Nintendo has planned a Game Boy Color add-on with email, web browsing and live TV
Nintendo had planned to release a Game Boy Color peripheral, which would have brought web browsing, messaging, and email to the forebear of the Switch handheld console.
A canceled attachment called Page Boy would have used radio wave technology used by pagers, rather than Wi-Fi, to allow portable gamers to take advantage of online connectivity, including the ability to email selfies taken with the Game Boy color camera.
There was also a concept for an “Ask Mario” search engine that would have included Mario whistling his own theme while results were loaded from the web. Nintendo’s official magazine, Nintendo Power, could also have been made available to Page Boy owners.
Nintendo’s live TV stream was also featured for the device, which was essentially the 1999 version of a Nintendo Direct stream that we enjoy today. Among the ideas for the device was the ability for Page Boy owners to unlock exclusive levels in games, much like today’s DLC.
The fascinating revelation comes from the Did you knowGames YouTube, in a new episode hosted by gaming historian Liam Robertson. In the video below, Liam recounts that in 1999, Nintendo of America was approached by a former executive following the misconception of a pair of intrepid British inventors.
The Page Boy wasn’t the only such device Nintendo considered in the past. He previously canceled a keyboard peripheral for the original Game Boy called Work Boy, which had a calculator, contact book, world map, and translator. It is also an important page in this history.
Work Boy inventor Eddie Gill invented the Page Boy, described in the video as a spiritual continuation of the canceled device. He worked with his brother Christopher to bring Nintendo into an official partnership. That’s where ex-Nintendo exec Frank Ballouz, who had worked with Eddie on the Work Boy, came in.
While Nintendo initially embraced the idea and greenlit the Page Boy as a first-party add-on, Nintendo lingered and by 2002 the device was not much closer to a mainstream launch. Data connectivity outside of the United States would have been difficult and therefore would not have held up as the international product that Nintendo had ultimately envisioned, thus the Page Boy is dead.