TheCaseUniverse GameBoy case black upright

This functional GameBoy phone case is the ultimate waste of time and money.

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

Yes, it’s a GameBoy case. A fully functional GameBoy case, to be precise. Well, somehow it’s not an officially licensed Nintendo product.

In fact, I doubt the manufacturer has the right to market such a close likeness of the iconic handheld game console, let alone use the name or sell the games. But that’s the current state of Chinese manufacturing, and it’s not like Nintendo is ever going to do anything this great.

Read more: The ultimate guide to buying phone cases

The design perfectly encapsulates the classic GameBoy vibe, which initially appealed to me. The kicker is a set of nostalgic games to give those idle thumbs something to do. If you’re looking for the ultimate retro look for your phone and the waste of time that comes with it, well, this case is absolutely what you’re looking for. At least if you have a recent iPhone or Galaxy, as the range of supported models is very limited.

What’s it like to use?

TheCaseUniverse GameBoy case playing in hand

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

This game bit runs on a Chinese game emulator, with some mistranslated game titles when selecting the English language option. What you need to do on every reboot.

It includes 36 built-in games with classic GameBoy titles like Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Tetris.

It includes 36 built-in games in total; a handful of GameBoy classics, titles salvaged from other platforms, and some that I doubt have ever seen a commercial release for their sheer shoddy quality. The list includes Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Tetris(a), Ice Climbers, “Boom Man” and an assortment of more mundane titles like Soccer, Pinball and Chinese Chess. The selection might keep you busy while waiting for a bus, but it’s not a GameBoy highlight reel.

The case features a soft D-pad and A/B buttons (they’re not solid plastic like the original), as well as on/off, reset, start/pause, and sound keys. It can be charged via micro-USB and has a small LED light to let you know when it’s charging.

It works pretty well as a case too, in the sense that it’s heavy. I’m now more worried about breaking the console than I am about the phone. There are well-placed cutouts for the usual things like the camera body and USB-C port, and you can still store the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s stylus with the case on. The soft power button and volume rocker keys complete the design. It certainly looks and feels part of a pretty sturdy phone case.

Cheap manufacturing at its best

List of TheCaseUniverse GameBoy games

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

Alright, with the good stuff out of the way, I regret spending $37 on this epitome of crass consumerism (actually $74 – I bought two!). Although the aesthetic appeals to you, once it’s in your hands, it’s immediately obvious that it probably costs around $7 to make.

Without a battery indicator, figuring out when you need to charge the thing is a game in itself.

For starters, the rubber buttons have come out of their casing numerous times. The speaker is shabby and distorted, the screen isn’t centered properly, and that makes the already quite large Galaxy S22 Ultra over a centimeter thicker. Not to mention, you lose wireless charging capabilities with the case on and have to charge it separately via a micro-USB port. That’s clearly too much to ask for a battery level indicator. The screen dims and then turns black when the juice is low, but the games continue to run for a few more minutes. Figuring out when you should charge the thing is a game in itself.

There are at least a few other things the manufacturer could have done to make it a better product. It lost the opportunity to take advantage of reverse wireless charging, or at least a USB-C attachment to draw power from the phone. A microSD card slot for loading other games would also have been great, rather than being stuck with the built-in library that you’ll tire of pretty quickly. It really isn’t a true GameBoy experience without Metroid, Pokemon, or Zelda. Serious Nintendo fans would clearly be better off with an Android emulator.

See also: The best game emulators for Android to play old favorites

It’s definitely a case of form rather than function – I guess that’s what I should have expected anyway. While it’s still undeniably cool and warmly nostalgic, it’s not a well-thought-out enough product to command a $37 purchase, let alone the supposed RRP of $74 (it appears to be a perpetual “today only” discount). “). If that didn’t put you off, you can purchase the case by clicking the button below.

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