Game Boy Camera
A blue Game Boy Camera. Various other colors were also available.
ManufacturerNintendo
Product familyGame Boy line
TypeVideo game accessory
GenerationFourth generation
Release date

The Game Boy Camera, released as Pocket Camera[a] in Japan, is a Nintendo accessory for the handheld Game Boy game console. It was released on February 21, 1998, in Japan, and manufacturing ceased in late 2002. As a toy for user-generated content, it can be used to shoot grayscale photographs, edit them or create original drawings, and transfer images between GBC units or to the 64DD art game suite Mario Artist. The accessory featured a 180°-swivel front-facing camera that allowed users to capture selfies. Its images can be printed to thermal paper with the Game Boy Printer. The GBC's cartridge contains minigames based on Nintendo's early games such as the arcade video game Space Fever and the Game & Watch handheld game Ball, and a chiptune music sequencer; photographers have embraced its technological limitations as artistic challenges.

Overview

Installed in a Game Boy Color, with the camera rotated

The Game Boy Camera (GBC) interfaces with the Game Boy Printer, which utilizes thermal paper to print saved images. Both the camera and the printer were marketed by Nintendo as light-hearted entertainment devices aimed mainly at children in all three major video game regions of the world: Japan, North America, and Europe. N64 Magazine (which has since been superseded by NGamer) dedicated a monthly section to the device.

The GBC is compatible with all of the Game Boy line except Game Boy Micro. Video output is possible via the Super Game Boy for the Super NES and the Game Boy Player for the GameCube. The camera has a 128×128 pixel CMOS sensor,[3][4] and can store 128×112, grayscale digital images using the 4-color palette of the Game Boy system.

The Game Boy Camera line has five different standard colors of models: blue, green, red, yellow, and clear purple (Japan only). There is a limited edition gold themed for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which contains unique stamps, and was available only in the United States through a mail-order offer from Nintendo Power.

In September 2020, information was leaked of an unreleased Hello Kitty version of the camera.[5]

Functionality

A photo of a Ford Tempo taken with the GBC

The camera is controlled, images are manipulated, and minigames are played by Game Boy software running from the camera's attached cartridge. Individual photographs can be taken and edited with features including a delay timer, time lapse, trick lenses like mirroring and scaling, montage, and panorama for stitching together component photos into one large image. The user can further edit the images by placing Nintendo's stamps, or by freehand doodles. Images can be combined as frames of an animation. Images can be interconnected with clickable hyperlinks in "hot spots" mode.

Images can be transferred via the cable, to be printed on the Game Boy Printer, copied between GBC units, or copied via the Nintendo 64 controller's Transfer Pak to a 64DD floppy disk. The Japanese GBC is optionally integrated into the Mario Artist suite of multimedia games for the 64DD peripheral. There, users can create drawn and 3D-animated avatars of themselves based on photographs taken with the camera, integrate these personalized avatars into various 64DD games including Mario Artist and SimCity 64, or post art on the Internet through Randnet.[6] Third-party vendors have reverse engineered the GBC system to create modern transfer methods such as USB, SD cards and Wi-Fi.[7][8]

The GBC cartridge's software has numerous references to other Nintendo products. There are a few differences between the North American and Japanese versions, including the unlockable B album pictures and the stamps that can be placed on pictures.[9] The software has a few Easter eggs, some of which have been described as "creepy" and "scary."[10]

Nintendo reportedly had plans to release a successor to the Game Boy Camera for the Game Boy Advance called the GameEye[11][page needed] which would take color photos and feature connectivity with the GameCube through a game titled Stage Debut, but neither the GameEye nor Stage Debut were released.

