Saturday, September 15, 2018

Game Boy Colorization Examples

In a previous blog entry discussed the various tools developers had when they sought to colorize Game Boy games.  The two main hardware methods were the Super Game Boy and the Game Boy Color.  In a followup to that blog entry, this blog entry let's talk about and show examples of how each method was used.

Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong was the first Game Boy game with SGB support.  The title screen is indicative of the best you were likely to perceive in terms of enhanced color.

This title screen has no moving objects, so it is ideal for the SGB's colorization abilities.  Because the SGB can only apply colors to an area of the screen, static images tend to get the best colorization treatment.  The title screen shows 9 colors, one less than the maximum the SGB can show with GB graphics.  Other non-gaming screens are equally if not more colorful.

When we enter the game, things take on a much more monochromatic cast.  Below the status bar, the active portion of the screen is only using four colors for each level of Donkey Kong.  The status bar's use of different colors, which is possible because the status bar is always in a fixed position, helps distract from the fact that the colors below it can be achieved with the SGB's palette editor.  Additionally, Nintendo changed palettes every level, which also helps to break up the monochromatic approach.

Space Invaders

Space Invaders is a remarkable cartridge in more ways that I originally realized.  It contains the SNES version of the game which it loads into the SNES's W-RAM if you select that option.  The GB version also supports positional stereo sound whereby the sounds of your shots are louder out of your left or right speaker if your cannon is on the left or right side of the screen.  Finally the SGB version also supports more than four colors in the active play area in either the Color (5 colors) or Cellophane Color (8 colors) modes.

Normally developers avoided using more than four colors in the active playing area to avoid issues where the color of a tile depends on its location on the screen.  But Space Invaders takes advantage of how the original arcade hardware worked.  Early versions of space invaders used black and white monitors.  Color cellophane strips were put over the monitors to give color to areas of the screen.  Later versions of Space Invaders had circuitry to generate color, but only for rows of graphics, not by tile or character.  By embracing the past the developers of the GB port made a perfectly acceptable use of more than four colors on the SGB's active display.

Multi-Cart Support 

Let's shift gears for a moment and discuss GB memory mapping hardware.  The GB's 8-bit CPU can only address 64KB of memory, and Nintendo designed the chip so it could address 32KB of ROM.  Other memory locations were reserved for communicating with RAM, APU and PPU, the Link Port and reading the buttons.  Even when the first games were being developed Nintendo realized that 32KB was insufficient for complex games and devised Multi-Bank Controllers (MBCs) to allow the GB to address much more ROM using bankswitching.  They also allowed the cartridge to map in battery-backed RAM and to bankswitch RAM.  Two MBCs, MBC1 and to a lesser extent MBC2, were found in virtually all GB cartridges larger than 32KB.  MBC3 and MBC5 allowed for even larger games but were introduced around the time of the GBC.

Any emulator or flash cart worth anything will support MBC1, 2, 3 & 5 in addition to no MBC.  However, Nintendo did make other memory controllers for Game Boy cartridges (MMM01, MCB6) but they were not often used outside of Japan.  Hudson also contributed a pair of custom memory controllers (HuC-1 and HuC-3) and Bandai used a custom controller (TAMA5) in one of its games.  Because these chips were seldom used in Japanese games and almost never used outside of Japan, they are rarely supported in Game Boy emulators.

The Game Boy was the dominant handheld gaming platform for an incredible nine years (1989-98).  Beginning in the mid-90s, some companies began to release "Collections" cartridges featuring more than one game.  These games had been previously released as single cartridges at an earlier time, but publishers sought to squeeze some more money out of them by re-releasing them with other games to persuade value-minded consumers to buy them.  Many of these collection releases had some Super Game Boy support.

While some of these Collections used standard MBCs, some did not.  When the game was originally developed, it assumed it would be the only game on the cartridge.  When it was combined with other games, its memory pointers may no longer work because the game is no longer where it thinks it is.  Some developers revised their code to change their pointers.  Others did not and had to use multi-cart friendly hardware instead.  Two main methods emerged.

