In 2015, the Hyperkin Smart Boy case was an April Fools’ Day joke. In 2016, it became real. And now, in 2017, it’ll actually work with current Android smartphones — Hyperkin is adding a USB Type-C model to the Micro USB model they shipped last year, finally getting with the times.
The Smart Boy is a pretty neat gadget — when used with a smartphone and a companion app, the Game Boy-like buttons on the case trigger touch controls on the phone, giving you a retro gaming experience on your phone with the feel of tactile buttons. That’s pretty awesome, because if you’ve ever tried to play retro games on a smartphone with just touch controls, you know it doesn’t compare to good old buttons and joysticks.
This year’s model figures to be better than last year’s in a lot of ways. Last year, the Smart Boy was sold as a developer’s kit, as Hyperkin was looking for help improving their firmware and software. Makes sense, because the Smart Boy is a lot more complex than it looks — instead of playing knock-off games, the case actually has a slot on the back for Game Boy and Game Boy Color Cartridges. The case copies ROMs from the cartridges and emulates them through the companion app, but all those ROMs are deleted when the phone is removed from the case to thwart piracy. That’s pretty awesome for anyone who has those old cartridges, but doesn’t have a working Game Boy to play them on.
Looks like the Smart Boy has gotten a price cut, too — it’s now $50, down from $60. It can be preordered now, and is scheduled to ship on August 21. Before you jump on it, you’ll probably want to peep Hyperkin’s list of supported smartphone models just to make sure that it’ll work with your phone.