Go ahead, Xbox and Playstation. A new enemy has surfaced in the world of online multiplayer gaming! This is … uh, Game Boy. Since 1989 as that unbreakable, gray, 4.19 MHz tank.
While Game Boy has had a handful of local multiplayer games since the beginning, using it means physically connecting its Game Boy to another Game Boy through an accessory called Link Cable. If you want to play some Nintendo with someone more than a few feet away … well, you’ll just have to wait a few decades.
In a wildly impressive display of skills, hardware hacker StackSmashing has managed to reverse engineer the GameBoy’s link cable protocol and trick it to work effectively across the Internet. The Game Boy connects to a custom desktop client via a link cable connected to the Raspberry Pi, which in turn pings an online game server that acts as a bridge between you and your opponent. The Game Boy thinks it is talking to another ol ‘Game Boy, oblivious to the fact that it is actually communicating with a server that can be halfway around the world.
The first game they worked on? Tetris!
In order for a given game to work (imagine trading a Pokémon caught with someone on the Internet in 1998!) That game’s unique communication protocol would need to be reverse engineered, so it’s only Tetris for now is. Fortunately, StackSmashing has opened up the source code for all the various components that have been created so far, so there is some foundation to build. And because the whole thing is not fun without playing with anyone, there is also a Discord channel to find others going down this rabbit hole. There is also a custom PCB in the works ($ 15, expected to ship by June) that will handle the connection between the link cable and the Raspberry Pi, removing the need for you to cut a link cable to expose its wires. Will go. And do this work.
StackSmashing recently made headlines by opening and modifying Apple’s airtags, as well as turning Game Boy into a (hilarious) Bitcoin Minor.