The first was to use the standard MBC1 in a non-standard way.  MCB1 has registers to control ROM bankswitching and registers to control RAM bankswitching.  By repurposing the RAM bankswitching registers to control ROM bankswitching on the cartridge, support for multiple non-battery backed games became possible.  Each game, which has no reason to write to the RAM bankswitching register, will think it is playing on its standalone cartridge.  A menu program to select the games can be fit into a spare bank.  This unique method of using the MCB1 has been referred to as MCB1M.

Six games used the MCB1M method to select multiple games : Bomber Man Collection, Bomber Man Selection, Genjin Collection, Momotarou Collection, Mortal Kombat & Mortal Kombat II and Super Chinese Land 1.2.3'.  Mortal Kombat & Mortal Kombat II, the only multi-cart game released outside of Asia, does not support SGB.  Bomber Man Selection was released in Korea and is a GBC-only release.

The second method was to use the MMM01 chip.  This chip allowed the programmer to address as much memory as the later MCB5 chip (8MB).  Its main feature was that the menu could protect any bits of the MMM01's bankswitching registers from the games contained within the cartridge.  Additionally it allowed for games to share battery-backed SRAM and was more efficient in dealing with games of different sizes.

Six games used the MMM01 chip, and none of them were released outside of Asia.  Momotarou Collection 2 & Taito Variety Pack were released in Japan.  Momotarou Collection 2 supports SGB.  The Mani 4 in 1 series was released in China and there were five releases in the series.  Each cartridge featured four games from a particular developer, Nintendo, Taito, Tomy, Irem and Hudson Soft.  All have SGB support, but the Nintendo cartridge does not use MMM01 because the games were 32KB and thus simple discrete logic was used.

The only emulator I know that supports SGB Borders & Palettes and the MCB1M and MMM01 is the recently released bgb 1.5.7.  Using bgb I was able to investigate the level of SGB support for these multi-carts.  The results were underwhelming.  Some cartridges include games that already had SGB support like Bomber Man Collection's Bomber Man GB 2 function normally.  Games which did not have SGB support when they were originally released will only have a palette assigned (which never changes) to them and maybe a custom border.  Bomber Man Selection, the Korean release, actually has rather good use of color.

The Mani releases are curious.  The Nintendo multi-cart games (Tetris, Alleyway, Yakuman, Tennis) already have a default palette for them built-into the SGB's program, so they function as their individual cartridges function.  However, for the other multi-carts, the color selection appears to have been picked somewhat randomly.  Some games have rather bizarre colors by default :

In order to use MMM01 ROMs with bgb, you must relocate the last 32,768 bytes of the ROM to the beginning of the file.  Use of a hex editor like XVI32 to cut and paste is probably best.  If the MMM01 header is not in the first 32KB of the ROM, bgb won't run it correctly.

The Short Colorization Re-release

While rare, it has been known for a game to have been re-released with color support not long after its original release.  This has happened with Tetris 2, which was originally a pure GB game before it was re-released with SGB support.  It was originally released in October, 1993 in the US and the re-release appears to date from 1994.  The re-release was distributed in the USA, where it is a little more rare, and in Europe.  Japan got the SGB support under the title Tetris Flash.  It appears that the developer probably began including SGB support when programming the Japanese version and Nintendo saw it as a way to help sell their new SGB and authorized a re-release within a year.  Tetris 2's monochrome version does not have a default SGB palette.

When Nintendo introduced the GBC, something similar happened with Wario Land II.  The game was originally released in March of 1998 with only SGB support in the US and Europe.  The game  was not released in Japan until October, 1998 to coincide with the GBC's release.  It seems that Nintendo thought re-releasing Wario Land II in a colorized form would help with the trickle of color software available at launch for the GBC.  For owners of the SGB version, Nintendo included a special default color palette when it is run in the GBC.

Game Boy Color Bootstrap ROM Palettes

When the Game Boy Color was released, Nintendo allowed its Bootstrap ROM to set the colors for some of its monochrome games.   The GBC had no SGB support.  However, the GBC did have direct access to the background palette and the two sprite palettes that original GB games used, unlike the SGB.  The background palette could provide four colors and each sprite palette could add three, so the GBC could add up to 10 colors to older GB games.  There are two limits on this approach.  First, the player was stuck with these colors for the entire game whereas the SGB could change the color scheme at will.  Second, if the game or version of that game was not included in the Bootstrap's list of included games, the player could only select from the 12 user-selectable palettes that could be chosen by pressing button combinations as the boot logo was being drawn.

