Nintendo patents Gameboy emulator. Why?

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Gameboy emulation has been around for years. You can load up roms in to your emulator of choice and play handheld games like it’s 1989. Nintendo even uses Gameboy emulation in its virtual console. In 2003 the company filed for an emulation patent which was granted in 2012. Earlier this year, they applied anew, with the patent being granted yesterday (via neoGAF). Why? Is Nintendo set to release its own official mobile Gameboy Emulator?

Here’s what the patent’s for:

A software emulator for emulating a handheld video game platform such as GAME BOY.RTM., GAME BOY COLOR.RTM. and/or GAME BOY ADVANCE.RTM. on a low-capability target platform (e.g., a seat-back display for airline or train use, a personal digital assistant, a cell phone) uses a number of features and optimizations to provide high quality graphics and sound that nearly duplicates the game playing experience on the native platform. Some exemplary features include use of bit BLITing, graphics character reformatting, modeling of a native platform liquid crystal display controller using a sequential state machine, and selective skipping of frame display updates if the game play falls behind what would occur on the native platform.

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Why would Nintendo patent this? While one would hope that it means we’ll be seeing a properly functional Gameboy emulator on iOS or Android (or, as the diagrams suggest, in the seatbacks of planes), it’s more likely that they’re just doing it to protect themselves legally, and maybe finally do something about all of those fan-mad emulators available on PCs, handhelds and mobile phones.

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In an ideal world though, it’d be to finally bring Pokémon Red and Blue to Android and iOS in an official capacity. This is not an ideal, world.

Last Updated: November 28, 2014

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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