Nintendo already offers Switch Online users access to a selection of classic NES and SNES titles, as well as Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games as part of its Expansion Pack tier. However, this leak suggests the online service could soon be bolstered by the inclusion of Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance games.
Twitter user @trashbandatcoot has flagged an emulator leak that originates from 4chan. The leak appears to confirm a pair of Game Boy emulators that are in development by Nintendo Europe Research and Development. The first, codenamed Hioyo, is for the standard Game Boy (and presumably the Game Boy Color) and the second, called Sloop, appears to be for the Game Boy Advance.
So Nintendo's official Game Boy Advance emulator for the Nintendo Switch just leaked. Now it's just a matter of waiting for NSO to add GBA. pic.twitter.com/mEJcKrRtzLApril 18, 2022
According to the leak, both emulators are functional but suffering from a range of performance issues. Another Twitter user did post what appeared to be footage of these emulators running on a Nintendo Switch, but this post has since been deleted.
A further leaked file would suggest that Nintendo has tested a whole load of popular Game Boy Advance games via these emulators, including The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Metroid Fusion and Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stone. Of course, just because a game has been tested internally doesn’t mean it is guaranteed to be offered via Nintendo Switch Online. However, this list gives us at least some indication of which Game Boy games might be added to the online service.
The library of GBA games they've tested for this thing is massive. Tested is the key word; doesn't mean they'll all actually launch on the service. Yellow = in the rom folder at some point but not in the leaked build.There's one other game with evidence of being tested though- https://t.co/QQDBDcdAZp pic.twitter.com/lGSB4Mg7GtApril 18, 2022
While these leaks certainly look promising, there has been some doubt cast on the validity of these emulators.
YouTuber ModernVintageGamer points out that these emulators include references to EZFlash cartridges, which is a storage device that can be used to pirate software. It does seem somewhat strange that Nintendo would acknowledge a notorious homebrew device in its own official emulators.
Nintendo internally acknowledging EZFlash cartridges make this leak feel off to me. I don’t think Nintendo developed it at all if it’s real pic.twitter.com/GBNtBtgWHjApril 18, 2022
This unconfirmed leak is not the first time we’ve heard whispers of Game Boy games being added to Nintendo Switch Online’s retro games library. Last summer, it was claimed by multiple sources including Eurogamer that the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance would be the next platform added to the Switch Online roster, and this leak throws even more fuel on that fire.
Playing Game Boy games on the Nintendo Switch seems a fairly natural fit, as both systems are portable devices — although the Switch can of course also function as a home console. While a nice addition, the inclusion of Game Boy games is unlikely to make up for the many issues currently holding Nintendo Switch Online back. But at least nostalgia-fueled gamers will enjoy this addition to the subscription service, if it does prove to be a reality.
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Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.