A scrapped Game Boy Color add-on, known as the Page Boy, has recently come to light – and surprisingly, it actually supported a number of features that the Nintendo Switch still lacks today.
The Page Boy’s existence has been unearthed by video game historian Liam Robertson (thanks, GameSpot), who shares many of the add-on’s functions and features in a video for the YouTube channel ‘DidYouKnowTechnovanguard?’. Robertson also reveals why Nintendo eventually canceled the ambitious project in 2002.
The Page Boy was designed to use the same radio frequencies as two-way pagers, which were incredibly popular in the 90s, and which would let uses receive messages over long distances. That would have meant that you could send messages to your friends, send and receive emails, and even browse web pages – all things you can’t do on Nintendo Switch in 2022.
The Page Boy idea was conceived by Eddie Gill, who previously worked on the similarly unreleased Work Boy, which was a keyboard-like add-on that turned the Game Boy into a mini personal computer of sorts.
Gill and his brother Christopher began working on the Page Boy project as a third-party add-on, and in 1999 they pitched it to Nintendo, who decided to get on board with the project after being “fascinated” by the device, according to Robertson.
Unfortunately, despite the Page Boy’s exciting potential, the device was scrapped due to its lack of global appeal. Limitations with finding cost-effective duplex wireless data networks across Europe and Japan meant the device would have only been viable in North America, which wasn’t a big enough market for Nintendo to pursue the project further.
Analysis: what could have been…
Of course, many of the features the Page Boy was originally supposed to support can be found in later Nintendo products – for example the Page Boy’s purported Weather app became the Wii’s Weather Channel.
Strangely, despite the Page Boy being a communication-focused product, Nintendo hasn’t had the best track record when comes to online social features. The Nintendo Switch, for example, doesn’t let you send messages to friends, and voice communications for most games require users to download the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app.
It’s strange that a device that was in development in 1999 has more functionality than Nintendo’s current console in 2022 when it comes to communication, although that hasn’t stopped the Switch from selling millions of units and having a phenomenal 2021.
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