Struggling console manufacturer Nintendo has patented an emulator for its Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance line of handhelds. Emulation lets you run games on hardware other than the device it was intended for without the need of the console or its games in physical form. This could see games on these consoles working on seat-back screens on airplanes and trains, and mobile and desktop devices.
The patent was published on the US Patent Office website and discovered by a member of the gaming enthusiast forum, NeoGAF. Right now, Nintendo's foray into mobile restricted to a few companion apps which are yet to be released. The first will be for Wii U exclusive Mario Kart 8 that hit the shelves earlier this year.
Being able to legitimately play Mario or Pokémon in the palm of your hands would be a welcome addition for a smartphone audience looking for a hit of nostalgia. It would cut out the added cost of getting a Wii U or 3DS, both of which you play a selection of Nintendo's back catalogue. Of course, the emulator will probably not be free, and each game or ROM will probably cost. Right now, the only way of playing Nintendo's older titles on your smartphone or PC demands the use of third party emulation which is not entirely legal.
However a patent application does not necessarily mean we'll see an official Game Boy emulator any time soon. Reason being, the original applications were filed over ten years ago. Since then, Nintendo has not released anything to suggest that this is not merely a means by which it is protecting its intellectual property. And as with the case with most patent applications, their filing does indicate a line of the thought the company may have had for a product or ecosystem - but may not necessarily pan into reality.