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Nintendo Switch: How To Play Original Game Boy Games In Color

Nintendo announced a smattering of day-one Game Boy games in its first Direct of 2023, notably a smaller crop of games at launch compared to the number of day-one releases for the NES and SNES online services. The lineup at least included some of the popular titles fans hoped for, and for those who grew up without the Game Boy Color, they can experience the graphics of these classic games in more ways than the default.


The Game Boy Color was released in 1998 with a novel function that went beyond its main selling point of playing the games released for it in an expansive rainbow of over 32,000 colors. It also transformed original Game Boy games from default greenscale into color. Specifically, players could choose to display these games in one of 12 sets of colors by inserting different button and D-pad combinations. Regrettably, the Switch service for Game Boy has not offered this hidden feature thus far. Still, online subscribers can change the classic greenscale of original Game Boy games to one of two alternative palettes, including the default palette for those games on Game Boy Color.

The Game Boy Color setting

Players who have downloaded the Game Boy app can change the color preset of original Game Boy titles by visiting the left-hand menu. Under "Play Online," players will find game screen settings to display titles like "Kirby's Dream Land" and "Metroid II: Return of Samus" in the original greenscale of the Game Boy, the grayscale of the Game Boy Pocket, and a game-specific color scheme mirroring how the game looked on the Game Boy Color.


Characters like Kirby suddenly emerge as a pink blob — surprise, surprise — among an otherwise off-white background and foreground, whereas Samus sports a mustard-tinted version of her power suit amid an environment of various shades of blue.

Attempting the button and D-pad combinations that altered the palettes of games on the real Game Boy Color has not worked, neither in the start-up screen of the online service nor during the title sequences of the games. Perhaps Nintendo will add this feature retroactively as more original Game Boy titles debut on the service.

Nintendo has captured a nostalgic bit of its early handheld history with the option to colorize original Game Boy titles. Gamers have rarely complained about having more options, and the option to experience these games in both the green screen that helped the original Game Boy succeed and a colorized reimagining can only add replayability.