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Someone modded a Game Boy Color to act as a much better Apple TV remote

The Verge logo The Verge 2/5/2021 Mitchell Clark
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a close up of a machine © Image: Otto Climan

Most people who have used the Apple TV Siri remote have probably craved something that isn’t so darn frustrating to use — but most of us haven’t modded a Game Boy Color to work as one (via Gizmodo). That’s exactly what Italian YouTuber Otto Climan did, and while his project looks sleek as all get-out, it’s surprising how well it works using the Game Boy’s original hardware.

a close up of a phone: Wow, that custom case. © Photo by Otto Climan Wow, that custom case.
a hand holding a remote control: That screen is looking nice. © Photo by Otto Climan That screen is looking nice.

First off, we have to talk about the case he used. It was apparently made by a company called Retro Modding, specifically for the project, and it looks incredible with its blend of ‘90s Apple and Nintendo aesthetics. (Embarrassingly, it looks better than the actual video game console Apple worked on in the ‘90s.) If you’re familiar with the Game Boy Color, you may notice that the screen on Climan’s looks a bit crisper and better backlit. In addition to replacing the case, he also gave the screen an upgrade using what looks like another Retro Modding part.

a hand holding a remote control: The IR blaster is actually original equipment. © Photo by Otto Climan The IR blaster is actually original equipment.

Apart from giving it an incredible aesthetic upgrade, though, there wasn’t a ton of hardware hackery needed. The Game Boy Color comes stock with an IR blaster, which the newest Apple TV set still supports. Of course, some custom software was needed to map the buttons to the IR controls.

Climan’s UI for the ROM is clean and minimalist. © Photo by Otto Climan Climan’s UI for the ROM is clean and minimalist.
a close up of a sign: Even the Game Pak is custom-made and beautiful. © Photo by Otto Climan Even the Game Pak is custom-made and beautiful.
a hand holding a cell phone: Of course, there’s a time period-appropriate clear version. © Photo by Otto Climan Of course, there’s a time period-appropriate clear version.

I wouldn’t have blamed Climan for using a standard custom ROM cartridge, but of course he had one made that matches the Game Boy’s aesthetic. He loaded a ROM that he programmed with the Apple TV’s IR codes and button mappings, and there you have it: a Game Boy Color that can control an Apple TV. And because it has real directional buttons and not a feisty touchpad, it’s probably better at that task than Apple’s actual remote.

Pictured: a reasonable navigation UX. © Photo by Otto Climan Pictured: a reasonable navigation UX.
I need this in my life. © GIF by Otto Climan I need this in my life.

While this project is absolutely incredible, I have an idea for the next iteration: using a Nintendo DS. That way, you can have the touch input if you really want it along with a microphone for Siri support. It doesn’t have an IR blaster or support for Bluetooth like Apple’s remote, but maybe you could add it in with the Game Boy slot, Guitar Hero style.

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