Nintendo patents a Game Boy smartphone case with physical buttons hinting at an official GB emulator!

Silicon Era discovered that Nintendo had, in March 2018, filed a patent for a Game Boy case for smartphones. From the published schematics, it’s been possible to discern the following:

  • On the front, the case has physical buttons with a conductive sheet underneath in order to emulate a touch on the smartphone’s touchscreen
    • This allows the user to pass input to the touch-screen with the case on even if one’s hand has non-conductive gloves on.
  • Apart from conductive buttons, the front of the case also has a window which drops further hints about Nintendo’s possible intentions to make an officially sanctioned Game Boy emulator for smartphones
  • It obviously includes the regular spaces for a USB connector, front-facing cameras and the speakerphone on the front. I’m personally curious about how this case would look if adapted to a notched smartphone like the iPhone X!

As of right now, Nintendo hasn’t released any official this case but it’s likely that they’ll do so soon as the patent has received substantial media attention on the internet.

Can this case be used for other games/emulators?

J2ME games, like Sims 3 and Chuzzle, would work pretty well with this thanks to its physical buttons

While Nintendo will most likely release a feature-lacking Game Boy emulator for this, I personally think that it has lots more potential due to its physical buttons. Some ideas of software that would play well with the button combination of the Game Boy are:

  • Other emulators especially ones with moveable controls
    • Consoles that would play well with this are the NES, GameBoy Advance (although there’s the lack of shoulder buttons), Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Sega Genesis/SMS (many Gensis games only use 2 buttons) and many others.
  • Some retro-themed 2D platformers would also run well if their developers could be bothered to support such a button arrangement
  • J2ME games, with software like J2ME Loader, would work great as many older mobile titles can be played with two buttons and a d-pad. The screen window would also be welcome as most J2ME games were designed to look nice on 2-3″ screens not 6″ ones!


As things stand right now, the only thing you could do is wait and hope that Nintendo will release this for your specific smartphone model. Prices may be somewhat steep but they may be worth it in the long run as this case offers physical controls without the added bulk of carrying around a controller!

10 Responses

  1. Swiss Colonysays:

    My guess is that it isn’t for a smart phone as they come in too many shapes and sizes, but rather it’s a case for the Switch.

    • Jack Attacksays:

      It’s a case for smartphones. Namely, the iOS variety and maybe one specific line on Android.

    • r3tr0k3rsays:

      Just read section 0066. It’s a smartphone case.

  2. mehsays:

    Meh these cases won’t work/fit properly on your phone unless you buy Samsung or iphone, since manufactures seem to think thats the only phones that exist

    • Emiougussays:

      I haven’t done in proper research on it but from Nintendos point of view I would imagine that looking at Popularity statistics the Samsung and Apple brands are at the top of the list when it comes to Smartphones hence why they would only make it for that variety of phone. Making them for other phones would not only have the trouble of them picking which line of phones to produce it for and sales for that brand probably wouldn’t be as guaranteed as Samsung phones due to their being more available statistics.

  3. Frankysays:

    I hope this is an official emulator that lets you download games quick and easy. Nintendo doesn’t do enough to make their retro games easily available in my opinion. I mean you gotta buy the latest gaming console from them, make a new account that was bound to that console making that a pain if your original console went dead, then connect to their crappy servers which takes forever for the small N64 games for example despite a 10mbps connection being capable of downloading even the largest N64 games in like a minute, then you gotta hope they don’t stop supporting that console and your current one lasts forever.

    At least my Google account is easy to access and remembers what I purchase.

  4. Simon Lawrencesays:

    You seem very sure. I read the patent, didn’t see any mention specifically for smart phone. Sure, the source given here (Silcon Era) and others I’ve seen all think it’s for a smart phone, but this is just conjecture. No one knows (including me) for sure. Just strikes me this lends itself more to the Switch than to smart phones which come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

  5. narayansays:

    iOS don’t allow emulator, only Android does. Nintendo will probably ‘remaster’ old GB games for smartphone, which supports special GB case.

  6. Aurorasays:

    Great article! Thanks The Zett.

  7. Jeffsays:

    So this is the reason why Nintendo suddenly hunted ROM hosting sites. It’s highly likely that it’s for the switch. Phones differ in shape and sizes.

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