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Lost Game Boy Accessory Rediscovered After 20 Years

Nintendo isn't known for being the most internet-savvy company around, with its Nintendo Switch Online service causing an uproar over its high asking price – just to play Nintendo 64 games. According to some new information, Nintendo has been in the internet business longer than many might think. The company originally made a Game Boy Color accessory that would have added email, internet search, photo sharing, and even live streaming, all before smartphones were even beginning to be popular.

The PageBoy accessory was discovered and shared by Liam Robertson, a video game researcher and archiver, in a video for DidYouKnowGaming? In 1999, a former executive approached Nintendo of America to develop the ambitious first-party accessory, which would have added wireless, online functionality. The idea came a few years after a failed add-on for the Game Boy never reached the market: the Work Boy, which was a full-sized keyboard for the handheld console. Brothers Eddie Gill and Chris Gill, who had worked on the Work Boy, later began envisioning an add-on for the Game Boy Color, which would be centered around communication.

The idea for the add-on is not dissimilar to what video game consoles would eventually have, after the creation of Xbox Live and other online services. Unfortunately for the Page Boy, it had one flaw Nintendo could not overlook.

The Page Boy would only work in certain countries

The way the Page Boy would have functioned was similar to pagers of the same era (hence the name "Page Boy") and would have used radio waves to communicate data. The Gill brothers would eventually form the company Wizard to work towards the creation of this device, with some direct help from Nintendo. Wizard was able to get a pitch meeting with Nintendo in 1999 and gave a full presentation, along with physical models and digital representations of what the Page Boy would look like in action. The presentation even included a bit where Mario would whistle the "World 1-1" music as content loaded.

Nintendo agreed to prototype and work on the creation of the Page Boy as a product. Unfortunately, as time went on and the Page Boy evolved, adding new features like streaming game announcements directly to people, its viability as an international product began to come into question. This version of the Page Boy would have used a cheap wireless data network in the US, but such networks were too expensive in Japan and Europe. Nintendo decided that having an add-on limited to only one region was against the ethos of the Game Boy, which allowed people to play the same games, with the same features anywhere. This resulted in the project getting scrapped.