A Game Boy Color peripheral known as the Page Boy was once in the works at Nintendo, and though it never saw the light of day, many of the device’s lofty ideas would go on to appear in future Nintendo devices.
The discovery of the Page Boy comes via video game historian Liam Robertson, who documents the previously unheard of device in a new video for the DidYouKnowGaming? YouTube channel.
Many of the Page Boy’s functions were similar to that of the canceled Work Boy peripheral, a keyboard-like add on which would have added features like an appointment book, calculator, and more to Nintendo’s handheld. The Page Boy, however, would go a step further, using the same radio wave frequencies as pagers at the time to allow for communication between Game Boy Color devices.
The project was the brainchild of Eddie Gill. Gill had previously worked on the Work Boy, and with the help of his brother Christopher Gil, began working independently on the idea of the Page Boy, forming the company called Wizard. Whereas the Work Boy was built as a third-party add on, the Gil brothers knew that if the Page Boy was to succeed, it would need to be an official Nintendo product. That led to Gills eventually landing an official meeting with Nintendo executives in 1999, where he presented a technical breakdown of the Page Boy that also included a physical mock-up of what the device could look like to higher-ups at the company, including Nintendo of America president Minoru Arakawa.
To call the peripheral ambitious would have been an understatement. Suggested uses for the Page Boy included the ability for users to read issues of Nintendo Power on their Game Boy Color or even potentially receive broadcasts straight from Nintendo, more than a decade before the company’s now-iconic Nintendo Direct broadcasts. Other functionality would have included a search engine-like feature where users could ask Mario questions, a weather feature, the ability to send messages and emails to other Game Boy Color users, and much more.
According to Robertson, Nintendo was immediately fascinated by the idea of the Page Boy, and greenlit an internal investigation into the device. Gill would go on to become a design consultant for Nintendo. The company wanted the Page Boy to have global appeal, but because of technical limitations like the lack of cost-effective duplex wireless data networks across Europe and Japan, the Page Boy would really only work in the North American market. That led to Nintendo shutting down the project in 2002.
Though the Page Boy would never come to fruition, many of its ideas would live on in other Nintendo projects, ranging from the idea of Amiibo unlocking additional items in games to the Wii’s Weather Channel.