Everything You Need To Get Started

Here’s everything needed to mod a Game Boy, from installing new screens mods to general maintenance and cleaning on these retro devices.

Thanks to the consistent release of screen kits and mod components, the Nintendo Game Boy modding scene has grown rapidly in recent years. Picking up something as seemingly technical as messing with a console’s inner components can be daunting, but many Game Boy mods require no advanced knowledge, and modders can customize these beloved retro Nintendo consoles with only limited tools.

Despite being released in 1989, the Game Boy has spawned a substantial modding community. Perhaps it’s the relative simplicity of the device – which makes it easy to mod – or simply many gamers’ nostalgia for old-school Nintendo, but modders are constantly installing and developing new Game Boy mods. A prospective modder may just want a brighter screen or a different shell, but mods also exist for upgraded audio performance, light-up buttons, and enhanced batteries. Of course, one could just buy an already modded Game Boy, but many prefer to modify their devices themselves, as modding can be a fun, rewarding hobby.

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Before any mods are installed, though, nearly every Game Boy needs to be taken apart and given a good cleaning. This requires either a Phillips-head or tri-wing screwdriver, depending on the revision and model of the particular Game Boy. For cleaning, modders will need high-percent isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs. Isopropyl alcohol evaporates very quickly, avoiding the potential corrosiveness of other cleaning products, and cotton swabs can help get that alcohol into small, recessed areas. Compressed air can also remove dust in other difficult spots, and items like gloves and paper towels come in handy, too.

closeup image of original game boy

Another useful tool for taking apart Game Boys is the spudger – easily substituted with a guitar pick – which can be used to separate plastic parts without scratching them. Tweezers (preferably plastic- or ceramic-tipped ones, to avoid damaging electronic components), sandpaper, double-sided tape, and extra hook-up wires are often needed for various mods, as are craft knives and flush cutters, useful for trimming hard plastic and wiring. A soldering iron is required for many but not all mods; these are better with adjustable heat settings to fine-tune temperature. It’s also recommended to have a GameBit screwdriver, which can be used to open up Game Boy game cartridges.

Of course, modders are going to need replacement parts and add-ons. These include shells, buttons, lights, and backlit screens, all widely available on the aftermarket in various colors and materials. It’s also relatively easy to find discarded parts and combine them to create a new treasure, letting Game Boy fans relive memories of childhood in a brand-new package.

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