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Now we finally have a reason to buy an Apple Watch Series 2.
If you’ve ever wanted to play old Game Boy games on a tiny screen with virtually no buttons for controls, you’re in luck. Developer Gabriel O’Flaherty-Chan has done just that by building a Game Boy emulator for the Apple Watch. While impractical for actually playing, the achievement is still pretty impressive.
The emulator, dubbed Giovanni, can run Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles on the Apple Watch Series 2. The platform itself is based off an existing Game Boy emulator, just tweaked to run on the latest Apple Watch. Things aren’t perfect, however. Because of a variety of workarounds, it’s more of a prototype than a polished, finished product.
The developer warns that “due to the constraints of watchOS, you may experience crashes or graphical glitches.” The latter includes things such as all-white pixels, garbled pixels, and incorrect colors. Games also don’t play quite at full speed. Since the Apple Watch doesn’t support graphics APIs such as Metal or OpenGL ES, O’Flaherty-Chan had some extra challenges to work around. However, he says he does plan to keep working on these issues (particularly on improving the frame rate) when the next generation Apple Watch or WatchOS comes out.
O’Flaherty-Chan details how to download the emulator, as well as how to control the games, on Github. Basically, the top left of the Apple Watch screen is the control pad and the top right of the screen is the A button. The select, start, and B buttons exist across the bottom of the screen. Instead of using the onscreen control pad, you can also twist the Watch’s Digital Crown to move up or down onscreen.
If your Apple Watch ambitions are more on the time wasting end of the spectrum than productivity, you may want to try loading up this emulator yourself. Just be sure to familiarize yourself with what to do when the app crashes.
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.