Nintendo Patents Game Boy Emulator, Apps Coming Next?

Rumors of Nintendo porting their most famous titles to iOS have been floating around since the first iPhone was launched in 2007. As it turns out, the App Store is not the place to find Super Mario Brothers or Zelda. Nintendo watchers are at it again after the publication of a patent filed by Nintendo titled "Hand-held Video Game Platform Emulation".

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The focus of the patent is on emulating Nintendo game platforms such as the Game Boy Advance on various modern devices. iPhones and iPads could be included in the broad definition, as well as built-in screens in airplane and train seats. The patent explains that software emulation would model "a native platform liquid crystal display controller using a sequential state machine" and provide high quality graphics and sound.

Game Boy emulators are not new when it comes to iOS, however over the years none of these have been official. The result is that Nintendo and Apple pull these apps from the App Store as soon as they are discovered, for violating the terms of service. Recently Nintendo has signaled interest in developing so-called service apps to connect with customers. These apps will not be games, but they will deliver information about Nintendo products to iOS and Android devices.

In the meantime, there are many game developers who have released versions of their 8-bit retro past on the App Store. Unofficial Nintendo emulation has not disappeared, either. GBA4iOS can be installed on jailbroken and stock iOS devices alike. The popular package emulates both Game Boy Advanced and Game Boy Color.

While seeing a patent published is a step in the right direction for Nintendo fans, it remains to be seen whether the company will have a change of heart when it comes to releasing its game library for iOS.