The bootstrap ROM was somewhat picky about the games to which it would apply a tailored palette.  All Nintendo first party and almost all second party games from HAL Labratories and Game Freak are included on the list.  After that it appears limited mainly to games released in markets which Nintendo had a hand in distributing.  European releases often have a custom palette whereas Japanese and US releases are not recognized.

Here is one example of a variation.  Compare how Mega Man in Dr. Wily's Revenge looks in it's US version (right) and its European version (left):

Mega Man is generally blue, so the European version has the edge here.

The DX Series

Some early GBC games had the word "DX" contained in their title to identify games that were being re-released in color with enhancements beyond colorization. R-Type DX, Tetris DX, Super Bombliss DX, Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX.  R-Type DX has an arrange mode and will also allow you to play R-Type I and II with GB graphics on the GBC in addition to the GBC-graphics supporting versions of these games.  Legend of Zelda adds support for the Game Boy Printer and a Color Dungeon when played on a GBC.  Tetris and Super Bombliss add new gameplay modes.  DX Monopoly GB and DX Jinsei Game are not included in the series.  DX Monopoly GB has no monochrome equivalent and DX Jinsei Game is too different from the monochrome Jinsei Game to be deemed a colorization.

Zelda is interesting because there are four different colorizations for the game.  The mono-only game has a special palette for the SGB (green/peach) and the GBC (green/pink).  The DX game has a slightly different palette (green/yellow) and a custom border for the SGB as well as its full colorization.  Nintendo did slightly update the monochrome graphics for the DX version, compare the trees in each.

Konami's Collections

In 1997 Konami released most of its older GB games in four multi-carts for the Japanese market.  They included borders for each game but only a basic SGB palette for each game.  Later in 1999-2000, Konami ported these multi-carts over to Europe for the GBC.  SGB support was eliminated but the colorization was far more impressive.  Curiously, they included "Probotector" in the Collection with human graphics.

The original European release of Probotector on GB used robot graphics.  Additionally, the version of Castlevania 2 on the European cart included the Axe and Cross subweapons, which was always the case for the Japanese game.  The original cartridge release in US and Europe gave you the Axe and Holy Water.  Ganbare Goemon: Sarawareta Ebisumaru! was never released as a standalone game outside Japan, unlike every other game in these Collections.  It was translated for Europe.  From these we can conclude that Konami used their Japanese versions and just changed title graphics when necessary.

Pokemon Pikachu

Is Pokemon Pikachu is a GB game or a GBC game?  Nintendo calls it a GB game, put it in a box with the "Game Boy" logo, used a Yellow cartridge but released it after the introduction of the GBC.  In terms of how the game uses the hardware, the game is really a GB/GBC hybrid, making it a GBC game.  The Japanese version was released a month before the GBC and it is definitely a GB game.  The GBC gives it a special red/yellow palette.

The non-Japanese versions follow the same colorization schemes whether played in an SGB or GBC.  Pokemon on the battle screens and menu screens have their own palettes, the life bars change color as they go down, and the background palette usually changes when you enter a new area.  The GBC does show a little more color during animated cutscenes and mini-games than the SGB.  Thus the colorization is not as extreme as with many other games.

Redrawing Graphics

Some colorizations do little more than assign colors to shades.  They are the video game equivalent of tinting black and white film.  Colorizations for the GBC can go further and redraw certain graphics in order to look better in color.  Certain B&W games had distinct outlines around characters, but their color versions go for a more solid look (Prince of Persia).  Other games add more detail to their graphics using color than could have been possible without it (Alfred Chicken).  Finally, there are games which appear to do more redrawing to their menus and title screens than their actual in-game graphics (Micro Machines).

