Is the Gameboy Phone Case Awesome or Lame?

So when the iPhone 11 came out, I jumped right on that. I picked up the 11 Pro Max and it’s great, best phone ever, yadda yadda.

This was around the time my heart was deepest in nostalgic agony for anything retro – it was all I could think about, and I needed a phone case. That’s when I discovered this bad boy.

My wife and I bought our phones together, so we agreed to also buy cases to protect our $1200 phones. Remember when flagship phones were like $500 or better yet remember when they were subsidized and you only needed to spend like $200 up front? Ah the good ole days.

Anyway, I could not find a case that I liked, until I stumbled upon this guy. Now this exact case is available from a large number of retailers under a various amount of names. I happened to buy mine from a site called Caseboy. And in all honesty, I thought that this was a unique, one-of-a-kind product. The Caseboy! Brilliant! Clean, easy website, only about $25 and the buying process was painless; no red flags. I felt pretty good about myself because my phone case was cheaper than my wife’s standard non-gameboy case that she ordered.

It didn’t take long for me to realize all was not as it seemed. My Caseboy was coming direct from China. I’ve seen this before. It actually took so long that I ended up buying a super cheap clear silicone case in the meantime. When the package arrived, there was no familiar Caseboy branding from the website – it may just as well have been ordered from Ali Express.

Which is okay – I didn’t pay a lot for this thing, and it’s here. And it works. Kind of.

First thing I noticed is the girth of this case – it’s not thin by any means, because it has a whole battery and internals to fit inside the case, not to mention a micro usb charging port on the side. There’s 36 games included on the device. They are:

  • Super Contra
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Tetris
  • Boom Man
  • Balloon Fight
  • Donkey Kong
  • Excitebike
  • Galaga
  • Spartan x
  • Arkanoid
  • Five Chess
  • Mahjang
  • Ice Climber
  • Pacman
  • Superstar
  • Tennis
  • Circus
  • Pooyan
  • Battle City
  • F1 Race
  • PinBall
  • Soccer
  • Lone Runner
  • Nuts Milk
  • Olympics
  • 1942
  • Macross
  • Starforce
  • Road Fighter
  • Badminton
  • Sky Destroyer
  • Bomber Jack
  • Chinesechess
  • Urban Champion
  • Mappy
  • Penguin Kun Wars

The buttons are super mushy rubber – as one would expect. The case has a plastic back with rubbery edges, which fit extremely tight on my 11 Pro Max. Taking it on and off just to make this video made me hold my breath. They have cases for iPhones going back to the 6, and also have some Android phone models as well. One point to note is that the screen actually looks really good. Nice frame rate and responsive controls. Big points.

Booting up we’re greeted with a screen that will be familiar if you’ve purchased similar retro emulation all-in-one devices. It always boots up with groovy song, which is an issue – I have a phobia of keeping my phone’s sound on in public and defaulting to sound on when you turn it on makes me want to throw up all over the place. Not only that, but there’s only a single volume button, which gets LOUDER before it mutes. So in order to play this without sound you have to turn it on, and rapidly press the sound button twice. It stresses me out.

Now here’s the other thing, and this is likely isolated to my unit in particular, but the screen is crooked. Mario should not be running uphill constantly. I cannot unsee my crooked screen. I posted a photo of this device to my Instagram page – go follow me – and it took everything in me not to straighten it in Photoshop. But then I wouldn’t be able to reference it in my video.

Now I spent two weeks with this case on my phone well before we were all in quarantine, just to see if I actually would use it. I love the games, the device is always going to be with me. The thing is, the only time I actually pulled it out to play were just to show other people what it was. I realized it was not a whole lot more than a party trick. When it comes down to it, I have a $1200 phone with an insane amount of processing power and games. Something just felt off holding that, turning it around and upside down to play a 30 year old bootlegged game that I can’t save with mushy buttons. And the whole sound on by default thing. Yeah. Plus, at least on Mario, the A and B buttons are inverted. I’m sure it’s like that on all the other games too, but I just haven’t taken the time to play all of them – and to be honest my muscle memory with NES games is not that strong.

There’s another thing – I wear what some would consider tight pants, I chalk it up to my days playing music. And I keep my phone in my back pocket 90% of the time. You know that start-up music? Well it may have well been my entrance music whenever I showed up places, because my ass sitting on that on/off button would boot this bad boy right up. Embarrassingly I wasn’t always the one that noticed the groovy music coming from my pants. This also caused it to be dead more often than not.

So after two weeks of really trying to embrace my retro, my silicone basic case reclaimed it’s spot around my phone and has remained there to this day.

Is the thing cool? Yeah, and it’s neat to show off if that’s your thing. Are die-hard gamers going to use it as their primary gaming devices? Is it going to start ranking on Twitch’s most streamed platforms? No. It’s ultra basic, not terribly comfortable, and it nearly doubles the thickness of your phone. There is a place for this device, and I’m shocked at how they can produce these for under $30 shipped, but it just was more work that it was worth for me. But I also realized that I hardly ever play games on my phone anyway. I mean Tiny Tower was scary addictive, Pokemon Go when I lived in Hollywood was fun, I got destroyed at Hearthstone a bunch. I’d rather bring my Switch Lite in it’s awesome grip and case – check out that video here – and have my whole library plus my Nintendo Online NES & SNES games.

What’s your go-to for mobile or on-the-go gaming? Would you actually use a case like this? If so, be sure to use my affiliate link down in the description so that I can get in on that action while I grow this channel and platform. I would appreciate it.

Be sure to follow my new Instagram account – Tynology Gaming! It’s only four days old but I’m going for it, posting some previews of upcoming videos, some behind the scenes shots, stuff like that.

Cheers, Ty