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How to give the Game Boy and GBA games a retro look on Nintendo Switch

Whether you want to use the “classic feel” filter is up to you

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga on the Nintendo Switch GameBoy Advance app, with a “classic feel” filter over it. Mario dances while waiting to attack some blue Koopas. Image: AlphaDream/Nintendo via Polygon
Julia Lee (she/her) is a guides producer, writing guides for games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Genshin Impact. She helped launch the Rift Herald in 2016.

Just a PSA to those who have Nintendo Switch Online and want to dive immediately into the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games: you can add a “classic feel” filter to replicate the old-school look of playing on one of these handheld devices.

By going into the settings in both the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance menus (before you select which game you want to play), you can check off a “reproduce classic feel” box.

The Game Boy Advance menu within the Nintendo Switch app, with a big red sidebar on the left. The “reproduce classic feel” box has been checked on  the right. Image: Nintendo via Polygon

Doing so will add a grid-like texture over the games. You can see a comparison below, with the left image showing the “classic feel” and the right image showing the game without.

Two comparisons of Mario and Luigi in front of Woohoo Hooniversity. The left image has a grid-like filter over it and the right image is more clear Graphic: Julia Lee/Polygon | Source images: AlphaDream/Nintendo

Whether this makes the game look better or worse is a personal preference, but this helps games look closer to how they were originally intended to be seen.

There are also similar settings for the NES and Super Nintendo games. You can choose to play with different visual options, and even slap a CRT filter over it if you want, which will add that old-school blur.

The ability to play Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games is a recent addition to the Nintendo Switch Online package, as announced in Wednesday’s Nintendo Direct. There’s only a handful of games available to play right now, with more certainly coming in future updates. The Game Boy games can be played with a basic Nintendo Switch Online subscription, but Game Boy Advance games require the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription.

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