If you’ve been reading our Retro Dodo articles for some time now, then you’ll be no stranger to the modded gameboy.
The handheld consoles that we know and love are continuously evolving, and the retro gaming community grows a little larger every minute.
Thanks to the brilliant minds of our readers and the people out there who keep the idea of ‘the golden age of gaming’ alive, we’re seeing new and exciting ways of keeping both old games and dated tech current and exciting.
There are so many ways to play some of the best Gameboy Games of yesteryear on new and updated devices these days. We can even log onto our laptops and load up some of the best MAME games alongside your chosen best Nintendo Switch emulator.
The possibilities are endless, and the modded Gameboy provides both old-school gamers like myself and newbies to the world of 90s handheld gaming a chance to play their favourite titles on a classic console.
If you’ve got this far and are wondering what the heck a modded Gameboy is, then don’t worry.
I’m going to explain all about what a modded Gameboy is, how they work, why they’re good, and how to kick your handheld into touch with a simple mod.
You’ll never have to play with a wormlight ever again!
By the time we’re finished, you’ll be able to amaze/bore your friends with your new nerdy knowledge!
Getting To Grips With The Modded Gameboy
What Is A Modded Gameboy?
If you’re on this site and reading this article, then you should have played on an old Gameboy DMG, Color, or Advance console before.
While they’re incredible handhelds and undoubtedly helped to shape the future of portable gaming, they all had one characteristic that makes them feel incredibly dated…
…they have a front-lit screen!
This might not seem like a big deal in a world where you can log onto Ali Express and buy a cheap handheld like the ZPG Pro, but back in the day, we had to have a table lamp or torch nearby for gaming after dark.
And gaming in a car on the way home from your granny’s house was out of the question unless you could see in the dark.
Now, there are multiple ways make a modded Gameboy so you can play Pokemon Blue or Kirby’s Tilt ‘n’ Tumble with a bright, back-lit screen at any time of day or night.
What Features Does A Modded Gameboy Have?
Some of the modded DMG Gameboys like the Piboy DMG are built using a Raspberry Pi computer inside. This is taking modding to the next level and giving your Gameboy the ability to play old Sega, PS1, and some of the best SNES games ever made.
This kind of set-up requires a lot of soldering and messing around with fiddly components, and I certainly don’t have the patience or the know-how to start doing stuff like that!
We prefer playing the games our handhelds were meant for in the first place, which is why making or buying a modded Gameboy that can play your existing carts is preferable in our book.
That way, you can keep your old save files, not have to worry about poor emulation, and still enjoy the age old technique of blowing the dust out of your carts.
The best bit about a modded gameboy is having the option of different types of screen, lens cover, and surround.
Using an IPS LCD screen gives your favourite games a whole new lease of life, lighting up the best Gameboy Color games in rich, vibrant hues that make playing titles like Links Awakening and Oracle of Seasons a real joy once again.
With 3D printing and other plastic-moulding apparatus readily available for people to buy, we’re seeing lots of interesting design concepts available for modded Gameboy consoles.
Customers can choose their favourite prints or patterns as a theme for their modded handheld, or they can opt for different colours and clear shells.
You can even give your old GBA a premium feel by using a metal casing for the ultimate cool/protective look.
Handhelds are becoming as much of a fashion accessory as trainers, jackets, and bags.
You can even make one to match your new pair of Super Mario Shoes!
The modifications don’t stop at just the casing, however.
Once you’ve decided between a Pikachu or Metroid themed casing, installed your backlit screen, and picked the perfect lens cover, then you can begin customising your buttons too.
Fancy a blue start button instead of a crimson one? Maybe you’d like an all-black system that looks super-sleek when you pull it out of your pocket?
The possibilities are endless!
It’s worth getting or making a modded Gameboy just so you don’t have to use as many AA batteries anymore!
Sure, you can use rechargeable batteries, but in a world where everyone owns around 1,000 Micro USB and USB-C cables, it makes sense to be able to charge up your modded Gameboy at the same time as the rest of your tech.
Removing the need for single-use batteries and adding in a lithium-ion chargeable system will give you tones more play time.
It makes your Gameboy more eco-friendly too!
Where Can I Get A Modded Gameboy?
The Home-modded Approach
If you don’t want to start messing around with a soldering iron but still want a modded Gameboy with a backlit screen, then there are a few adjustments that you can make yourself.
Take a look at the featured video in this article and watch Brandon successfully modding his old Gameboy with a funky-fresh backlit screen and no soldering required.
If ‘big-thumbs-Brandon’ can do it, then there’s no reason why you, our brainy reader, can’t give it a go.
You can also go one step further and pimp your console with some of the best gameboy mods that you can buy on the internet, adding new casings and simple-to-install features while your device is on the ‘operating table’.
The Custom-modded Purchase
If you don’t want to risk messing around with your current handheld or buying one to splice open, then we recommend that you go to the experts.
We’re huge fans of Retro Modding, a website that allows you to customise your very own modded Gameboy choosing everything from the casing through to the button colour.
They’ll install a rechargeable battery and charging port for you, as well as a back-lit screen and lots of other upgrades such as better speakers and brightness controls.
The best part is that they have a ‘live’ example of your modded Gameboy that shows all of the alterations and specifications that you choose as you add them to your basket, so you get a real-time view of what your finished console will end up looking like.
While new consoles like the Analogue Pocket and the much-talked-about Gameboy Mini are exciting and great to play, there’s nothing like upgrading your existing handhelds and giving them features that just weren’t available back in the day.
Without companies like Retro Modding, consoles like the DMG and the GBC would get forgotten and left by the wayside, gathering dust as the Nintendo Switch 2 takes pride of place by TVs across the globe.
Not only do they keep the handheld gaming scene alive, but they keep that excitement that we had of opening up a Yellow DMG with Super Mario World for the very first time from disappearing too.
That’s worth a couple of hundred dollars any day of the week!
Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.