Similar Game, but not a Colorization

You may observe that games like Lemmings were released for the GB and GBC, but I do not consider them to be colorizations.  GBC Lemmings completely redrew the graphics, changed the menus, the gameplay interface, uses different music and even the scrolling is no longer smooth.  Other games like Arcade Classic No. 4 - Defender & Joust, Arcade Classics - Battlezone & Super Breakout, Aladdin & Othello Millennium are too far removed from their monochrome releases to be deemed colorizations.

The List of Colorizations

Finally, what you are really reading this blog entry for?  😛  I have created a list of games which I deem colorized.  I have split the list into three general categories.  The first category are those games which were originally released solely for a monochrome Game Boy and later received some form of SGB support.  Games released with SGB support in their earliest public release do not count.  Colorization is about choices made after-the-fact.    The second category are games which were originally released as a monochrome GB game (with or without SGB support) and were later given a color re-release.  The final category of games are games where the SGB or the GBC bootstrap ROM detect the game and apply a custom palette to it.

Original Game Name Colorized Game Release Colorization Type Notes
Alfred Chicken (UE) Alfred’s Adventure (E) GBC
Asterix & Obelix (E) Asterix & Obelix (E) GBC
Atomic Punk (U)/Bomber Boy (J)/Dyna Blaster (E) Bomberman Selection (K) GBC
Balloon Kid (UE) Balloon Fight GB (J) GBC Balloon Fight GB (J) is a Nintendo Power Flash Cart Exclusive
Battleship (UE) Battleship (UE) GBC
Bomber Man GB (J) Bomberman Selection (K) GBC
Burai Senshi Deluxe (J)/Burai Fighter Deluxe (UE) Burai Senshi Color (J)/Space Marauder (U) GBC GBC Only, GB games will crash in GBC
Castlevania II - Belmont's Revenge (UE)/Dracula Densetsu II (J) Konami GB Collection Vol.4 (E) GBC
Castlevania: The Adventure (U) (E)/Dracula Densetsu (J) Konami GB Collection Vol.1 (E) GBC
Centipede (UE) (U) Centipede (U) GBC
Donkey Kong Land III (UE) Donkey Kong GB - Dinky Kong & Dixie Kong (J) GBC GBC Only
Dropzone (E) Dropzone (E) GBC
Frogger - Konami GB Collection Vol.4 (J) Frogger - Konami GB Collection Vol.2 (E) GBC (E) Has No SGB Enhancements
Frogger (U) Frogger (U) (E) GBC Majesco/Hasbro Version
Ganbare Goemon - Sarawareta Ebisumaru (J) Konami GB Collection Vol.3 (E) GBC
Guttang Gottong - Konami GB Collection Vol.2 (J) Guttang Gottong - Konami GB Collection Vol.3 (E) GBC (E) Has No SGB Enhancements
Harvest Moon GB (U)/Bokujou Monogatari GB (J) Harvest Moon GB (U) (E) (G) GBC RTC Support also Added
Hugo 2 (G) Hugo 2 1-2 (G) GBC
Kekkyoku Nankyoku Daibouken - Konami GB Collection Vol.3 (J) Antarctic Adventure – Konami GB Collection Vol.4 (E) GBC (E) Has No SGB Enhancements
Lamborghini: American Challenge (UE) Roadsters Trophy (U) (E) GBC
Legend of the River King GB (U) (A)/Kawa no Nushi Tsuri 3 (J) Legend of the River King GB (U) (E) (G) GBC
Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (UE) (FC) (F) (G)/Zelda no Densetsu - Yume o Miru Shima (J) Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (UE) (F) (G)/Zelda no Densetsu - Yume o Miru Shima DX (J) GBC
Maus, Die (E) Maus, Die (E) GBC
