Pokemon Yellow runs on Apple Watch thanks to GBC emulator

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The Pokemon fever has hit the Apple Watch. Well, sort of. We’ve seen all sorts of crazy, and admittedly useless, antics done on Android Wear smartwatches but not so much on the Apple Watch. Well, the Apple Watch does have some “hacks”, and sometimes for things that matter the most. Like, for example, being able to play Pokemon Yellow on the Apple Watch 2, thanks to an Game Boy Color emulator “appropriately” named “Giovanni”.

In the Pokemon games, both Giovanni and Pokemon Yellow hold very special values. Giovanni is the leader of the antagonists Team Rocket while Yellow was the only version of the game that let you start with a Pikachu, following the animated series’ beginnings. As such, Pokemon Yellow is held dear by Pokemon fans, like iOS developer Gabriel O’Flaherty-Chan.

This isn’t the first time O’Flaherty-Chan’s name came up in relation to insane Apple Watch projects. Bemoaning the lack of apps for the smartwatch, O’Flaherty-Chan set out to fill in the gap with a 3D RPG for the Apple Watch. This time, he dived into the realm of game emulation to bring his favorite Game Boy title to the wearable device.

As you can probably imagine, implementing a Game Boy emulator on a smartwatch isn’t the easiest thing to do, considering the hardware restraints. O’Flaherty-Chan was specifically hampered by the rather crude graphics system on the Apple Watch 2, which basically required churning out pixels directly rather than going through well-known APIs like OpenGL or Apple’s own Metal. Input is also tricky, but O’Flaherty-Chan thought out of the box for this one. Instead of having all buttons on the cramped screen, he mapped taps to the A button, panning to screen gestures, and scrolling to the crown. That reduced the on-screen buttons to B, Start, and Select.

Giovanni, sadly, is only a prototype, more a proof of concept on what can be done. Performance leaves much room for improvement, though O’Flaherty-Chan himself isn’t yet sure whether he would push through with it or not. That said, he did open source the emulator so that others can take up the work if they wish to.

SOURCE: Gabriel O’Flaherty-Chan



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