Everything we know about Nintendo Switch Game Boy leaks, games, release date, and more

Game Boy and Game Boy Advance data was discovered, but is it actually coming to Switch?

Photo by Lander Denys

Over the last month, leaks of a potential Game Boy and Game Boy Advance (GBA) emulator on the Nintendo Switch have been stacking up, with some dataminers even getting versions of it to work on their personal systems. 

This is something many fans speculated would be Nintendo’s next addition to the Switch Online (NSO) subscription service after launching the Expansion Pack tier that includes DLC for select games, along with Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games. 

Within this “Sloop” emulator that is specifically used for GBA, a ROM folder contains multiple games that are either playable or information on titles that were potentially included at one point but are no longer featured. There is also other data pointing to games being used for testing purposes, which means just because a game is mentioned doesn’t mean it will be added to the service, if it does become a reality. 

There is also evidence of a Game Boy/Game Boy Color emulator titled “Hiyoko,” though early footage shows games as individual applications and less data was available on just what the backend might look like.

However, that doesn’t change that this Nintendo Switch Game Boy leak has provided in-depth details on a potential addition coming to NSO in the not-so-distant future.

Game Boy Nintendo Switch leak overview

Leaks like this aren’t rare, but they are rarely this extensive. And, while we don’t know much about the source because the leaked files came from 4Chan, we do know that they were dumped from a development Switch, not a regular model. This fact is shown by the files containing not only the GB Hiyoko and GBA Sloop emulators, but also a developmental version of the NES NSO emulator that also included games not included on the current service. 

All three of these variants are listed as being put together between March 2019 and August 2020. We also know via internal data that the emulators were likely being developed by Nintendo European Research & Development, the arm responsible for most of Nintendo’s primary on-system emulators dating back to the Wii U. 

The GB emulator is notably buggy and doesn’t have a lot of content included within it. Only four games were actually featured; Super Mario Land, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Tetris, and Qix. Multiple dataminers point to this being a very early version of a build that is likely more fleshed out now, but we won’t know what it actually looks like until Nintendo confirms its existence. 

The GBA emulator is much more extensive, though many of its features are still hidden or locked since it is a development model. It has multiple segments, including an area for testing emulated link cable functionality for multiplayer modes and features. A total of 30 games can be accessed in Sloop, with 10 other games also being included, though they are not accessible. 

Here is a full list of those games, split between which segment they are included under within the data:

  • Accessible ROMs
    • Astro Boy: Omega Factor
    • Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
    • Drill Dozer
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
    • F-Zero: Maximum Velocity
    • Game & Watch Gallery 4
    • Golden Sun
    • Golden Sun: The Lost Age
    • Gunstar Super Heroes
    • Kirby and the Amazing Mirror
    • Kur Kuru Kururin
    • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
    • Mario Golf: Advance Tour
    • Mario Kart: Super Circuit
    • Mario Tennis: Power Tour
    • Mario vs. Donkey Kong
    • Mega Man Battle Network 2
    • Mega Man Zero 3
    • Metroid Fusion
    • Metroid: Zero Mission
    • Mr. Driller 2
    • Ninja Five-O
    • Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire
    • Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
    • Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation
    • Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
    • Wario Land 4
    • Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3
  • Inaccessible ROMs
    • Car Battler Joe
    • Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
    • ChuChu Rocket!
    • Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town
    • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
    • Koro Koro Puzzle Happy Panechu!
    • Lufia: The Ruins of Lore
    • Mario Party Advance
    • Mega Man Battle Network 5: Team ProtoMan
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team
  • Featured in other ways (likely feature testing)
    • Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald

Overall, the fact the GBA emulator got as far as having online features via link cable emulation tested points to all of this data being outdated but accurate. However, that does not mean GB or GBA games are going to be added to NSO anytime soon. All of this information was obtained from unofficial and outdated data, so we do need to wait for Nintendo to confirm any of it before running with it as fact. 

For fans that are hopeful about these leaks, N64 and Sega Genesis titles were announced as part of the new NSO expansion during the September 2021 Nintendo Direct before becoming available in October last year. If Nintendo does plan on expanding the service again with Game Boy offerings, an announcement in September would line up with the company’s history over the last several years. 

That being said, no NSO expansion was announced in 2020, so fans might be waiting until 2023 to hear more if Nintendo decides to just keep rolling out more NES, SNES, and N64 games through 2022 instead and provide another boost to the service.