Minigames

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Development

Jupiter and its moons taken with a GBC through a 10" telescope

Initially, the Game Boy Camera was not well received within Nintendo. However, Masato Kuwahara approached Creatures, Inc. President Hirokazu Tanaka regarding the development of the software for the device, which solidified the project.[13] The camera's built-in software was co-developed by Nintendo Research & Development 1 and the Japanese company Jupiter, with Tanaka directing the project.[14][15][16] The Game Boy Camera was launched with an initial MSRP of US$49.95.[17]

Legacy

The Camera sold close to 500,000 units in its first three weeks of availability in Japan.[1]

As one of the earliest consumer digital cameras, the GBC has been legitimized for user-generated content, especially photography. Modern computer connectivity has required experimentation for image retrieval.[7][8]

An example of a color photo taken with a GBC using red, green and blue filters

The cover art of Neil Young's 2000 album Silver & Gold was taken using a Game Boy Camera.[18]

In 2000, a professional photographer created a color workflow similar to the world's earliest color photography, to process GBC's grayscale photos through red, green, and blue filters to produce a color photograph.[19] An artist using a Game Boy Camera and three colour process has developed a series of works since 2012, focussing on how the interplay between what the abstracted images reveal and conceal about the photographed environment. As well as using the Game Boy printer within his practice.[20][21] A PhD student performed astrophotography of scenes including Jupiter, through academic telescopes using GBC.[8] In 2017, a research engineer developed a neural network application to automatically convert GBC monochrome images into color images.[22] Several modern smartphone apps have modes to simulate GBC image quality.[23] In 2016, an Instagram artist included the vintage GBC hardware in his repertoire of high-technology stylized filters, creating a new gallery dedicated only to GBC photography, because its primitive camera "forces you to find a way to take beautiful pictures".[7]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Japanese: ポケットカメラ

References

  1. ^ a b "GB Camera Gets June Launch". GameSpot. March 18, 1998. Archived from the original on October 16, 2000. Retrieved October 29, 2022.
  2. ^ "Game Boy Camera". Nintendo of America, Inc. Archived from the original on May 30, 1998.
  3. ^ Arthur Ed LeBouthillier. "Inside the Gameboy Camera "Eyeball"". Robotics Society of Southern California. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  4. ^ "Mitsubishi M64282FP Datasheet" (PDF). Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  5. ^ "New Nintendo Leak Includes Numerous Unreleased Game Boy Games". September 10, 2020.
  6. ^ "GDC: Miyamoto Unveils Camera Connection". IGN. March 18, 1999. Archived from the original on June 10, 2001. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Rougeau, Michael (October 22, 2016). "Meet the Instagram phenom making art with a Game Boy Camera from 1998". Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Pietrow, Alex (February 7, 2017). "2bit Astrophotography with the Game Boy Camera". Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  9. ^ "Game Boy Camera | NinDB". nindb.net. Retrieved February 24, 2023.
  10. ^ Yezpitelok, Maxwell; M. Asher Cantrell (July 25, 2011). "7 Creepy Video Game Easter Eggs You'll Wish Were Never Found". Cracked.com. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  11. ^ Nintendo Power June 2003 Issue.
  12. ^ Koerber, Brian (May 15, 2014). "Take a Pixelated Look at NYC Through a Game Boy Camera". Mashable. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  13. ^ Harris, Craig (March 27, 2009). "GDC 09: Nintendo Prototypes that Never Made It". IGN. Retrieved June 15, 2009.
  14. ^ Claude Moyse, Markus Pfitzner (June 1998). "Der Mann hinter der Kamera!". Club Nintendo (in German). Nintendo of Europe GmbH (Ausgabe 3): 15.
  15. ^ "ポケットカメラ". Jupiter Corporation. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  16. ^ Nintendo Research & Development 1, Jupiter Corporation (June 1, 1998). Game Boy Camera. Nintendo of America, Inc. Scene: staff credits.((cite book)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  17. ^ "CNN - New Game Boy takes digital photos - Mar. 18, 1998". www.cnn.com. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  18. ^ "Neil Young – Silver & Gold". Human-highway.org. April 25, 2000. Retrieved May 1, 2023.
  19. ^ Devenish, Alan (June 28, 2014). "Awesome Portraits and Landscapes, Shot With a Game Boy Camera". Wired. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  20. ^ "Untitled Photo-set [Gameboy Camera](2012)". Jim Lockey. June 20, 2020. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  21. ^ "jimlockey.co.uk". September 24, 2018. Archived from the original on September 24, 2018. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  22. ^ Johnson, Allison (February 21, 2017). "Neural network converts Game Boy Camera images into color photos". DPReview. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  23. ^ McWhertor, Michael (March 31, 2011). "8-bit Pocket Camera Turns Your iPhone Into A Game Boy Camera". Kotaku. Retrieved February 19, 2020.