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The Game Boy comeback you've always wanted is here at CES

Hyperkin's Ultra Game Boy is a dream machine for retro gamers and chiptune musicians.


Hyperkin's Ultra Gameboy. Made of aluminum.

Sean Buckley/CNET

Despite its monochrome display, single mono speaker and bulky design, Nintendo's original Game Boy stands as one of the most iconic personal electronic devices ever created. It boasted a library of 8-bit games to rival Nintendo's own home console and dominated technically superior devices such as the Sega Game Gear and Atari Lynx. When Nintendo replaced it, the original survived as an instrument for chiptune artists. Hell, it was tough enough to survive the Gulf War.

The Game Boy is a masterpiece. And Hyperkin's brought it back for CES 2018. It's showing off the Hyperkin Ultra Game Boy, an enhanced recreation of Nintendo's original hardware encased in a durable aluminum shell.

At first blush, the Ultra Game Boy looks like a heavier Game Boy Pocket with a backlight mod -- and for the most part, it feels that way too. Playing it ticks off all the right nostalgia boxes: The buttons have the clickier feel of Nintendo's second portable revision, and everything is in just the right place. It even plays game cartridges just as well as the original did, albeit with a blue cast thanks to the colored backlight.

On its own, all that would be good enough for a solid, after-market Game Boy Pocket, but Hyperkin's Ultra Game Boy wants to be more than that. Right now, the prototype is indeed a dead ringer for Nintendo's own hardware -- but the final hardware is going to have a lot of bonus features.

Hyperkin warned us that the final design could still change -- but gave us a peek at some of the features it's thinking about adding to the console. A dial on the right-hand side that adjusts the backlight color to a number of different hues. A USB-C connector for charging. Stereo output for better sound. Even an SD card slot -- but not to surreptitiously load ROMs onto the console -- to export chiptune music.

In fact, Hyperkin says it's working with the team behind Little Sound DJ to make sure every Ultra Game Boy comes with chiptune music composition software built-in -- meaning what we have is a premium Game Boy designed for every niche the original eventually fell into: collectors, retro-gamers, musicians and people who need a game console durable enough to survive a war zone.

That's amazing.

Hyperkin says the final design is still in flux, but it plans to sell the Ultra Game Boy for under $100 when it launches later this year.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to eBay. I have a Game Boy collection to rebuild.

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