So yesterday my Gameboy Camera and Printer arrived, along with a box of paper rolls for it. Imagine my excitement as I opened these goodies! I didn't realise that the yellow camera came with the printer order, and I'd also ordered the boxed red camera. Whoops... so now I own 2 Gameboy Cameras... oh well!
I would have fired it all up straight away, but the printer requires 6 AA batteries, which I needed to source, so I came back to it later, batteries in hand, pixels in my brain.
It doesn't take long after switching on the camera to realise that this software is a bit of an anomaly for Nintendo. By that I mean it's pretty weird. Some guy in a Mario suit makes an appearance on the title screen, making some random jerky movements with his arms like a malfunctioning robot.
Creepy shit huh? Well it just gets more random after this. There are various games you can play, which I'm not going to get into, as I'm only really interested in taking photos with this thing, and they're pretty weird. In the camera settings there are various contrast, brightness and palette settings you can play with, but to be honest it's a little tricky to get pics looking how you want them, especially as the screen isn't backlit. I was squinting away at it for ages, but maybe it's easier on a Gameboy Colour or Advance? I don't know, I've only got an OG phat Gameboy, so that's what I used.
First off I tried to take some pics, and kept getting presented with this asshole below, and a message saying "Not enough frames!"
I didn't know what the F that meant, so after a bit more playing around, I realised it was because all the picture slots were full. I have no insturctions for this thing, and nowhere online explains the "No frames left phrase". Anyway, I found out you can only save 30 pics, and whoever previously owned my camera had left all his pics on there. Thanks a lot! And why couldn't they have used a clearer phrase like "No more space" or something? So I went to the Album section and deleted all 30 of the pics on there, which was a painfully long process. Can you select all 30 pics and delete them all at the same time? Of course not, you have to view each one and delete it individually, which involves FOUR button presses, and an irritating animation and tune each time. FML. And there weren't even any pixellated amateur porn pics left on it either.
So, about 10 minutes later I had cleared some save space and was able to take some snaps. Like I say, finding a decent picture setting takes some time, so after I'd sorted that, I took a few selfies (sorry), and a pic or 2 of the dog, because why not.
Getting these pictures off your Gameboy isn't a simple process. The link cable that connects the GB to the printer doesn't connect to a computer. Apparently there is a rare cable that will go from GB to PC, but you need a special emulator and to be running Windows 98 or something to get it all working. Now I'm committed to this cause, but I'm not that committed. My first port of call was to fire up the printer and see what I could get out of that, and maybe scan the pics if they came out well.
It was surprisingly easy to set up for printing. Just connect the cable, turn the printer on, make sure the paper has been fed through, open an image on your GB and hit print. About 30 seconds later your image will be printed. Unfortunately...
Yeah, that's the output of all my hard work. On the left is my sleeping dog, on the right is my handsome face. Obvious, right? Neither pic is done justice by these half-assed efforts. So, again I resorted to the Internet for answers. Turns out, my printer is probably fine, it's the paper that has gone past its sell by date. See GB printers don't use ink, they're thermal printers that only work with thermal paper. Like a lot of receipts used in shops. The paper needs to be fairly new to get a decent printout. There was me thinking I'll get the official Gameboy Printer paper to be on the safe side, and that's exactly the stuff that doesn't work anymore as it's so old! So, if I want decent printouts, I've got to get new thermal paper that is 38mm wide. But, the basic problem with thermal printing overall is that the pictures fade over time, until the paper is blank again. It's true, just check any really old receipts you've got that were printed this way. So I may just not bother using the printer but have it sitting looking pretty in my Games Room/Retro Morgue. Anyway, the other method of getting pictures is scanning the Gameboy screen directly on a flatbed scanner, one of which I happen to have. So here are the fruits of that labour (same pictures as above):
I think you'll agree, they're still not amazing, but passable for a bit of fun, or a Facebook profile pic or something. And for the record, it's a lot easier sorting the brightness, contrast etc out in a computer program after you've scanned the pic than it is trying to set it right on the Gameboy before you take the pic!
So there are 2 lessons to learn from this informative essay on Gameboy photography:
1. Do plenty of research online before you invest in 16-year old technology.
2. Check your Amazon order fully before buying the same thing twice.
Cave of Pixels - I make stupid purchases so you don't have to.
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.