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For a while now, we’ve known that Nintendo intends to add Game Boy games to its Switch Online subscription service, which currently offers customers access to a range of titles from the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64 and SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis libraries. And now there’s further evidence that games from the hugely popular portable console series are headed to the modern hybrid device - albeit with an Advanced twist.
As highlighted by @trashbandatcoot on Twitter, what appears to be the Switch’s emulation software for running Game Boy Advance software - and Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, too - has leaked ahead of an official Online update from Nintendo. As Nintendo Life reports, the emulator codenamed ‘Sloop’ is set up to handle the GBA games, while another named ‘Hiyoko’ runs those monochrome delights and their colourful cousins.
So Nintendo's official Game Boy Advance emulator for the Nintendo Switch just leaked. Now it's just a matter of waiting for NSO to add GBA. pic.twitter.com/mEJcKrRtzL— Trash_Bandatcoot (@trashbandatcoot) April 18, 2022
Another Twitter user, @Mondo_Mega, posted a list of GBA games that are apparently being tested on the ‘Sloop’ emulator - and there sure are some bangers in the mix. Take a look and you’ll see entries from the Castlevania, Golden Sun, Mario sports and Metroid series, as well as The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap and even some Pokémon releases. Game Boy/Color testing (check the thread via the link above/below) hasn’t been so extensive though, with the leak revealing only four titles so far put through their Hiyoko paces: Super Mario Land, Tetris, Taito’s puzzler Qix and the classic RPG The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, the Game Boy version of which did get a re-release in 2021 on a dedicated Game & Watch unit.
The library of GBA games they've tested for this thing is massive. Tested is the key word; doesn't mean they'll all actually launch on the service. Yellow = in the rom folder at some point but not in the leaked build.— MondoMega (@Mondo_Mega) April 18, 2022
There's one other game with evidence of being tested though- https://t.co/QQDBDcdAZp pic.twitter.com/lGSB4Mg7Gt
Both Sloop and Hiyoko are the work of Nintendo’s Paris-based NERD department - that fantastic acronym standing for Nintendo European Research & Development. The same team, as Nintendo Life notes, worked on the emulation software inside Nintendo’s NES and SNES Classic mini-consoles and 2020’s Super Mario 3D All-Stars release, which featured Mario titles from the N64, GameCube and Wii.
Behind on your Game Boy history? Check our video below…
So, what now? Nintendo will absolutely hold a fresh Direct in the period that used to be filled - or at least kicked off - by E3. But perhaps there’ll be an announcement sooner than June or July, with this leak in the wild. Another question that needs answering is what the cost of adding Game Boy and GBA titles to Switch Online will be, for customers? The inclusion of N64 and Mega Drive saw subscription prices double, if you wanted those games and extra goodies - so could original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games be added to the regular SNES and NES tier of the service for no additional cost, and GBA to the higher-priced option alongside the older games, too?
That’s certainly how I can see it happening. What I can’t see is Nintendo adding a third pricing tier to Switch Online, to access all of these Game Boy titles, as that will surely lead to a very low pick-up of so many handheld gems. But only time will tell.
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