The Nintendo Game Boy has always been the king of handheld video game consoles. Some competitors, like the Sega Game Gear and Sony PSP, managed to secure their own dedicated fan bases, but Nintendo’s models have always been the most popular handhelds on the market. When you combine the Game Boy and Game Boy Color models, nearly 120 million units were sold — making it the third best-selling console of all time. But you may have noticed that the Game Boy was made by Nintendo and not Apple, which is what makes Otto Climan’s Apple Game Boy Color so special — that and its ability to control Apple TVs.
Just looking at this beautiful white Apple Game Boy Color should give most design nerds a downstairs tingle. The form is undeniably Nintendo, as the case dimensions have not been altered in any way. But that white color and the very subtle gray “grill” graphic perfectly encapsulate the industrial design of the original Apple Macintosh. The retro Apple logo completes the look. This amazing case was created by Retro Modding, which is a company that sells all kinds of great products you can use to upgrade your classic consoles. That includes brand-new replacement cases, which are UV printed with a variety of designs. This particular case was created specifically for Climan to use in this project. They also provided the other hardware, including the matching flash cartridge.
For the most part, this is just a standard Game Boy Color internally. The only major modification was a replacement IPS LCD that provides a crisper picture and a backlight, which the Game Boy Color notoriously lacked. Cosmetics aside, the real magic happens thanks to the flash cartridge. That lets users load ROMs (official or otherwise) onto an SD card so they can be run on the console. That is how Climan is able to control his Apple TV. He developed a custom ROM that outputs remote signals through the Game Boy Color’s built-in infrared transmitter, which was originally intended for sharing game data between consoles.
To achieve the correct modulation frequency, Climan had to overlock the GBC’s custom Intel 8080/Zilog Z80 processor. Fortunately, that is a function that Nintendo officially supported and that was sometimes used in games for short periods of time. Climan simply had to assign infrared codes to be sent when buttons are pressed and he had a way to mirror the Apple TV remote! He then added a minimalist Apple logo to show up on screen when the ROM was launched. This seems to work just as well as the actual Apple TV remote, but is so much cooler that we can hardly stand it.