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May 2017 Retro Gaming Article


May 17, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Hyperkin's SmartBoy is Samsung-licensed and plays both Game Boy & GBC carts via USB-C

Hyperkin SmartBoy
What started as an April Fool's prank now has backing from Samsung and will appear in the U.S. later this year.
One of the better April Fool's pranks was a device that docks with your smartphone to use it's screen as a display for playing Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. It looked legit and the idea was brilliant. The main problem was the date - April 1st. We all know you can't believe anything occurring on this day.

Fast forward a couple years and the product is real and licensed by Samsung. Time does appear to change... everything. With a $50 MSRP, Hyperkin's SmartBoy may be fairly limited in terms of smartphone compatibility. With Samsung on-board, one can only imagine they want their phones to be the flagship hardware of the SmartBoy. While the majority of us still have phones with micro-ISB ports, SmartBoy requires USB-C.

Hyperkin SmartBoy packaging USB-C is a connection found on Samsung's Galaxy 8 and a variety of other manufacturers. Since the phone slips into this device, the physical form factor plays a crucial role in compatibility. Google's Pixel uses USB-C, but does it fit and align correctly with SmartBoy? My guess is that this device has moved forward with "assistance" from Samsung, which may translate into some proprietary facets.

Despite my feeling that this is "for Samsung Galaxy S8", it may also serve as a trial to see how it performs. I'm sure it would be possible to redesign the device to accomodate a wider variety of USB-C equipped phones.

It's interesting that Samsung agreed to licensing. The SmartBoy requires GB or GBC game carts, which caters to a niche market at best. If it works with an emulator and ROMs, that would be splendid, but from Samsung's perspective that opens up a vast gray-area that few corporations want to launch into. As a retro gamer, I love the idea, but I'm not seeing the benefits for a behemoth like Samsung.

I recently upgraded to a Samsung S7 and have no desire to upgrade any time soon. However, I really like the idea/novelty of the SmartBoy. If it becomes available to more manufacturers phones and drops a bit more in price, I'd get one!

From Hyperkin's press release:
Hyperkin, a video game hardware development company from Los Angeles, has announced it will be releasing the SmartBoy through the Samsung Mobile Accessory Partnership Program (SMAPP) to the U.S. and Korean market. Originally a development kit in late 2016, the SmartBoy attaches to Android smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S8, turning your smartphone into a handheld gaming device. Hyperkin is aiming for a Q2 or Q3 release with an MSRP of $49.99.

The SmartBoy is compatible with actual NTSC/PAL Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges, while sporting a classic-style tactile button set, making the SmartBoy look and feel like a real handheld gaming console. The SmartBoy is compatible with other apps and games, including Game Boy Advance apps from Google Play; configuration for such apps may vary. Out of the box, the SmartBoy was designed for current-gen Samsung devices with USB Type-C ports, like the Samsung Galaxy S8 - other Android device compatibility may vary. Hyperkin Product Developer, Chris Gallizzi, was ecstatic to learn his team's baby is now a retail-ready device officially licensed by Samsung.

"The SmartBoy has been about two years in the making - three if you count the months we were kicking around the idea," Gallizzi said. "From an April Fool's Joke, to a successful dev kit, and now an officially licensed device, that little guy has come a long way!"

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