Last month was Analogue Pocket month. Since then I’ve been obsessed with mediocre Game Boy (Color) games that I somehow never played when I was young—or never managed to finish. Most of these old games don’t come with a save system since soldering on an extra chip (RAM) meant increased costs. That could be solved by either artificially extending the gameplay thanks to a ludicrous difficulty, or by employing a password system (see for instance Password Hacking Sylvester & Tweety: Breakfast on the Run). My latest acquisitions: Dragon Warrior Monsters, Tom & Jerry, and Elmo from Sesame Street. Only the first is worth playing, but I’m having fun nonetheless.
But where to store all those carts? Most sellers at flea markets long tossed the feeble cardboard boxes from the pre-Nintendo DS era. And most professional retro game stores sell those for more than triple the cart price. For example, the black Dragon Warrior Monsters Game Boy Color cart had me cough up
€35, while a (PAL) version with original box would have easily been
€100. Provided you manage to find it in the first place.
Another solution is needed. Fortunately for us, “The Internetz” already solved it: use clear cassette cases:
These now probably useless plastic containers are a perfect fit for Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance carts. Except that the inside of those cassette cases have two plastic pins that fit the two holes of a cassette. You’ll need to remove one of those (it doesn’t matter which one). See above picture: the Bugs Bunny in Crazy Castle cart takes op the upper space of the cassette case because of the lower pin that’s still there. Removing the pin is just a matter of taking pliers, wiggling a little bit and watching out with the small plastic fragments that tends to crack easily.
I ordered over sixty clear cassette cases somewhere online (for Dutch people: debandjesfabriek.nl) instead of buying old cassettes on flea markets. Most of these plastic covers are black. Watch out with the dimensions: some, like mine, have rounded corners, which is actually not what you want, since it’s more difficult to push in the printed cover image.
Once you get your hands on a bunch of cases and pulled out one pin on each of those, the Game Boy carts fit, congrats! The next part is a bit more difficult: adding a nice looking cover image as finishing touch:
You have basically two options here. Option one: find templates someone else already made, like this shared Mediafire folder or this cassette case covers box folder. They are (1) not complete and (2) not updated in a long time. Tough luck.
The second option then: create your own custom Game Boy cassette covers that look like this:
You can download the three templates here:
To fill the void, The Cover Project is an indispensable resource—most game covers have been scanned in using a high resolution. If all else fails, use a search engine. For the smaller side in-between front and back, I usually paste the logo and fill the color with a primary or secondary color of the front game cover to seamlessly match every side. The shorter flap, the back, matters less to me: as long as the front and middle is okay, I’m happy.
I hope this helps clean up your retro handheld collection. Some enthusiast went further by adding foam to keep the cartridge from moving inside the case, such as Lersar from LAN OC, but I didn’t find that to be an issue. If you want to drool at large collections, there’s always r/Gameboy cassette. Also, a shout-out to Lucas Guimaraes' video game blog where I first learned about this shelving technique.
Something I’m thinking about adding is a personal score mark on the side or a check mark to quickly see whether or not I finished the game. The amount of cases done is starting to approach the number 40 here (don’t judge me).
Don’t forget to give the contacts a good rub!