Nintendo Has Been Granted A Patent For Game Boy Emulation... Again?

Nintendo is, arguably, sitting on a goldmine of older games for platforms like the Game Boy. The problem is getting those games onto modern devices. In addition to companies such as Apple being less than keen about emulators running on their hardware, Nintendo has been reluctant to go down this path anyway. That mindset may be changing however.

Spotted by "Rösti", a forum user over at NeoGAF, Nintendo was recently granted a patent by the USPTO entitled "HAND-HELD VIDEO GAME PLATFORM EMULATION".

Neither the title, nor the summary, leave much to the imagination:

A software emulator for emulating a handheld video game platform such as GAME BOY.RTM., GAME BOY COLOR.RTM. and/or GAME BOY ADVANCE.RTM. on a low-capability target platform (e.g., a seat-back display for airline or train use, a personal digital assistant, a cell phone) uses a number of features and optimizations to provide high quality graphics and sound that nearly duplicates the game playing experience on the native platform.

The patent itself was filed in June of this year, though it has some history before then... quite a bit, actually. The patent, in a different form, popped up in 2012, with an original filing date of 2003. In any case, Nintendo hasn't done much with it.

So, you can understand why getting excited about the possibility of official Game Boy emulators appearing in every device ever might be premature. That said, it seems like a financial no-brainer for the company, if it can figure out the best way to go about it.



    Isn't this just something they do to combat the release of emulators? It would be an absolute legal nightmare if they released something that could play ROMs of games created by other people. Beyond that their attitudes towards Virtual Console releases seem to indicate that they have no interest in making anything that operates like your standard emulator (manually loading files that have been downloaded to the device).
    I think the best we could hope for is a phone app that lets you buy a limited range of games like the Virtual Console on the Wii/Wii U/3DS. Not the worse thing in the world, but a big letdown since Nintendo are super slow about releasing games for it and don't offer any sort of cross-platform purchasing options.

      It can't combat the use of emulators, because an emulator by itself isn't illegal.

      The only illegal part of using an emulator is if you use an illegally-downloaded ROM, which doesn't make the emulator illegal - the emulator is designed to play ROMs, sure, but that includes Homebrew, which is legal.
      An emultor is illegal, though, if it includes a BIOS.

      Nintendo can't sue an emulator company. If they took the makers of VBA, for example, to court just because Nintendo has this patent, VBA would win without a doubt.

      All this patent means is that no-one can create an emulator in the style Nintendo has laid out.

        Prior art should be a problem for Nintendo here. GB emulators have been around for a while.

        That's what I mean. They can't fight emulation directly so they make moves like this to protect themselves where they can in a general attempt to make life difficult for people building and distributing emulators.

    I remember there being something about there being Nintendo games available for play on Singapore airlines or something, way back in the day. Always used to be super jealous that we didn't get that on our flights.

      I got that once. There were a bunch of NES and Gameboy games like SMB and Pokémon Yellow (of which I remember). Except we were forced to blaspheme and use what I think were Xbox 360 controllers.

      Singapore Airlines had SNES games, I fondly remember playing Zelda: Link to the Past and Super Mario World!

    I doubt this patent is going to lead to gameboy games on non Nintendo devices I think Nintendo will stick to their consoles til the day they die.
    Putting games on non Nintendo devices would ruin their handheld sales and in turn ruin the sales of newly released games.

      I agree. But what if Nintendo was to release their own phone or something?

        That is interesting. While I don't think Nintendo will do this, it wouldn't surprise me If the next PSP or Microsoft handheld device is actually a Smart Phone gaming device.

        Last edited 30/11/14 11:02 pm

    I think Nintendo is planning to release their own emulator on ios and android and start charging people for games they can purchase in the emulator as in app purchase.

      Ahh And throw some drm into the roms

        and region locking too just the way they like it. Idk sounds like a possibility but nintendo still refuse to release their game to third party as that will destroy them completely.

          The not releasing to 3rd parties does keep good quality control though.
          But why would Nintendo need to emulate their own material? Recode repackage sell as retro game for xx system.

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