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Andrew Haglund

I Love Delta

The best Gameboy is the one you have with you.

I have been having a blast playing Pokémon Crystal (specifically the Polished Crystal romhack) for the Gameboy Color, Tetris, and Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story for the Nintendo DS with Delta for iPhone. At the time of this post Delta is still #1 in the App Store thanks to Apple’s sudden and inexplicable1 change of heart. It’s an incredible app that’s been in the works for a long time by Riley Testut. You can support it on Patreon.

I’ve been having fun making a custom skin for Gameboy Color to improve the screen size and ergonomics in landscape.2 I’ve been playing with the Gamesir G8 controller — which is great.3 Pokémon is fine with onscreen controls but a real controller is ideal for games like Super Mario World and Tetris.

What makes retro gaming on iPhone so special is everything that makes the iPhone such a compelling product: great support for wireless headphones, great battery life, streaming to your TV with AirPlay, and game controller support. This entire ecosystem was just dying to get emulation added to the mix. Federico and John covered this well on MacStories Unwind.4

The past few years I’ve been following along with Russ at Retro Game Corp and have bought the Miyoo Mini, a couple Anbernics, and even the Analogue Pocket. I see now that I have a problem but I find comfort in knowing Brendon Bigley (of Into the Aether) is in the same boat.

While these devices can be great uni-taskers with good physical controls, they all fall short of the iPhone when it comes to screen quality, staying charged, and convenience:

While waiting in line for coffee on Sunday I pulled out my iPhone and played a few Pokemon battles (thanks to turbo mode) and caught a Jigglypuff. There’s no way I would have even thought to bring one of those other devices on this quick neighborhood outing. Combine that with auto-saving when putting the phone to sleep — it’s just so easy to dip in and out.

As photography nerds like to say: the best camera is the one you have with you. This has been proven with the smartphone and now we’re seeing it all over again with Delta.

The best Gameboy is the one you have with you.

  1. To anyone who says regulation and competition don’t work, exhibit A is Delta and Apple changing the rules after 16 godforsaken years. ↩︎

  2. It’s not ready to share but I will definitely will. I know others will enjoy it. ↩︎

  3. I bought a magnetic monstrosity for the PS5 controller. This thing is heavy and pairing to Bluetooth (then remembering to power it off) is not fun. Pro: the magnet lets you rotate the phone to portrait mode for an amazing DS experience (if you can get it balanced). I also tried the Backbone and thought it felt flimsy with too-small buttons and joysticks. I found it used for $40 and it was promptly returned. ↩︎

  4. Also mentioned in the show: while 99% of people are excited about Delta there’s a small (and annoying) part of the discourse saying, “Android has had emulation forever, what’s the big deal?” Two things: (1) Delta itself is so good and (2) as Merlin Mann would say, “it might as well be on Mars.” ↩︎