Game Boy Camera
A red Game Boy Camera. Various other colors were also available.
|Generation||Fourth generation era|
The Game Boy Camera, released as Pocket Camera (ポケットカメラ?) in Japan, is an official Nintendo accessory for the handheld Game Boy gaming console and was released on September 17, 1998 in Japan, which ceased manufacture in late 2002. It is compatible with all of the Game Boy platforms (with the exception of Game Boy Micro). The camera can take 256×224 (down scaled to half resolution on the unit with anti-aliasing), black & white digital images using the 4-color palette of the Game Boy system. It interfaced with the Game Boy Printer, which utilized thermal paper to print any saved images, making a hardcopy. Both the camera and the printer were marketed by Nintendo as light-hearted entertainment devices aimed mainly at children in all three major video game regions of the world: Japan, North America, and Europe. N64 Magazine (which has since been superseded by NGamer) dedicated a monthly section to the device.
The Game Boy Camera comes in five different standard colors: blue, green, red, yellow and clear purple (Japan only). There was also a limited edition gold The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time edition, which contains different stamps from the standard versions and was available only in the United States through a mail order offer from Nintendo Power.
The device's software has numerous references to other Nintendo products. Also, there are a few differences between the North American and Japanese versions, including the unlockable B album pictures and the stamps that can be placed on pictures.
The Game Boy Camera was featured in the 1999 edition of Guinness World Records for being the world's smallest digital camera, though this record has since been broken. Nintendo reportedly had plans to release a successor to the Game Boy Camera for the Game Boy Advance called the GameEye which would take color photos and feature connectivity with the Nintendo GameCube through a game titled Stage Debut, but neither the GameEye nor Stage Debut ever saw release.
There are three main options available on the menu screen: Shoot, View, and Play.
Users can make photo albums, slideshows, and custom animations of photos. Hot-Spot allows users to link pictures together by clicking on certain spots of the picture. This can be used in a number of creative ways. For example, it could be used for creating a game where a player can go from one photo of a room in a house to another by pressing certain spots on the photos. The location of the hot-spots are customizable by accessing the Special menu via the Select options and choosing "Hot-Spot". In this mode, up to five one-eyed blobs can be placed on each picture, which become invisible hot-spots during "Hot-Spot" mode. Each blob can be programmed to send the player to a different photo and include a visual transition and a sound effect. Then, in Hot-Spot mode, when the player presses one of the hot-spots, he or she will be sent to a photo of another room, where additional hot-spots will send the player to additional photos, and move him or her throughout the virtual house.
The Japanese version of the device is optionally integrated into the Mario Artist suite of multimedia games for the 64DD peripheral. Users can create drawn and 3D-animated avatars of themselves based on photographs taken with the camera.
Play is a built-in Space Fever II minigame, which is the sequel to the Space Fever arcade game created by Nintendo. At the beginning of the game, two spaceships appear, one marked with a "B" and one with a "D". Shooting the "B" ship will send players to the Ball minigame. Shooting the "D" ship will send players to DJ mode, an open-ended music video game. By avoiding both of the ships, the player will begin playing Space Fever II. After scoring 2,000 points in Space Fever II, a new minigame called Run! Run! Run! will be unlocked. Once unlocked, a new ship marked with a "?" will appear alongside the "B" and "D" ships at the beginning of each new game of Space Fever II. Access Run! Run! Run! by shooting the "?" ship.
- Ball is a juggling game, in which the player moves his or her hand around to catch and throw balls. It is very similar to the Game & Watch game of the same name, only with Mr. Game & Watch's head replaced with the "Game Face". Interestingly, the background music to this game is "Mayim Mayim," an Israeli folk song.
- DJ is a music sequencer known as Trippy-H where players can mix and create their own simple chiptunes. The "Game Face" is the DJ.
