There’s no discourse more toxic in the tech community than opinions on Apple’s attempts to redesign the TV remote. There are those that love the latest iteration, and there are those that correctly believe it’s bad. It seemed it would be impossible for everyone to find common ground until this customised Apple-themed Game Boy Colour that doubles as an Apple TV remote arrived.
If you’re wondering, the answer is no, Apple never commissioned Nintendo to make a custom version of the GBC for its schwag catalogue or as a gift for employees. Instead, Otto Climan started with an original Game Boy Colour handheld that they upgraded with a backlit LCD display because the GBC arrived well before Nintendo stopped using dim screens that strained your eyes. For the custom white case adorned with Apple’s older rainbow logo, Climan turned to a company called Retro Modding (who also made the custom GBA featured in our retro gaming buyer’s guide) that supplied him with matching white buttons and, more importantly, a matching white flash cartridge.
The cartridge looks like a standard GB/GBC game cartridge, but it includes a slot for a microSD card and the ability to run ROM files from it. While some ne’er-do-wells use these flash carts to play games, Climan instead developed his own ROM file capable of controlling the Game Boy Colour’s IR port, which was originally used to transfer game data between devices.
The newer and much-maligned Apple TV remote with the touchpad works over Bluetooth, but Apple retained the IR capabilities of previous Apple TV boxes so the streaming player can still control other devices like TVs. Getting the Game Boy Colour to talk to the Apple TV was relatively straightforward (all the codes that Apple uses for its boxes and remotes to talk are easy to find online), but it apparently did require some overclocking of the GBC’s processor, which is a trick some games used decades ago.
Because the added TV remote functionality comes through a ROM file running on a flash cart, the Game Boy Colour still works like a stock GBC and can play other games by just swapping the cart. No Game Boys had to die for this hack, although we’re hoping that once they got this upgrade working, Climan mercifully put their Apple TV remote out of its misery.