The gaming industry tends to be forward looking when it comes to technology. While older consoles hold a nostalgic place in our hearts, it’s hard not to be tempted by the allure of shiny new hardware. Beloved consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will become obsolete in a few years as developers and players fully transition to their next-generation counterparts. That is the life cycle of a video game platform.
On the other hand, indie developer Dana Puch isn’t too eager to let the past fade. Puch run Greenboy game, a one-man studio that exclusively develops Game Boy titles. We’re not talking games simply inspired by classic Nintendo handhelds – they’re released exclusively as working Game Boy cartridges. Greenboy only offers the game’s ROM to people who buy the physical game – that’s how serious Puch is.
With a new game called The Shapeshifter On the horizon, I talked to Puch about why he’s so dedicated to the Game Boy. It all comes down to a love of handheld devices and a desire to slow things down in a fast-paced world.
Puch started developing video games in 2012. He started out creating PC games and browser-based projects, before experimenting with mobile games. Dissatisfied with his work, he turned to a platform that had been a big part of his childhood: Nintendo’s original Game Boy, first released in 1989.
Puch told Digital Trends: “For many of us who were born in the 1980s, the launch of the Game Boy was something we had to go through a lot. “Since I was a kid, I have dreamed of developing a game for this console, but for various reasons I considered that impossible. The developer toolkits, especially GBDK, have made developing this console a lot easier, so I gave it a try and was very excited. “
That led Puch to start developing the Game Boy game in 2017. Puch’s first projects were micro-experiments more than anything. Legend of Leo, released in 2018, is a soccer game that requires the player to shoot the ball into the net or make saves as a goalkeeper. He followed that up with Submarine 9, a small title in which the player taps buttons to block incoming torpedoes.
While they weren’t the most complicated titles, they certainly had their part. They all have the familiar green and realistic pixel art inherent in the original Game Boy games. For some, the Game Boy’s rudimentary nature can be daunting, but Puch finds inspiration in the limitations of the handheld.
“I often compare it to a movement from the 60s called OULIPO – limited creativity,” says Puch. “You have to be creative with some predefined constraints. In the case of the Game Boy game, you need to get creative with the game being up to 32kB to 1MB in size, with a resolution of 160 × 144 pixels, with only 4 colors, with a limit of 40 objects per each. screen, limited to objects per line, you cannot use more than 256 tiles, etc.”
Puch accepts challenges and is always looking for ways to improve performance. His latest game, The Shapeshifter, is his most ambitious project to date. It’s a full adventure game where players can transform into different animals to solve environmental puzzles. The game was successfully crowdfunded via Kickstarter, hitting enough stretch goals to add levels to the game.
Puch already has three other games in development, including a sequel to The Shapeshifter, so he won’t be moving on any time soon. When asked if he’d consider switching to the NES, Puch made it clear that wasn’t his heart.
“That’s not what I’m most excited about. I will continue to develop the Game Boy,” Puch said.
The most notable thing about Greenboy Games is its commitment to the physical Game Boy experience. Greenboy games are sold as faithful reproductions of classic Game Boy games. They come packaged in a classic square box, replacing the Game Boy with a Greenboy, complete with a manual and operating cartridge. Like many in the classic homebrew scene, Puch employs publishers like Incub8 Games and Mega Cat Studios, which specialize in niche physical releases like this one.
A lot of effort goes into making a passion project very niche, but it has a deeper meaning to Puch beyond simple nostalgia.
“It’s a way of keeping the essence of the video game era up to date,” Puch said. “The spirit that I want to maintain is to preserve the cartridge game and the Game Boy as a console.”
Puch believes it’s important for gamers to remember the kind of physical experience that has brought us to where we are today. He sees it as a matter of time to slow down in an industry that always feels like it’s moving a mile a second. Sitting down with a piece of technology as “outdated” as the Game Boy is to enjoy a rare moment of calm where we can reflect on the game’s roots, rather than constantly looking to the next big thing. according to the.
“In the times we live in, things happen very quickly,” says Puch. “Things appear and disappear surprisingly quickly… Trends, fashion, games, etc. Retro machines still have a long way to go. They must teach younger generations the roots of video games – touch and feel the systems that have given life to everything we now know.”
“We went slow at the Greenboy Games. We don’t want to run fast, develop fast, scale fast. We prefer to slowly enjoy the journey.”