Megami Tensei Gaiden - Last Bible (J) Megami Tensei Gaiden - Last Bible GBC
Megami Tensei Gaiden - Last Bible II (J) Megami Tensei Gaiden - Last Bible II GBC
Micro Machines (UE) Micro Machines 1 and 2 - Twin Turbo (UE) GBC
Micro Machines 2 - Turbo Tournament (E) Micro Machines 1 and 2 - Twin Turbo (UE) GBC
Missile Command (UE) Missile Command (U) (E) GBC
Monopoly (J) (U) (E) Monopoly (J) (U) GBC (J) has SGB Enhancements
Montezuma's Return! (E) Montezuma's Return! (U) (E) GBC
Motocross Maniacs (J) (U) (E) Konami GB Collection Vol.3 (E) GBC
Mr. Nutz (E) Mr. Nutz (U) (E) GBC
Ms. Pac-Man (U) (E) Ms. Pac-Man Special Color Edition (U) (E) GBC (E) GBC has no SGB Enhancements
Nemesis (J) (U) (E) Konami GB Collection Vol.1 (E) GBC
Nemesis II (J) (E)/Gradius – The Interstellar Assault (U) Konami GB Collection Vol.4 (E) GBC
Operation C (U)/Contra (J)/Probotector (E) Konami GB Collection Vol.1 (E) GBC GBC has Probotector Title but Contra graphics
Pac-Man (J) (U) (E) Pac-Man Special Color Edition (U) (E) GBC (E) GBC has no SGB Enhancements
Parodius Da! (J)/Parodius (E) Konami GB Collection Vol.2 (E) GBC
Pocket Bomberman (J) (E) Pocket Bomberman (UE) GBC
Pocket Mahjong (J) Pocket Color Mahjong (J) GBC
Pocket Monsters Yellow (J) Pokemon Yellow (UE) (G) (F) (S) (I) GBC
Prince of Persia (J) (U) (E) Prince of Persia (U) (E) GBC
Quarth (J) (UE) Konami GB Collection Vol.2 (E) GBC
R-Type (J) (UE) R-Type DX(J) (UE) GBC
R-Type II (J) (E) R-Type DX(J) (UE) GBC
Reservoir Rat (E) Reservoir Rat (E) GBC
Rugrats Movie (U) Rugrats Movie (U) (E) GBC
Smurfs Nightmare (UE) Smurf’s Nightmare (E) GBC GBC Version originally released as a Black Cartridge
Spirit of F-1 (E)/F-1 Spirit (J)/World Circuit Series (U) Konami GB Collection Vol.1 (E) GBC
Super Breakout! (U) Super Breakout! (U) (E) GBC
Tetris (W) Tetris DX(W) GBC
Tetris Blast (U) (E)/Super Bombliss (J) Super Bombliss DX(J) GBC
Titus the Fox to Marrakech and Back (UE) Titus the Fox to Marrakech and Back (U) (E) GBC
Tom & Jerry (J) (UE) Tom & Jerry (UE) GBC
Track & Field (UE)/Konamic Sports in Barcelona (J) Konami GB Collection Vol.2 (E) GBC
Trump Collection GB (J) Pocket Color Trump (J) GBC
TwinBee Da!! (J)/Pop'n TwinBee (E) Konami GB Collection Vol.3 (E) GBC
Wario Land II (J) (UE) Wario Land II (UE) GBC
Yie Ar Kung Fu - Konami GB Collection Vol.3 (J) Yie Ar Kung Fu - Konami GB Collection Vol.4 (E) GBC (E) Has No SGB Enhancements
Alfred Chicken (UE) Alfred Chicken (J) SGB
Asteroids (UE) Arcade Classic No. 1 - Asteroids & Missile Command (UE) SGB
Atomic Punk (U)/Bomber Boy (J)/Dyna Blaster (E) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 5 (C) SGB
Bomber Boy (J) Bomberman Collection (J) SGB
Bomber Man GB (J) Bomberman Collection (J) SGB
Bonk’s Adventure (U) / GB Genjin (J) GB Genjin Collection (J) SGB
Bonk’s Adventure (U) / GB Genjin (J) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 5 (C) SGB
Bubble Bobble (J) (UE) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 2 (C) SGB
Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle (UE) Bugs Bunny Collection (J) SGB
Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2 (U) Bugs Bunny Collection (J) SGB
Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2 (U) Hugo (E) SGB
Castlevania II - Belmont's Revenge (UE)/Dracula Densetsu II (J) Konami GB Collection Vol.3 (J) SGB
