The Game Boy Camera is remembered as a bulbous sphere that sat atop an absolute chonk of a portable gaming machine — but yours doesn’t need to be so huge! Remember the gorgeous Game Boy Mini Camera we introduced you to this summer? Christopher Graves is now ready to help you build your own.
Starting today, you can buy the files, boards, and find instructions at the eight-bit photographer’s website. Expect to spend around $110, assuming you’ve already got a donor Game Boy Camera ($40–$50 used) and a 3D printer so you can print the shell yourself. Even the colorful Game Boy Mini Camera label design is included, though it might be a bit longer before you can order a preprinted label.
Warning: this is not an easy mod. Shrinking down a Game Boy Camera involves painstakingly harvesting a resin-encased sensor from the original Nintendo cartridge, not to mention other donor parts. Graves warns that it requires “advanced soldering skills and tools,” adding, “I am not responsible for any harm done to you, your property, or family. Because of the complication required for this mod, personal support will be limited.”
I’ll add: please, please don’t destroy an original Game Boy Camera if you don’t know what you’re doing! Maybe try an easier project first.
But if you’ve got the skills, the result could be glorious. Graves sent us one of the modded cartridges, and it’s every bit as pleasing in person as it was in photos. Especially when I stuck it into an Analogue Pocket, whose big, bright screen makes a camera way easier to use than my wife’s original gray DMG model.
My favorite bit of the design is a two-way switch on the side that lets you swap between A) the original Game Boy Camera experience and B) a custom ROM that instantly loads the viewfinder so you can start snapping photos fast.
I understand the switch is thanks to another modder, Martin “HDR” Refseth, who designed his own flashcart for the original Game Boy Camera, which Graves reverse engineered to shrink everything down.
The Game Boy Camera certainly doesn’t work for every kind of picture I’d like to take, but there’s magic when you get it right — turning an iconic frame into a play of pixels, shadow, and light.