Often thought to be a relic of the past, Nintendo’s beloved Game Boy handheld console is still getting some love from a niche sector of indie developers.
Pioneers of the Game Boy handheld family, the Nintendo Game Boy and its successor the Game Boy Colour, are widely known by gamers and game developers both young and old. An 8-bit console with simple, intuitive controls, its impressive battery life and durability let it outsell its competitors, which included SEGA’s Game Gear, despite being technologically inferior to its fourth-generation rivals.
In fact, the Game Boy and Game Boy Colour sold so well that they are still the third best-selling video game consoles of all time, narrowly beating the Playstation 4.
While it is still beloved by many old fans out there, the Game Boy and its coloured counterpart are no longer in production, with second hand sites such as eBay and Amazon usually regarded as the only option for the current generation of gamers to get their hands on a legitimate one.
As a result, Game Boy focused developers are getting increasingly rare in the market, and Nintendo’s tendency to discontinue its older consoles isn’t helping either. With a much lower demand, the current Game Boy developer scene is considered a niche to most, barring ported and emulated versions of the classics.
Meet the makers
Spacebot Interactive is a UK-based indie game developer and publisher that focuses primarily on classic and retro-style video games. They are one of the few teams that still continue to develop games for the Game Boy/Game Boy Colour and other retro consoles, and they aim to give players a nostalgic and genuine gaming experience by creating video games of the highest quality.
Spacebot Interactive also releases versions of retro games for modern gaming platforms such as PC and the Nintendo Switch, thereby making the old classics a lot more accessible to today’s gamers.
Incube8 Games is a game publisher that primarily focuses on retro video game cartridges – specifically those for 8-bit handheld consoles. With the support of Retro Modding’s expertise and supply chain, they help other indie developers publish physical versions of their Game Boy/Game Boy Colour games.
Another name in this not-so-large slice of the market is The Retro Room, whose upcoming game Gelatinous is being shipped as a physical boxed release, “just like the good old days”.
A relic from the past
Incub8’s most recent project is in collaboration with Spacebot Interactive to release Infinity, a tactical RPG that will be available on Steam and the Nintendo Switch as ports, and of course, on the Game Boy Colour.
With a rich storyline, over 5o explorable areas, and unique items in gorgeous 8-bit graphics, Infinity could have had it all. Originally developed from 1999 to 2001 by Affinix Software, the decline of the Game Boy Colour led to publishing issues and the disbanding of the studio, which was not an uncommon thing back then, as the market shifted to revolve around Nintendo’s latest handheld console at that time – the Gameboy Advance.
Finally in 2002, Infinity was officially cancelled, leaving nothing but what-ifs and what-could-have-beens as it was left behind in history, fated to be forgotten along with thousands of other discontinued projects. Developers are often at the mercy of the platforms they’re creating for – a problem that still persists today.
15 years later, however, a free unfinished version of the game was released as a ROM, at which point it was widely celebrated as one of the last Game Boy Colour games. Now, on the game’s 20th anniversary, Spacebot Interactive and Incube8 Games have assembled a team of former Affinix Software developers, along with some new faces, in order to finish what had been started and give Infinity the physical release it was robbed off all those decades ago.
Infinity‘s Kickstarter has reached its Switch and Steam enhancement stretch goals, meaning that users without a Game Boy Colour will even be able to play with a few quality of life changes, such as improved graphics and audio.
Perhaps Infinity‘s miraculous revival is a sign of hope for other long-forgotten Game Boy games and game developers out there.
Written by Glenn Lai