Castlevania: The Adventure (U) (E)/Dracula Densetsu (J) Konami GB Collection Vol.1 (J) SGB
Centipede (UE) Arcade Classic No. 2 - Centipede & Millipede (UE) SGB
Chase H.Q. (J) (UE) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 2 (C) SGB
Daffy Duck (E) Daffy Duck (U) (J) SGB
Dig Dug (UE) Namco Gallery Vol.2 (J) SGB
Elevator Action (J) (UE) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 2 (C) SGB
Ganbare Goemon - Sarawareta Ebisumaru (J) Konami GB Collection Vol.2 (J) SGB
Ganso!! Yancha Maru (J) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 4 (C) SGB
GB Genjin Land - Viva! Chikkun Oukoku (J) GB Genjin Collection (J) SGB
Genki Bakuhatsu Ganbaruger (J) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 3 (C) SGB
Jantaku Boy (J) Namco Gallery Vol.3 (J) SGB
Lolo no Daibouken (J) Adventures of Lolo (E) SGB
Looney Tunes (J) (UE) Looney Tunes (U) (E) SGB
Milon no Meikyuu Kumikyoku (J)/Milon's Secret Castle (UE) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 5 (C) SGB
Miracle Adventure of Esparks (J) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 3 (C) SGB
Missile Command (UE) Arcade Classic No. 1 - Asteroids & Missile Command (UE) SGB
Momotarou Dengeki (J) Momotaro Collection (J) SGB
Momotarou Dengeki 2 (J) Momotaro Collection 2 (J) SGB
Momotarou Densetsu Gaiden (J) Momotaro Collection 2 (J) SGB
Motocross Maniacs (J) (U) (E) Konami GB Collection Vol.2 (J) SGB
Namco Classic (J) Namco Gallery Vol.1 (J) SGB
Nemesis (J) (U) (E) Konami GB Collection Vol.1 (J) SGB
Nemesis II (J) (E)/Gradius – The Interstellar Assault (U) Konami GB Collection Vol.3 (J) SGB
Operation C (U)/Contra (J)/Probotector (E) Konami GB Collection Vol.1 (J) SGB
Othello (J) (E) Othello World (J) SGB
Parodius Da! (J)/Parodius (E) Konami GB Collection Vol.4 (J) SGB
Quarth (J) (UE) Konami GB Collection Vol.4 (J) SGB
R-Type II (J) (E) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 4 (C) SGB
Sagaia (J) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 2 (C) SGB
Saigo no Nindou: Ninja Spirit (J) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 4 (C) SGB
Selection - Erabareshi Mono (J) Selection I & II (J) SGB
Selection II - Ankoku no Fuuin (J) Selection I & II (J) SGB
Shisenshou - Match-Mania (J) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 4 (C) SGB
Smurfs, The (E) Smurfs, The (UE) SGB
Space Invaders (J) Space Invaders (UE) SGB Also includes Super Nintendo Version
Spirit of F-1 (E)/F-1 Spirit (J)/World Circuit Series (U) Konami GB Collection Vol.1 (J) SGB
Super Chinese Land (J)/Ninja Boy (UE) Super Chinese Land 1.2.3' (J) SGB
Super Chinese Land 2 (J)/Ninja Boy 2 (UE) Super Chinese Land 1.2.3' (J) SGB
Super Momotarou Dentetsu II (J) Momotaro Collection (J) SGB
Takahashi Meijin no Bouken-jima II (J)/Adventure Island II (UE) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 5 (C) SGB
Tetris 2 (U) Tetris 2 (UE)/Tetris Flash (J) SGB
Tower of Druaga (J) Namco Gallery Vol.2 (J) SGB
Track & Field (UE)/Konamic Sports in Barcelona (J) Konami GB Collection Vol.4 (J) SGB
TwinBee Da!! (J)/Pop'n TwinBee (E) Konami GB Collection Vol.2 (J) SGB
Wetrix (E) Wetrix (J) SGB (J) has SGB Enhancements, (E) is GBC Only
Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh (J) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 3 (C) SGB
Zoids Densetsu (J) Mani 4-in-1 Vol. 3 (C) SGB

