A Nintendo patent for a Game Boy style phone case was found by Siliconera. The case has physical buttons and is designed to look like an original Nintendo Game Boy system. Nintendo filed the patent in March 2018.
The case has buttons mapped to those of a Game Boy. The buttons will be sensed by the touchscreen beneath them, meaning that games need to be developed with those controls in mind.
Part of the phone case has a hole where the Game Boy’s screen would be. The patent describes how games will be viewed through this opening while the case is closed. This would enable a Game Boy-esque system to be built on smart phones. The flip-open case is similar to many others available for smart phones today — with the major difference being the buttons and screen opening.
The phone’s top and bottom are left unobstructed by the case. There is also a cutout for the front-facing camera. The decision to keep these parts of a user’s phone available could be because Nintendo is intending this to be more than a novelty.
Nintendo’s foray into smartphone apps has been with new games, not simply porting titles. Dragalia Lost and Fire Emblem Heroes were built to take specific advantage of smart phones.
Nintendo has released two miniature classic consoles in 2016 and 2017. The Nintendo NES Classic was announced and released in 2016, followed by the Super Nintendo Classic in 2017. Fans have been clamoring for a Nintendo Game Boy Classic since the first Nintendo Classic was announced.
This could be Nintendo’s approach to the Game Boy Classic. Nintendo could be moving towards smart phone emulation for these titles. The company could release this phone case alongside a wave of titles. The patent implies a decision for Nintendo to bring Game Boy titles to smart devices as part of a unified package or brand or at least add some sort of official controller support to smartphones.