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The Ultimate Original Game Boy Modding Guide

Game Boys are awesome. Let's make them even better!
howchoo   (455)
September 25, 2023
12 minutes

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gameboy • 8 guides
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Game Boys are awesome! But they’ve been around for so long, it’s no surprise to find they have a thriving mod community.

Have you always wanted a purple Gameboy? Maybe you’re tired of sitting under a lamp just to play Tetris. Whatever the case, there’s nothing holding you back from creating the ultimate Game Boy experience you’ve dreamt of since 1989.

This guide lists the most common Game Boy mods available today. I’m ready if you’re ready—now let’s get started.

1 – Custom Game Boy shell

Game Boys can be upgraded with an amazing variety of custom shells. In 2018, you don’t have to look hard to find third party vendors selling Game Boy shells. Most of them are aftermarket shells, created with the modern modding community in mind.

However, it is possible to locate original hardware. Auction websites and used gaming stores sell old devices and individual Game Boy components. This is great for restoration projects or those who just prefer original hardware. If you want to learn more about customizing your shell, visit our Game Boy shell replacement guide.

How to replace an original Game Boy shell
In this guide, I’ll be updating a back-lit Game Boy with a yellow Play It Loud shell.

2 – Custom Game Boy buttons

Another common mod you’ll find in the community is custom buttons. Upgrade your Game Boy with brand new controls! They work just like the old ones, but you can choose a different color if you like.

Third party vendors sell many custom color buttons to match the wide array of replacement shells. Replacing the buttons is just as easy as replacing the shell with half the work! Just open up the Game Boy, remove the front motherboard, and swap out the buttons. While you have that Game Boy open, it’s a great time to fix any button sticking issues—visit our guide to learn how to fix sticky Game Boy buttons.

How to Fix Sticky Game Boy Buttons
You can’t play anything like this. Let’s fix it!

3 – Game Boy backlight mod

Finding an old Game Boy is awesome. Wasting time to find a lamp to sit under is not. That’s why we have the Game Boy backlight mod! After almost 30 years, you can finally install a working light to play your original Game Boy in the dark.

This mod is a little bit involved and could potentially ruin the original screen. You may want to avoid using any sentimental hardware. But if you think you’re ready, so do we. Head over to our Game Boy backlight mod guide to get started!

How to Install a Backlight in a Game Boy
You can play your Game Boy in the dark now!

A small side effect of installing the backlight is speaker whine — I’ve written a guide to help you fix that.

How to Fix Speaker Whining on a Backlit Game Boy
Was that a boop or a beep? I can’t tell—let’s just fix it!

4 – Game Boy bivert chip mod

Backlighting an original Game Boy screen has a direct impact on pixel contrast. Rotating the polarizing film can cause the pixels to invert—some modders do this intentionally. For an ideal display, the pixels need to be inverted twice.

The modding community tackles this issue by means of bivert chip mods. The installation of these chips inverts the signal information for dark and light pixels. This small difference improves the contrast and visibility on the screen. As a side effect from this mod, the contrast wheel now works backwards.

I wrote a complete guide on how to perform the bivert chip mod.

5 – Custom Game Boy bezel

Customizing the bezel on a Game Boy can add an incredible touch to your modding project. The original screen bezels were made of plastic. But you can find a wide variety online, including high quality bezels made of glass.

The original Game Boy was released with a gray bezel. But you’ll find a rainbow of options online—including custom printed graphics. Your only limit is your imagination when it comes to custom bezel replacement.

6 – Increase Game Boy screen size

Game Boy screens are more than necessary, they’re iconic. But there comes a time in every modders like when you realize that maybe it would be pretty cool to install that 3″ aftermarket screen. Just for funsies, right?

Or maybe you’ve bricked your original Game Boy screen in a failed attempt to install a backlight. Repurpose old components and create your very own “frankenboy”. Add a custom after market screen and throw it in a custom shell while you’re at it. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of modern day upgrades.

7 – Game Boy bass boost mod

Original Game Boy audio is so classic, fans have created genres of music based on it. Chiptunes are built on the fundamental sounds created by the Nintendo Game Boy. But what if you wanted to bring out the best of these sounds?

If you’re into high quality audio, this mod is for you. This mod upgrades your Game Boy to let more power through the sound system. Amplify those bass tones and bring out the best audio in your Game Boy. Ready to get started? Check out our Game Boy bass boost guide here.

How to bass boost an original Game Boy
All about that bass? Let’s crank it up!

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