Games with GBC Built-in Palettes Versions without GBC Built-in Palettes
Adventures of Lolo (E) Lolo no Daibouken (J)
Alleyway (W)
Arcade Classic No. 1 - Asteroids & Missile Command (UE)
Arcade Classic No. 2 - Centipede & Millipede (UE)
Arcade Classic No. 3 - Galaga & Galaxian (U) Arcade Classic No. 3 - Galaga & Galaxian (E) / Galaga & Galaxian (J)
Arcade Classic No. 4 - Defender & Joust (UE)
Balloon Kid (UE)
Baseball (W)
Battle Arena Toshinden (U) Battle Arena Toshinden (E) / Nettou Toshinden (J)
Battletoads in Ragnarok's World (E) Battletoads in Ragnarok's World (U)
Boy and His Blob in the Rescue of Princess Blobette (E) Boy and His Blob in the Rescue of Princess Blobette (U) / Fushigi na Blobby - Princess Blob o Sukue! (J)
Chessmaster (E) Chessmaster (JU)
Donkey Kong (W)
Donkey Kong Land (UE)/Super Donkey Kong GB (J)
Donkey Kong Land 2 (UE)/Donkey Kong Land (J)
Donkey Kong Land III (UE)
Dr. Mario (W)
Dyna Blaster (E) Atomic Punk (U)/Bomber Boy (J)
F-1 Race (W)
Game & Watch Gallery (U) (E)/Game Boy Gallery (J)
Game Boy Camera Gold (U)/Pocket Camera (J) Game Boy Camera (UE)
Game Boy Gallery 
Game Boy Gallery 2 (A) (J)
Game Boy Wars (J)
Golf (W)
Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru (J)
Ken Griffey Jr. presents Major League Baseball (UE)
Kid Icarus - Of Myths and Monsters (UE)
Killer Instinct (UE)
King of Fighters '95 (U) King of Fighters '95 (E) / Nettou The King of Fighters '95 (J)
King of the Zoo (E) King of the Zoo (J)
Kirby's Block Ball (J) (UE)
Kirby's Dream Land (UE)/Hoshi no Kirby (J)
Kirby's Dream Land 2 (UE)/Hoshi no Kirby 2 (J)
Kirby's Pinball Land (UE)/Kirby’s Pinball (J)
Kirby's Star Stacker (UE)/Kirby no Kirakira Kids (J)
Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening (UE) (C) (F) (G)/Zelda no Densetsu - Yume o Miru Shima (J)
Magnetic Soccer (E)
Mario's Picross (J) (UE)
Mega Man - Dr. Wily's Revenge (E) Mega Man - Dr. Wily's Revenge (U) / Rockman World (J)
Mega Man II (E) Mega Man II (U) / Rockman World 2 (J)
Mega Man III (E) Mega Man III (U) / Rockman World 3 (J)
Metroid II - Return of Samus (W) 
Mole Mania (UE)/Moguranya (J)
Mystic Quest (E) (F) (G) Final Fantasy Adventure (U) / Seiken Densetsu (J)
Nigel Mansell's World Championship (E) Nigel Mansell's World Championship (U)
Nintendo World Cup (UE)
Othello (E) Othello (J)
Pac-in-Time (E) Pac-in-Time (J) (U)
Picross 2 (J)
Pinocchio (E) Pinocchio (U)
Play Action Football (U)
Pocket Bomberman (E)
Pocket Monsters Green (J)
Pocket Monsters Yellow (J)
Pokemon Blue (UE) (F) (G) (I) (S)/Pocket Monsters Blue (J)
Pokemon Red (UE) (F) (G) (I) (S)/Pocket Monsters Red (J)
Qix (W)
Radar Mission (J) (UE)
Soccer (E) Elite Soccer (U) / World Cup Striker (J)
Solar Striker (W)
Space Invaders (UE) Space Invaders (J)
Star Wars (UE) Star Wars (U) (E)
Street Fighter II (U) (UE) Street Fighter II (J)
Super Mario Land (W)
Super Mario Land 2 - 6 Golden Coins (UE)/Super Mario Land 2 - 6-tsu no Kinka (J)
Super R.C. Pro-Am (UE)
Tennis (W)
Tetris (J) (W)
Tetris 2 (UE)/Tetris Flash (J)
Tetris Attack (U) (UE)/Yoshi no Panepon (J)
Tetris Blast (UE) Super Bombliss (J)
Tetris Blast (UE)
Top Rank Tennis (U)/Top Ranking Tennis (E)
Toy Story (E) Toy Story (U)
Vegas Stakes  (UE)
Wario Blast Featuring Bomberman! (UE) Bomber Man GB (J)
Wario Land - Super Mario Land 3 (W)
Wario Land II (UE)
X (J)
Yakuman  (J)
Yoshi (U)/Mario & Yoshi (E)/Yoshi no Tamago (J)
Yoshi's Cookie (J) (UE)

