Did you know that there are still people making new games for the Game Boy in 2022?
Did you know that one of those people is me?!
Yes, there is a small community of developers hoping to create new classics for the beloved console, over 20 years after its launch.
I have been hard at work on my game, The Mayor of Sanctuary for a year and a half now!
And another new game developer, Ben Jelter, has recently launched his incredible project, The Machine, which looks to be a very exciting title for the Game Boy.
Through the support of Incube8 Games, The Machine is available as an actual physical game, and the premium package is looking pretty tasty as well!
So yes, you can unwrap a brand new Game Boy cartridge of your own, today.
The game looks incredibly beautiful, with a ton of variety in content, and even boasts over 25 endings!
But why try to explain The Machine, when we can let its creator do the talking…
We asked Ben Jelter himself to give us the low down on his latest game, The Machine:
Nobody can break down a game better than the developer themselves. So could you give us your best description of what to expect in The Machine?
The Machine follows a little guy named Girt who lives in a dystopian machine.
It follows his life from graduating from school up until his death.
The central concept behind The Machine is that the system in which you live is the primary antagonist.
While it is a dystopia, you can make friends and rebel against the system if you choose to.
I call it a pancake adventure because the story tree is short and wide.
It doesn’t take too long to beat the game but there are a huge number of paths through the game.
I hope everyone who plays it replays it a number of times so that they can experience the entire game.
What was the development process like for The Machine?
I first discovered GB Studio at the beginning of 2020.
I was incredibly excited to have a way to make Gameboy games and started on The Machine around that time.
I didn’t know if it would be possible to make a great game but I knew I had to try.
At first I was spinning my wheels quite a bit but I managed to start making good progress once I had developed a comprehensive story map for the entire game.
To get that done, I actually had to step away from the game and work on paper for a little while.
Some advice I have for other developers is to work primarily with placeholder art but develop one area of the game to have finished art.
For me the finished area helped me feel reassured that when I finish everything it will look good.
It’s very hard for me to work with placeholder art because I have a background in comics & illustration.
GB Studio went from version 1.0 to 3.0 while I was developing The Machine!
I migrated from 1.0 to 2.0 but I was much too far along to migrate to 3.0 when it came out.
Hopefully I’ll have a chance to release a game made with 3.0 someday.
How important was it for you to bring The Machine to the community in a physical release?
I remember talking to a good friend of mine early in development and telling him I wanted to make a Gameboy game.
I knew it was a niche market but I felt really motivated to do it.
Gameboy was such a huge part of growing up for me.
My friend said that he thought it’d be a worthwhile project if I was able to manufacture actual cartridges so I figured that was the bar I had to clear.
At first I planned to write the game to cheap flash carts but luckily I was able to partner with Incube8 games so the production quality is far higher than I ever imagined it could be.
Not only does it have a custom pcb but it has actual art laser cut onto it.
The physical edition feels like a work of art in its own right.
For the collector’s edition we have included a fold-out poster that has a cutaway view of The Machine that I am really proud of.
It also comes with stickers, pins, a CD with the soundtrack, and a numbered limited edition certificate of authenticity.
If my childhood self could know that he would one day make a Gameboy game on an actual cartridge, I’m sure his mind would explode.
Is there anything you would like people to know about Ben Jelter?
While I am pretty new to game development, I have a pretty solid background in large projects that has been making it easier for me.
You can find my sci-fi comic at Heliospherecomic.com.
I am a big fan of 1-bit art and the art on the PC-98.
Also I have more Gameboy projects in development that will likely be released in the next year!
I’m making a horror anthology and co-creating a puzzle game called Unearthed with my friend Gumpy Function. It’s based on a jam game that we did that won the GBcompo 21 game jam.
So as you can see (and read)… The Machine is a pretty exciting project coming from Ben and Incube8 Games.
Physical copies have already started arriving in the hands of presale buyers (myself included).
And the full digital version of the game is now available here as well: The Machine Digital Edition.
So if you have not already picked up your copy, now is the time people!
Join us in The Machine… and find out exactly what “The Machine” is.
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Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.