When will game console manufacturers wake up and realize that, like many smartphone manufacturers, they should have left well enough alone. The more they try to improve on great and popular they devolve into mediocre and irritating, pissing off the very customers they are trying to sell to. There’s nothing like progress to anger the mobs.
First, a look at the upcoming non-Nintendo Game Boy Classic Edition.
Hyperkin, a peripherals manufacturer, is way ahead of the curve as it already has begun development of the portable classic Game Boy. The current name is the Ultra Game Boy, but that will change once it heads out to market. It has an aluminum housing, a backlit LCD display, a projected 6 hour battery life, USB-C port, stereo speakers, and audio connections on both the left and right sides. In essence, it is a redesigned version that keeps all the best features of the old Game Boy while upgrading it with modern technology for a better user experience.
And that is what Hyperkin has realized, that there are some things that should be left alone because the customer experience is what game playing is all about. The original volume and contrast dials remain, but there will be a third dial so you can adjust the console’s backlit LCD display to give you a higher contrast visual experience. You can turn off the backlight to send you back to the daze of fuzzy displays. It may not occur to the brain trusts at the modern game manufacturers but new is not always better — or preferred.
If all this sounds great, Hyperkin is still in 21st century mode and thus must do something to annoy the masses and cool down the potential flames generated by lovers of retro games and Game Boy consoles. OK, here it is:
No new gaming cartridges and no built in games.
That sucks in a number of different levels, the most obvious ones being 1) that people will be scrambling around to find their old cartridges (which will work in the new console) and 2) the prices for the old cartridges on eBay and other auction sites just hit new highs. It’s almost like those old baseball cards your grandfather should have kept and passed down to you. Thanks a lot.
One piece of good news is that the projected price is under $100 (which means $99.99). If Hyperkin is smart and does it right the first time they will have a huge sales lead over Nintendo.
As for the lessons game manufacturers should learn, the most obvious one concerning the Game Boy is it is a portable (read: mobile) device. Like smartphones and tablets, and the whole thing where Millennials love their mobility freedom. Maybe you, game manufacturers, could get some positive endorsements from the Center of Disease Control because teenagers would get up from being tethered to their indoor gaming systems to see that life does exist outside of their virtual worlds. It might even be possible for teens to talk to one another as they haggle over the price of a Game Boy cartridge in person or cut a deal to share the limited number of Game Boy cartridges.
Look, the basic way a car functions has stayed the same for a long time. Car manufacturers have added features to make the driving experience better, but people like the experience. There is no small number of drivers who loathe the possibility of a car that drives itself because it kills the driving experience. You have degraded the gaming experience enough already, especially for lovers of the classic games. The Ultra Game Boy cannot come soon enough, and we will put our new technology aside and return to the days of yore when gaming was all about the experience, not the technology.