Some people are blessed with all the talent, and one of those people is Andy Sexton, who's not only content with being the Creative Director at Hi-Rez Studios (Smite, Paladins) — he's also a very good Game Boy modder in his free time.
We can't be too mad, though, because he also takes wonderful photos of those mods and shares them on the internet. Also, he was nice to us on Twitter... so we'll give you a pass, Andy. For now.
I didn't realize the community that existed around these mods, and just wanted to be involved
"This morphed into one of my hobbies over the past couple of years," he told us when we asked how he found the time to be so dang good at things. "I really wanted (let's be real, needed) to do something creative and tactile during COVID, so I looked into how to best play GBA carts in 2021. I started seeing these amazing profiles on Instagram filled with Game Boy designs I'd never seen. I didn't realize the community that existed around these mods, and just wanted to be involved."
It was thanks to the delay of the slick Game Boy-esque handheld called the Analogue Pocket — the first of many delays, as it would turn out — that turned his attention towards making his own. Buying an old Game Boy is very well and good, but they're not particularly well-suited for modern gaming, with no backlight, and and not that many colours. Everyone knows that aesthetics and customisablility are very important these days, or we wouldn't have so many Joy-Con colour options.
His latest creation is a Blastoise Game Boy Color, which he made for a friend recently. As it turns out, making something for other people is a whole different ball game, because you can't really just wing it any more.
"I'm a bit Chaotic Good when it comes to my builds," he admitted. "I usually get a big idea of what I want to go for, and then go piece by piece trying to source components to try and pull it off. It can be hectic, but it's actually introduced me to a lot of creators in the mid scene - generally, if you're passionate and have an idea, you can find someone that can help create something custom. I'm also fortunate to have buddies nearby that are into modding (and know how to solder), so it's nice to have some folks to give construction criticism or tips."
But the Blastoise GBC changed the Chaotic part (although not the Good part). "I wanted to help him picture how it would come together - so I made a sheet to give an idea of what all would go into it. Even with this, I had to make some changes, mainly to the back shell, that I think worked out for the better!"
Here's that sheet, for reference:
The design process was still a little chaotic, though — he decided, based on a technique he'd seen on his friend's Instagram, to try out a process called "hydro dipping". "I knew I wanted to replicate a turtle shell for the back of the design," he told us, and hydro dipping was a great way to achieve a tortoiseshell-like effect.
Game Boy mods is not just a fun hobby, either. Sometimes, Andy can even tie it back into his job, with this glow-in-the-dark Ymir GBC to commemorate his work on the game Smite:
...Plus a Dima Game Boy to celebrate the Season 3 launch of Rogue Company:
Andy's own personal Game Boy, though, is not based on a game at all — it's based on Gashapon, the little capsule toys you can get in Japanese arcades. It's very cute.
It's been really nice picking up saves from 20 years ago (!!) and replaying stuff from growing up
"I've always loved Sega and their arcades in Japan," Andy told us, "and combining that idea with Gashapon toys into an actual Game Boy worked out super well. GBA is my favorite generation of handhelds too, so it's been really nice picking up saves from 20 years ago (!!) and replaying stuff from growing up." He's even planning to make the Gashapon SP into a whole series, each in different colours and themes — "the yellow SP will have a Pikachu toy, blue for Sega, pink for Kirby, etc."
But the fun doesn't stop there — Andy's already planning what comes next.
"My next Game Boy is going to be an EarthBound-themed build! The idea is to have the front of the GBC to be metal, with the back being a red-black swirl design to look like Giygas. It's my favorite game, and one of my favorite final bosses. I'm excited to pay tribute to it (if I can pull the idea off!)"
Make sure to follow Andy on Instagram to see all of his latest work, and some of the mods he's bought from other people, like this Switch Lite:
Which one of these Game Boy mods sets your heart aflutter? Are you tempted to get in on modding yourself? Let us know in the comments!