forthcoming, and the patent is simply a way to shore up legal grounds before going after individual publishers of emulators. Such emulators are immensely popular on jail broken iPhones and the Android platforms. Simply because of the radical departure of Nintendo’s operating methods, this seems to be the more likely of the two options.
While an official Nintendo Game Boy emulator would be a welcome addition to mobile devices or even seat back displays in vehicles, the chances of Nintendo actually producing an emulator are low. Still, the possibility is there and Nintendo certainly would make money off the endeavor based on nostalgia for the old games alone.