Nintendo has been known to create a lot of very strange and weird devices. Things that maybe aren't really toy like and probably aren't really videogame like either. And something they released back in the late ‘90s was a device for the Game Boy that pretty much turned the Game Boy into one of the first digital cameras ever sold to consumers. This is the Game Boy Camera.
Released in 1998 the Game Boy Camera was the world's smallest digital camera when it came out. It also happened to be my very first digital camera. I personally wasn't much of a photographer at the time but the camera gave me endless hours of enjoyment and started to teach me some of the basic fundamentals of taking a digital picture. The Game Boy Camera is actually pretty easy to use. All you really got to do is aim it at something and press the A button and then the picture is taken. You can choose to save it or cancel the picture altogether but if you choose save it goes into the library where you can do additional things with it like put stamps on it and warp stuff. It's kind of cool and for a digital camera at the time having the ability to save about 30 pictures on your camera was pretty neat. They're not the highest quality pictures in the world but they're still pretty neat for the time. The camera is loaded with features starting with a bunch of different photo capture modes. My personal favorite being the four quadrant picture mode because it just kind of looks hilarious. You can also take any of the pictures you've taken and create simplified animations with them. I used to spend hours making all sorts of animations as a kid and I found it incredibly fun. Also with any of the pictures you take you can put stamps on them and alter them in a couple of fun ways. At the time these kinds of editing techniques for digital photography were out of reach for most kids. So having these options in a portable device was really cool. There's also a special mode where you can take up to four different pictures of your face. These pictures will then be used in multiple mini games featured on the camera.
All of the mini games are accessed by playing a mini sequel to Nintendo's original arcade Space Invaders knockoff called Space Fever. At the beginning of the game you can fire on a selection of enemies that represent different mini games. If you don't fire on them you begin playing Space Fever. It's a pretty basic shoot-'em-up with a handful of enemies. You also have to defeat three bosses that are just really big gigantic heads. If you make it to the third and final boss your face is revealed and you have to destroy yourself. Pretty fun but if you choose to select one of the mini games the first mini game is a recreation of the first Game & Watch release simply called Ball. This is a pretty basic game but with the ability to use your own face it becomes a fun little novelty. The second game is a simplified but very interesting music sequencer called DJ. For me this was the earliest example of being able to customise chiptune music. While there really isn't any score or way to lose or win it's an interesting way to create some really cool music. The third game is a bonus feature that you win after earning 2,000 points or more in Space Fever. It's called Run, Run, Run. A simple and sometimes difficult running and jumping game that much like the other mini games can also feature your face. This one really didn't do much for me but just like all the other games and pretty much all the other features it's just the novelty and it's not really what this camera is all about.
There are a bunch of hidden animations and images throughout the software and they're really fun to find and discover. It really makes this more than just a simple camera. But when I was a kid and I picked this thing up I had one problem with it. When the Game Boy Camera originally came out it wasn't in color. Even though when I picked up this camera I did have a Game Boy Color which was capable of projecting colors the camera itself still couldn't do that. But if Nintendo did make a Game Boy Camera that actually utilized color it probably would have looked really cool at the time having a little Game Boy Color that could actually take color pictures. But unfortunately it didn't so everyone everywhere including people that had Game Boy Colors just got this. Whatever it still was a really cool camera. In a time where digital cameras are now commonplace and stuffed into every device we own back in the ‘90s Nintendo was onto something special. Maybe they didn't know how important this device would be or how much of an impact it would have on the young kids who bought it but I believe it changed the scope of consumer electronics for the better.