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Nintendo patented a playable Game Boy phone case

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There are so many Game Boy phone cases out there, but you can actually play with this one

Photo of an original Game Boy James Bareham/Polygon

Back in March 2017, Nintendo filed a patent that hinted at the Game Boy receiving the NES and SNES Classic Edition treatment. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has finally published the application for what looks exactly like a Game Boy phone case — but with fully operational buttons.

Nintendo’s patent filing “describes a cover that is removably attachable to electronic equipment having a touch screen.” In layman’s terms, it’s a phone case. Most interesting is that this Game Boy-esque design doesn’t just wrap around a smartphone to protect it from inevitable drops. Nintendo’s patent suggests a design that covers the front of a phone.

The case would basically turn your phone into an actual Game Boy of sorts. Pressing a button on the cover results in contact with a touch panel beneath it, which is then translated into an action on the screen. Not included in the patent is what sorts of apps or games this cover is meant to be used with, leaving its functionality up to speculation. Nintendo never uses the words “Game Boy,” or even “game,” in the application.

Nintendo patent illustration of a Game Boy case for smartphones Nintendo/United States Patent and Trademark Office

Third-party cases already do a similar thing, but they lack an important element: the power of Nintendo behind them. Our sister site The Verge’s Circuit Breaker section wrote about one case in particular, by Wanle, for which reviews suggest that the experience isn’t as good as promised.

Is Nintendo working on a mobile Virtual Console of Game Boy games? Are classics like Pokémon Red, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Super Mario Land bound for iOS and Android? Temper expectations. It’s unclear whether this patent will go anywhere, or if a product would reflect this design. This could be a preview of the Game Boy Classic Edition. Or it could just as well go the way of Nintendo’s never-released Vitality Sensor.