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Adamangamingum Rage: "Rekindling the Frame - A Game Boy Camera sequel for the Nintendo DS?"
-By Adam Pearson-
-Presented by DMG Ice.com-
-May contain nerdy techno fan's incessant ramblings about old school tracker progs-
-Presented April 26, 2004-
My first and probably most notorious contribution to DMG Ice was my Game Boy Camera site, which would eventually become "Funtography Hut", a full-fledged sub-site of DMG Ice. Once the hype for the accessory died down, I decided to close the Hut. I do not know if it was necessarily the right move; but some archives from the site are scattered around DMG Ice to this day. It was, in my mind, probably the best peripheral that the Game Boy ever had. But it was not just taking pictures on your Game Boy that made this a killer app. It was the way you could deface the pictures with line drawings and stamps, the panorama options, the built in games (starring you!), printing your pictures out as stickers, the kooky music, the intuitive menus... need I go on? It is Nintendo's claim to fame to take the average concept and blow it out of proportion: to make it more fun than it ever sounded on the drawing board initially.
Camera peripherals supporting color photos for the GBA have been released by third parties since that time, but I have not bothered to pick any of them up. Perhaps I might soon, since they are getting relatively cheap and can be linked to a PC for easy transfer. But I know it won't be the same. Nintendo gave people so much more. Are we forgetting the DJ mode that was built into Game Boy Camera? Players could create their own simple beats and melodies, with lots of wavetable effects, channel cutting/fading, sound fx to lay over, and other such options. Sure it wasn't as terribly complex as Nanoloop or Little Sound DJ, but did it need to be? It was simple enough for anyone to pick up within just a few minutes.
And it caught on with some big names as well. Digital Hardcore Recordings founder Alec Empire made an entire CD of music that was recorded straight from Game Boy Camera's DJ mode to Digital Audio Tape (DAT), under the moniker "Nintendo Teenage Robots" (very clever indeed.) Also, deep in the labyrinths of DMG Ice's interview section, you'll find another "Game Boy DJ" from Japan, DJ 6955. And all this musical output coming from a Game Boy peripheral designed to take pictures? This was no ordinary camera; it was a fully featured creativity suite for the Game Boy, the kind that only Nintendo could offer.
Now here we are, two weeks away from E3, waiting for the unveiling of Nintendo's Dual screen handheld. See, I wondered if Nintendo would ever release it's own Game Boy Camera "sequel" to combat Nyko's Worm Cam. In addition, I also noticed that the old Game Boy Camera wouldn't work so well with the relocated cartridge slot on the Game Boy Advance SP. But with this new dual screen handheld on the horizon, things are starting to come together. I realize now just how ideal the specs for this system would be for a new Game Boy Camera!
For one, having two screens is ideal for a camera application. The top screen can be used as the viewfinder, while the bottom screen stores picture options like contrast and brightness, or maybe to store the freezeframe while the viewfinder continues to move. In any case the top screen can be free of menus and other clutter. The touch-screen on bottom is likely the most intriguing, however. Using a stylus would be ideal for drawing on the pictures or applying stamps. Navigating through pictures you've previously taken or other menus would be a breeze with this new interface.
Yet another thing to consider: The Dualscreen's wireless capabilities! Picture trading and printing was a big factor of using the original Game Boy Camera. Without the slow wiring connections, this would be a "snap" (pardon the pun.) The Dualscreen should be more than able to handle large amounts of data quickly, and makes trading pictures a much more feasible concept. In addition, it probably wouldn't be too hard to upload pictures to your computer via a wireless network using this method.
Back to the aforementioned DJ mode. Let's flesh it out a bit shall we? It was an excellent concept. I know that making music on the original Game Boy's sound chip was the most promising because it has that bare-bones sound to it. I'd like to retain some of that element in this mode. No trying to emulate those crappy loop-based programs out there! Basslines, melodies, drum programming, all set up like the old school tracker programs. That's how it has to be! Just more elements of tracking and more of the setup it takes to make a true song structure.
With the two screens, I'm thinking the programming could all be done on the bottom screen, while the top has your DJ. This way you could possibly edit your tracks on the fly. I've always wished in the original Game Boy Camera's DJ mode that I could go in and make slight edits to my melodies or beat. Switching back to edit mode, however, would put a gap of silence in the output, and you would be forced to hear all of your channels at once. With both modes running at once, you could just fade that channel out, make your edits, and then bring it back in. But it shouldn't stop there. We've got wireless link still in the picture! Call your friends over and you could mix together! The link would keep the BPMs synched while perhaps your friend does the drum track and you do the hook! My biggest aspirations for using a new Game Boy Camera would be connectivity, and this would be the perfect mode to use it in!
I have emphasized the DJ mode a lot, and it was only a small part of the original Game Boy Camera. But does the Camera have to be the integral part of the whole deal? I think what the DS truly needs is something to put that touch screen to good use: the full package. Look at what the original Game Boy Camera was; it went above and beyond it's duties as being a simple camera, and I think that Nintendo's dual screen handheld should go above and beyond just being the gimmicky Game Boy upgrade that people have labeled it. I can't wait to see what the system will look like two weeks from now, and how the games will utilize the new technology at hand. But I think the more people see of the system, the more an idea like this will start to make sense. Let's beg Nintendo to make awesome accessory history once again!
-Editorial by Adam Pearson-
game boy camera links A compendium of online galleries and just overall GBCam nostalgia. Brings a tear to mine eye.
Fat Bankroll: Gameboy Rock A fairly sized article on GB music.
Nintendo Teenage Robots - We Punk Einheit! A big picture of the cover art with track listing. Warning, some of the track names are a bit hardcore in their own right. :O!
The Seven v.10: 6955 The 6955 interview on DMG Ice, mentioned in this article.
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