Beware Of Tall Grass: Pokemon Go on the Gameboy Pocket

[Pepijn de Vos] was excited to interact with the world’s most popular augmented reality pedometer, Pokemon Go, and was extremely disappointed to find that his Blackberry couldn’t run it. Still, as far as he could tell from behind his wall of obsolete technology, Pokemon Go is all about walking distractedly, being suspicious, and occasionally catching a Pokemon. That should be possible.

Not a stranger to hacking Pokemon on the Gameboy, [Pepijn] put together a plan. Using his TCPoke module, he took it a step further. Rather than just emulating the original gameboy trade signals over the internet, he hacked a Pokemon Red ROM with some custom Z80 assembly to add some features to the Cable Club in the game.

After some waiting for the delivery man to bring a flashable cartridge and along with some Arduino code, he could now translate the steps he took in the game to his steps in the real world. Well, mostly. He could pick the location where he would like to catch a Pokemon. The character stands there. Somewhere around 100m the game will trigger a random pokemon battle.

[Pepijn] is now no longer a social outcast, as you can see in the video after the break. On a simple trip to the grocery store he caught two Pokemon!

13 thoughts on “Beware Of Tall Grass: Pokemon Go on the Gameboy Pocket

  1. Had half hoped someone found a way to overlay the original game over a Gameboy Camera video feed on an original Gameboy.

    Still, this is a pretty cool change to the original game. Now he doesn’t need to pay attention to the game while grinding between random encounters (not that he has to since he could just hack himself 151 lvl 99 pokemon.)

  2. Am I the only one who can’t make heads or tails of the article? I know we’re all geeks here, but half of the text seems to assume intimate familiarity to specific hacks of a specific subgenre (Pokemon). “translate the steps he took in the game to his steps in the real world” sentence seems to imply that his hack is some sort of Gameboy controlled exoskeleton? For the sake of my sanity, I’m going to assume that said “translate the steps he took in the real world into the game” instead.

    Beyond that, as far as I can tell, this has nothing at all to do with Pokemon, it’s just translating GPS signal into game controller moves? If so, that’s not “Pokemon GO” on the Gameboy at all. It seems reasonable to me, that a dedicated person should be able to reverse-engineer the Pokemon GO protocol (at least until they change it to frustrate cheats) and re-implement simple Pokemon GO on any device (with network connection hackable in, at least).

      1. Ad hominem aside, I mis-spoke; actually there’s already about a dozen of Pokemon GO reverse-engineering projects out in the wild, some rather complete, as in example https://www.npmjs.com/package/pokemon-go-mitm – however, it’s not clear to me anyone has yet made independent functional game-client for it. And the challenge would be squeezing that into a microcontroller, assuming one wouldn’t want to be lugging a complete laptop around with whatever device they’re interested in putting it to.

        It’s unclear whence you’re getting your “easier” from, I just said it should be possible but require dedication; it seems just a matter of time until we get stories of Pokemon GO game-client re-skinned to Ghostbusters and PoGO played on a variety of devices with a microcontroller in them and we can have this headline for real. (With the MITM and various GPS hacks already out there you can already do that at least as long as you have the actual game available, and don’t mind getting banned…)

        1. All of a sudden you’re super familiar with Pokemon GO, where a couple hours ago you couldn’t process a simple article…

          Anyways, talk is cheap. Do you think the people who did that MITM exploit or the GPS spoofing, twaddled around staring at their navels while asking if they should do something? If they could do something?

          No. They just went out and did it.

          So, either get out there and do it. If not, what’s the point in all the useless talk then?

    1. The exact nature of the hack was also hard for me to get out of the article. The sentence you pointed out also caught my eye. Glad to know I’m not alone in my poor parsing skills.

      1. He was referring to the fact that it wasn’t a Game Boy Pocket. As an interesting fact, Nintendo didn’t localise the name of the GBC, so even in countries where colour is spelled with a ‘u’ it was still the Game Boy Color.

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