Today, the lifespan of a video game platform is shorter than ever. Developers are focused on innovation, rather than revival. Still, many gamers feel nostalgic about the old consoles. Thanks to indie developers like Dana Puch, they can play new games on their Game Boy handhelds.
Puch is the face and the only developer of Greenboy Games, a studio focused on the console. Instead of content merely inspired by it, it releases new working cartridges! You need to purchase the physical games to get the ROMs — Puch is serious. But how and why did he find this niche?
Puch got into video game development almost a decade ago — in 2012. First, he worked on PC games and products for browsers. Subsequently, the enthusiast switched to mobile gaming. Still, he felt that something was missing. Eventually, Puch turned to a gadget he loved so much as a kid — the original Game Boy, which was released by Nintendo in 1989.
Game Boy revolutionized the industry. Finally, players had a portable device packed with exciting games. Today, this technology may seem obsolete, but not for retro gamers. Entire websites are dedicated to Gameboy ROMs and console legacy in general. Classic hits can be accessed from modern systems, but that’s not all. Thanks to developers like Puch, you can play new games on the original hardware.
In his interview for Digital Trends, Puch noted that the console made a strong impression on gamers born in the 1980s. For many years, he dreamed of creating his own game for the handheld. However, this seemed impossible until he discovered dev kits, particularly the GBDK.
In 2017, Puch started working on his own games for the Game Boy. The first projects were small-scale experiments. A year later, he released a soccer game called Leo Legend. Players need to score a goal or make saves. The next title — Submarine 9 — allows you to block torpedoes by tapping buttons.
The games are hardly sophisticated, but they have all the iconic features of classic art. Even the original green hue has been retained. This revival of Game Boy in all its rudimentary glory is inspiring to Puch, who is not deterred by the system’s limitations.
He compares it to OULIPO — a French literary movement from the 1960s devoted to creativity with constrained techniques. The idea was to create something new despite predetermined limitations. In Puch’s case, these limitations are stringent. He has to fit his creations on a small screen with modest resolution (160×144 pixels), keeping to the size range of 32kB-1MB, with just four colors available.
This is a challenge. Not only has Puch embraced it, but he is also raising the bar all the time, and the latest game proves it. The Shapeshifter transforms players into animals to help them solve puzzles. It is a fully-fledged adventure and the most ambitious project of the one-man studio to date. Funding came from Kickstarter.
Three other games are also being developed. Puch has no intention to switch to the NES, as it does not inspire him. He is still committed to development for the original Game Boy.
It is the dedication to physical experience that makes Greenboy Games unique. Its content looks like physical reproductions of the cult classics. The cartridges come in a square box with the Gameboy logo, a manual, and a working cartridge. Just like in the good old days
Like other developers in the niche, Puch uses the publishing services of companies like Mega Cat Studios and Incube8 Games. His work requires a lot of effort and passion. This is more than simple nostalgia. Puch views it as a way to maintain “the essence of what the video game era has been to date”. He wants to preserve the spirit of cartridge gaming in general, and the Game Boy console in particular. Although, there are also many new releases for modern consoles like ps5 and xbox that are very true to the original traditions.
The developer thinks gamers should not forget the physical experiences. His work gives them a much-needed chance to slow down. This industry is changing at breakneck speed. If you can take a handheld console and reflect on the gaming legacy, this is an opportunity to enjoy a moment of stillness. Gamers do not have to be constantly anticipating the next big thing.
In our modern tech-driven world, games, trends, and goods are emerging and vanishing all the time. Sometimes, you may feel like taking a break. Retro devices are not only useful for older gamers — they can also teach young generations. They can explore the roots of video gaming — the physical consoles that “gave life to everything that we currently know.”
Greenboy Games has its own philosophy. It prefers process to growth. Instead of constantly running and expanding, Puch enjoys the journey. He loves what he does, which inspires him to go further.