Former Nintendo Employee Discusses The Cancelled Successor To The Game Boy Advance

While the Game Boy brand has been with Nintendo since 1989, it has been mostly dormant since the release of the DS in 2004. However, it seems that wasn’t always the plan. In an interview with Retro Gamer, Satoru Okada talked about his 41 years working for the Nintendo and his involvement with the Game Boy line. According to the former manager, they were originally working on a direct successor to the Game Boy Advance back in 2003. Dubbed IRIS, the console would have been the fifth generation of the Game Boy. However, it seems plans shifted when Yamauchi came to them with the idea for a two screen handheld. While initially disliked by both Okada and his colleague Satoru Iwata, this concept would go on to replace the Game Boy line altogether. Check out a few segments from the interview here.

“Actually, after the SP, we were working on the newest model in this range. The code name for this new Game Boy was IRIS, like the flower. The explanation for this name is simple: since it was for us the fifth generation of Game Boy, we chose the symbol of May (the fifth month of the year). In the Hanafuda playing cards, the month of May is symbolized by the iris. The project was moving forward at a good pace but during the development, something at unexpected happened. President Iwata then came to see me. He was obviously bothered and he said: ‘l talked to Yamauchi-san over the phone and he thinks your console should have two screens… A bit like the multi-screen Game & Watch, you see?’ Everybody is aware of this, but what people do not know is that at the time, everybody hated this idea, even Iwata himself. We thought it did not make any sense.”



  1. As great as the DS line of systems are, I find it a bit sad that the Game Boy name was completely forgotten. It would be cool if Nintendo made a successor to the 3DS with the Game Boy name in it. Then again, a name is just a name. I always thought of the DS as an evolved Game Boy.
    Wow! My first comment of 2017. Happy New Year everybody!

    1. Imagine the outcry today if they released a new handheld with “boy” in its name. I don’t think it would fly, unfortunately.

          1. The president of Nintendo said the Switch is not replacing the 3DS and that they are making a separate successor to the 3DS that they will announce at a later date. This is the same Nintendo who in 2010 said they would not make a new iteration to the 3DS except for maybe a XL model with the only difference being size, and what happen from June 2010 to August 2012, the 3DS XL got released. Same Nintendo who said e3 2016 will focus on Zelda, and several months later thats what happened.

              1. When asked if Switch would replace 3DS, the official response was a statement of getting a separate successor they will announce at a later date. Nintendo’s own words.

                    1. You’re gonna have to do better than that. I’ve seen that before. The “source” is a random representative and it even says the source is very vague.

                  1. Nintendo has been working on a handheld that makes you feel hot, cold, soft, rough and specific textures and so fort. It was going to be a peripheral for 3DS & Wii U, but got repurpose for next gen. Theres a reason the new 3DS got duo analogs & 4 shoulder buttons. There use to be website called which is where I got info on stuff like that and the 2 gameped controllers Wii U games that got cancelled for a future duo screen console that can do 4 gamepad controllers at once. During the start of 2015 Nintendo decided to come up with a mid-gen console that wasn’t neither Home Console nor Handheld, and they thought of the Switch. Not sure if have to wait for Switch Successor to see Wii U successor or if they release it in 2019 or 2020, depends if they cancel home console department or not. 4D is something Nintendo has in the works. Iwata talk about 4 architectures when there was only 2 (home & handheld) back in 2015, now they have added mobile with Dena & Niantic and added Omni/Hybrid with Swith, but might have gotten rid of Home.

                    1. I still don’t see a need for a handheld when they have a hybrid. Nintendo has said they wish to do away with game droughts. The best way to do that is focus on one console.

                    2. And third partys like to release games less often than they have in the past many many years. Both Nintendo and 3rd parties have teamed up to fill each others gaps. Nintendo has always planned on using 3rd parties to fill in the gaps. And now 3rd parties are at a point where they want to produce less games, so this is the perfect time for both of them. The DS was backwards compatible with GBA, where as the Wii was backwards compatible with the GameCube, but the Switch which uses cartridges is not backwards compatible with the 3DS nor Wii U. You can always tell Nintendo’s intentions with their systems. I think Nintendo might even be crazy enough to make a Wii U successor. The Switch successor will utilize dual screens once the technology is there, and the controller will be one screen that flips into 2, and you will be able to take the controller with you on the go. Nintendo has a 15 or so years plan.

    2. i call it the Game Boy 3D. the DS and 3DS family are still technically Game Boys as they are handhelds, what i don’t get is why the 3DS does not have GBA games on the 3DS VC other than the Ambassador games, i’m ok with Wii U having GBA games but 3DS needs love, at least have GBA games on the ‘new’ 3DS.

      1. I agree, if the New 3DS can handle Super NES games, then why not GBA? Or as you mentioned, the original 3DS could handle GBA ports, so why not do it properly for everyone?

  2. Gameboy Micro came out the same time as the DS and everyone was amazed at the double screens touch screens(Before smart phones) and overall better graphics… seriously compare SM64DS with any GBA game

  3. One of my uni buddies is working on something huge it’s portable but will play every retro title out there on one machine but so far he’s got ps1,ps2 and the snes and nes so far but still far from complete. I’ll post more once there’s more news

      1. Ok, but try taking that out on a bus full of hooded youths ? Then get back to me if you still have it?

      1. well not really rasberry pi for everything mostly the retro parts as for the others he wont say anything

  4. I would love to see a budget handheld arrive sometime closer to 2020 with the Gameboy branding on it. Launch @ $99.99 and play mobile to smaller budget titles. As long as there is clear delineation from the Switch line, I don’t see a problem with that at all. Kind of aim the new Gameboy at the NES Classic crowd.