- Space Fever II is an homage/sequel to an early Nintendo arcade game. In this minigame, the player controls a spaceship which fires missiles at other ships throughout three unique levels, followed by a boss at the end of each level. The first boss is a giant face of a man with horns, the second boss is a giant face of a mustachioed man, and the third boss is the "Game Face". Once all three of the bosses are beaten, the cycle will start over again, only harder.
- Run! Run! Run! is the bonus minigame, which is obtained by reaching a score of 2,000 or more in Space Fever II. The "Game Face" is attached to a cartoon body, and the player races against a mole and a bird for the finish line.
The Game Boy Camera's software came with a few Easter eggs.
- If the "Run" button was pressed while the user was on one of menu screens, the game would sometimes freeze, and a disturbing image of a "vandalized" face would appear with the text "Who are you running from?" often startling the user with the image. And mainly during the game whenever it errors another vandalized image will appear with a disconcerting dooming 8 bit tone usually startling the viewers. Very rarely, it would appear along with another picture saying "Don't be so silly!". The U.S. version of the game had three such faces, that would appear during different times, such as after system errors. The Japanese version had two faces different from the American version, including a young girl who is the daughter of one of the developers, with one face being the same between versions. The Japanese version read "How weak!" and "Let me be alone!"  Usually, however, a different screen that has a picture of Africa and says, "You are now crossing the equator - Jambo Nintendo!" pops up.
- If, during the credits, the user pressed the "B" button, a dancing man would appear on the screen.
- In addition, the music from the main menu screen bears a striking resemblance to the hit reggae song "Pass the Dutchie" by the group Musical Youth.
- On the title screen, pressing the up button on the D-pad will make Mario dance faster, and pressing the down button on the D-pad will make him dance slower.
- While taking a picture, if any button on the D-pad is pressed rapidly, the color palette would flip, causing white to become black, and vice versa on the monochrome (4 color) screen. This is combined with the sound effect of a car honking.
Initially, the Game Boy Camera was not well received at Nintendo. However, Kuwahara approached Creatures, Inc. President Hirokazu Tanaka regarding the development of the software for the device, which solidified the project. The camera's built-in software was co-developed by Nintendo Research & Development 1 and the Japanese company Jupiter, with Tanaka directing the project.
There are many differences from the Japanese version.
- The first Space Fever II boss is a drawn picture
- Mario dances differently
- Frames 2 and 7 are different
- Most of the stamps are different
- No Mario stamps
- More Pokémon stamps
- Animation page shows an anime girl
- Wild frames 2, 5, and 6 are Pokémon frames
- The edit page shows a bird house, a doll, a face, and the word "Happy?"
- Album B photos are different
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Prominent third-party video game hardware manufacturer Mad Catz Interactive created a link cable for the Game Boy Camera that allowed it to be connected to a computer's parallel port for the transfer of photos in bitmap image format. This utilized the camera's "print" functionality, which was normally used to print photos to a Game Boy Printer.
InterAct manufactured the "Mega Memory Card", a Game Boy accessory that is compatible with the Game Boy Camera. This device can store multiple Game Boy game save files and allows the user to swap them out, greatly increasing the number of photos that could be taken with a Game Boy Camera.
In 2015, GameBoyPhoto created the BitBoy, a straight-to-SD-card transfer device designed to work with Game Boy Camera. BitBoy enables for single image transfer as well as batch-image transfer of up to 30 images at a time, by taking advantage of the printer-transfer signal via the Game Boy Link Cable port. Since the Game Boy Camera produces 4-bit Bitmap image files (approximately 24 kilobytes in size), BitBoy is the first device that extracts these Bitmap files directly, in a lossless process, so that users can save and print images en masse.
In popular media
The Game Boy Camera was used to take the photographs for the album cover of Neil Young's Silver & Gold. The Game Boy Camera was featured prominently in the Hong Kong zombie film Bio Zombie. In Banjo-Tooie, Chris P. Bacon uses a Game Boy Camera to take pictures.
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