Revisiting the Pocket

Recently, I got myself a GameBoy Pocket!

GameBoy Pocket

Now I’m playing with power!

There were a couple of reasons. Since I made Cybersecurity Emergency Assange, I was reminded of how cool some of the old GameBoy games were. I have a GBA SP I can run GameBoy games on. But the pixel density of the SP screen is much higher so the screen ends up looking very small. Also, the GBA SP automatically colorizes GameBoy games (unless you press a special button combination on startup). I wanted to experience the old GameBoy feeling. I briefly toyed with the idea of getting a GameBoy Light but the price was prohibitive. I settled for the GameBoy Pocket with the clear case. I always wanted a transparent one and they were always sold out.

It arrived earlier this week and I was shocked: this this is SMALL! I had a blue GameBoy Pocket around my final years in high school. I thought I remembered it’s size. Having it in my hands again surprised me. Maybe it’s because I’m used to larger devices like the PSP or the DSi XL? It turns out that the GameBoy Pocket is just slightly larger than an iPhone! (It is a lot thicker, of course)

GameBoy Pocket vs iPhone

This changes everything!

The second shock was the display. It is horrible. The screen is incredibly dim and almost unreadable even in the best lighting conditions. But even worse, it has incredibly high lag so every movement is blurred. I wasn’t prepared for this. Back in the days, the display seemed fine. Have I been spoiled by the tremendous advancement of portable displays? Or is my GameBoy just in a bad condition? Do LCD displays fade with age?

GameBoy Pocket Screen

The blurry blob at the right is supposed to be Mario.

Overall, it’s a very intriguing blast from the past. The transparent case is very cool and trying the old games makes me want to play them again. I whipped out Pokémon again. Might try to finally catch all 151. I’m not too far from it. Also, I ordered a backlight upgrade kit. I may try my luck with some modding. It would look kickass on a transparent GameBoy. I even heard of a cool process called “biversion” which can improve contrast. To the soldering iron!

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

One response to “Revisiting the Pocket”

  1. alex creilson

    wondering where you ordered it from. i’m looking into getting one myself and i’m torn between green, pink or clear. yours looks like it’s in astonishing physical condition & aside from the resolution/screen problems, a really nice find. Hoping I can find a nice one that won’t set me back much more than 50$ including the cost of shipping and a reliable battery clip + possibly a backlight kit. thanks.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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