The ability to play emulated Game Boy games has been uncovered within the files of Nintendo Switch.
Specifically, Nintendo-made emulators codenamed Hiyoko (for Game Boy) and Sloop (for Game Boy Advance) have been detailed as part of a new datamine.
To date, there’s been no official word on Game Boy emulation for Nintendo Switch, though Eurogamer previously reported that it was being worked on by Nintendo.
Datamined information posted by Trash_Bandatcoot, suggested the emulators were developed by NERD (Nintendo Europe Research & Development) and were “both functional, albeit with a few bugs”.
Reliable Nintendo dataminer OatmealDome added that Hiyoko, the Switch’s Game Boy emulator, “appears to have netplay support for link cables” – meaning you would be able to simulate having two Game Boy handhelds linked together, (for instance to be able to trade Pokémon).
…called Sloop, and the 7z archive is called Hiyoko, which is a Game Boy emulator, with all Game Boy games being separate applications. These emulators are developed by NERD (Nintendo Europe Research & Development), and are both functional, albeit with a few bugs. (2/?) pic.twitter.com/RRUAVvz2BX
— Trash_Bandatcoot (@trashbandatcoot) April 18, 2022
Interestingly, while it does have netplay support, it doesn’t use any of the usual Nintendo network libraries (NEX, pia). Possibly a custom server for testing.
The SDK used is also very old (v6.4.0, circa 2018!), indicating that this is likely a really old build!
— OatmealDome (@OatmealDome) April 18, 2022
As for Sloop, the Game Boy Advance emulator, a list of games being tested has also popped up online. It’s worth stating that there’s no guarantee these will be games Nintendo eventually releases to play yourself (although it’s hard not to be excited seeing Golden Sun and its sequel here).
The library of GBA games they’ve tested for this thing is massive. Tested is the key word; doesn’t mean they’ll all actually launch on the service. Yellow = in the rom folder at some point but not in the leaked build.
— MondoMega (@Mondo_Mega) April 18, 2022
Last year, rumours swirled of Game Boy games being added to Nintendo Switch Online in the future. In September, Eurogamer sources indicated that Game Boy emulation for Nintendo Switch Online had been worked upon within the company, alongside emulation for other retro platforms (N64 and Sega Mega Drive).
Currently, access to NES and SNES games for Nintendo Switch requires a basic Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Additional games for both N64 and Mega Drive require the newer – and pricier – Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack.
Late last year, Nintendo said it would work to “improve and expand” Nintendo Switch Online, as its subscriber base hit 32 million worldwide.