Developer Hacks Apple Watch to Run Game Boy Emulator

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Developer Gabriel O'Flaherty-Chan recently shared a project where he managed to get a Game Boy emulator he dubbed "Giovanni" running on the second-generation Apple Watch, allowing it to play Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.

According to O'Flaherty-Chan, it was a challenge finding the right balance "between framerate and performance," but he says the end result is a "surprisingly usable emulator." In GIFs shared in a blog post, the Apple Watch is displayed running Pokémon Yellow.

applewatchpokemonyellow1
The Giovanni emulator, named after the villain in Pokémon Yellow, was built using open source code from Gambatte, an existing iOS emulator. It uses the Digital Crown and gestures for control purposes.

applewatchpokemonyellow2

By allowing the user to pan on screen for directions, rotate the Digital Crown for up and down, and tap the screen for A, I was able to eliminate buttons until I was left with Select, Start, and B.

Touching the screen for movement isn't a great interaction, but being able to use the Crown worked out a lot better than originally anticipated. Scrolling through a list of options is basically what the Crown was made for, and if the framerate was even slightly higher, the interaction could almost be better than a hardware D-pad.

As Ars Technica points out, Giovanni is not something you should expect to see in the App Store -- it's more of a proof of concept than anything else. Apple does not allow emulators on the App Store, and O'Flaherty-Chan himself says it is afflicted with bugs due to the "constraints of watchOS," including the lack of support for OpenGL and Metal.

The Giovanni source code is, however, available on Github for anyone to download, and the blog post behind the creation of Giovanni is worth reading for anyone interested in the development process.

Tags: hack, emulator

Top Rated Comments

jclo Avatar
50 months ago

Couple days late on this one MR

Send us a tip next time! Sometimes things go under the radar, especially on the weekend. I thought this was interesting to share even if we're a couple days late. It's always fun to see weird stuff running on the Apple Watch.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Relentless Power Avatar
50 months ago
There was an article similar last year with a developer (Nick Lee) running windows on the Apple Watch.

Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WRChris Avatar
50 months ago

Send us a tip next time! Sometimes things go under the radar, especially on the weekend. I thought this was interesting to share even if we're a couple days late. It's always fun to see weird stuff running on the Apple Watch.

Ok, I will do that. Is there a specific place I should send tips? I notice you guys don't post anything on the weekends typically and I think that's when I read about this.

It is a good read, for those who haven't read it already! Keep up the good work!!! Love the site
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jclo Avatar
50 months ago

Ok, I will do that. Is there a specific place I should send tips? I notice you guys don't post anything on the weekends typically and I think that's when I read about this.

It is a good read, for those who haven't read it already! Keep up the good work!!! Love the site

Yep, tips@macrumors.com. Feel free to send us anything interesting you come across.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WRChris Avatar
50 months ago

Yep, tips@macrumors.com. Feel free to send us anything interesting you come across.

Thanks for your time!
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mazz0 Avatar
50 months ago
Pi-KA-chu!
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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