Key = (W) - Worldwide Release, (J) - Japan, (U) - USA & Canada, (E) - Europe, (A) - Australia, (F) - France, (G) - Germany, (S) - Spain, (I) - Italy, (FC) - French Canada, (K) - South Korea, (C) - China

Yellow highlighted games have an SGB palette.  I may have missed a few colorizations, but I think this list is fairly complete.

I kept the images small, it makes it much easier to put them where I want.  Use the pixel art zoom plugin for Chrom at to be able to zoom using nearest-neighbor scaling.

Colorization Hacks

Because the Game Boy library has been dumped into digital data and emulators have existed for the Game Boy Color since games for the device were still being sold at retail, it should come as no surprise that some hackers have tried to colorize certain popular Game Boy games.  Most colorization hacks, however, are amateurish.

A professional Game Boy to Game Boy Color hack must do three things.  First, it must display a warning screen if the game does not support the monochrome Game Boy.  Second, there must be no color or tile glitches that a professional "DX-style" re-release would have avoided.  Third, they must work in a real Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance through a flash cart without user needing to modify the header.  Sadly, most of these hacks violate one or more of these rules.

The only hacks I have found that meet all three of the above rules, and thus in my opinion worth your time, are Super Mario Land 2 DX, and Pokemon Red (and Blue) Full Color Hack,  Even though it violates rule #1, the EJRTQ Colorization of Metroid II: Return of Samus, combined with EJRTQ Canon Samus Patch, give a proper, definitive DX-style colorization without all the glitchiness of previous Metroid II colorization hacks.  


  1. Well they feel like FIFA 2000 for Game Boy Color is a colorized version of FIFA Soccer '97 for the Game Boy, but they redrew the title screen, main menus and soundtrack (like with Micro Machines). I also felt V-Rally Edition '99 for Game Boy Color is a colorized version of V-Rally: Championship Edition for the Game Boy, so does Lucky Luke for Game Boy Color is a colorized version of Game Boy, and so does Madden NFL 2000 for Game Boy Color is a colorized version of Madden '97 for Game Boy (but like FIFA 2000 and Micro Machines, redrew the soundtrack, title screen and menus), so does Madden NFL 2001 for Game Boy Color looks like a colorized version of both Madden '95 and Madden '96 for Game Boy (they redrew the title screen, menus, logos, copyrights, etc.), but the music stayed the same. They also felt Mortal Kombat 4 for Game Boy Color looked like a colorized Mortal Kombat 3 for Game Boy, but they redrew some parts and replaced characters.

    They felt Rampart, Klax, Marble Madness and Paperboy for GBC are not colorizations of the originals for GB.

  2. I agree on V-Rally (the title screen doesn't even say '99, only the USA box) and Lucky Luke and I'd also like to add Soreike!! Kid: Go! Go! Kid (J) is a B&W version of Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 3 with replaced sprites. The other games you mentioned (MK 3-4 and the sports games), yeah that may be the case, but they are also sequels as well, so I don't think they belong on the list. Would have been the same thing if they didn't have color added (same graphics, new characters).

  3. I'm very surprised by how few original Game Boy games got the DX treatment (official or fan-made). I wound up here by searching for DX versions of the Mega Man GB games assuming SOMEONE would have colorized them all by now, but I suppose it's more complicated than I thought.

    1. Indeed, and it is much harder to do it right. I've seen many amateur-hour colorization hacks over the years.