  5. The DS’s dual screens were especially useful for the touch screen functionality, some games would probably be way too tedious with my hand blocking the screen while playing with just a single screen.

  6. But too be honest i think nintendo needs to continue the Ds line. Make the next one called HDS. Plays games in HD with duel screens. Plays all 3ds games in 2d but upscales them to Hd. I just dont was duel screen gaming to die

    1. I think they’ll focus on 4D and far greater graphics then PS3, and 1.08 billion colors per screen. The 3D takes less then 1% of original 3DS hardware power, but “circle pad pro” add-on takes up 5% of the hardware power according to Smash bros director. I’ve seen movies in 4D and will never go to theaters for anything less, ever again.

        1. I’m from Los Angeles. We have 4D in theaters. Only 2 that I know of, one in Baldwin Hills for 4D (recent 4D movies are Assassin’s Creed and Star Wars) and 4DX in Downtown Los Angeles by Staples Center.

  7. The president of Nintendo said the Switch is not replacing the 3DS and that they are making a separate successor to the 3DS that they will announce at a later date. This is the same Nintendo who in 2010 said they would not make a new iteration to the 3DS except for maybe a XL model with the only difference being size, and what happen from June 2010 to August 2012, the 3DS XL got released. Same Nintendo who said e3 2016 will focus on Zelda, and several months later thats what happened.

  8. I’ll never forget when the DS first came out and I saw that it could run Mario 64. N64 quality games on a handheld… I couldn’t believe it. Even now, playing Majora’s Mask on 3DS makes me smile so hard.

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  10. Uh oh! Looks like we’ve got ourselves a spaaaaaaaaaammer!! :-/

    But aside from “her”, a few things from reading through the comments:

    1) I’m VERY suspicious of the idea of a separate replacement to the 3DS. I struggle immensely with seeing how it makes any sense at all to have both a console/portable hybrid (Switch) -AND- a dedicated portable in the lineup at the same time. First of all, even though the Switch is so much MORE than a portable, it is nothing LESS than a portable, and as such it would at some level become a direct competitor to its own stablemate.

    Also, the rumor mills currently paint at least two different pictures of the Switch hardware: the maximized presentation puts performance in about the same league as the XB1, while the minimized presentation makes us question whether it’ll even be as powerful as the WiiU it’s replacing.

    If the Switch is supposed to “play the console role” in this alleged future of a two-device product family, then while I admit that hardware might isn’t EVERYTHING, I also maintain that it isn’t NOTHING either, and in this context, the maximized Switch hardware rumors would paint a picture that is at least a little bit disappointing, while the minimized Switch hardware rumors, rumors that I’m quite sad to say are sounding the more plausible of the two, would paint a picture that is simply inexcusable, or at least borderline so.

    If the Switch’s hardware is not up to the task of being taken seriously as a console on the one hand, falling even further behind the competition in at best a relative sense, and at worst, a literal one as well, and if the Switch’s properties as a portable are going to be quickly made irrelevant by a pure portable coming right around the corner on the other hand, then what purpose does the Switch serve at all? It makes absolutely no sense.

    The only way I can make any sense out of it is just as a stop-gap, and either a non-hybrid console is coming later, or they just leave the traditional console business behind altogether, which would be heartbreaking. Such a move would at least explain the existence of the Switch. But first you’d have to explain such a move itself in the first place – which I cannot.

    Just four years after the WiiU launch, a system that most would say was not much of a market success, another system comes out at a low point in consumer confidence that is [possibly going to be] shockingly underpowered, and with a planned obsolescence much shorter than your average console life cycle – a weird console/portable hybrid running glorified tablet hardware that will quickly be cannibalized on the portable side, and then either quickly cannibalized on the console side as well, or not cannibalized, but left to rot on the vine of an abandoned branch.

    I just can’t make any good sense of such a supposed move at all, and hope against hope that the ones questioning the validity of the source are the ones who are right. Though still disappointed in even the most optimal potential versions of the hardware, the only way I can see the Switch really being good, and being good for Nintendo is if it’s the everything for the foreseeable future, replacing the WiiU immediately, and the 3DS eventually.

    One tremendous benefit of the “Switch-as-everything” model is that it eliminates bifurcated software libraries, and puts it all under one umbrella. That’s incredibly convenient to software developers and consumers alike. It also prevents a situation like WiiU/3DS, where one flounders and one thrives.

    2) I saw one comment that hinted at the cancelled “GameBoy IRIS” being a system that met or beat N64 spec. But does anyone have any further details on the specs, and/or any renders of the system, and/or any software under development? I would love to see all that! Also, since the description of this system’s performance seems to put it in the same rough ballpark as original DS spec, does anyone know whether this cancelled system was going to be more powerful or less powerful than what we ended up getting, and how so / how much so?

    3) I don’t like talking politics, and don’t want to go too far down this road, but as one who’s pretty centrist, as one who likes to say that I “would be a tremendous disappointment to both my conservative and my progressive friends”, while I’m all for the equality of men and women, I see this whole “GameBoy / GameGirl” naming stuff as absolutely NOTHING more than the fruits of political correctness run completely amok and would be ardently opposed to naming it the GameGirl simply on the grounds of it enshrining the hyper-politicizing of everything. However, that we’re trying to hyper-politicize it just reinforces my belief that we make a tremendous mistake to attempt to treat the terms “progressive” and “liberal” as synonymous, and in fact, the belief that progressivism is every bit as “illiberal” as conservatism, in which construct I self-identify as a “liberal”.


    1. People are just joking about gamegirl, but when I was a kid I did wonder that once or twice. The Xbox One does pseudo unreal engine 4, puts it in the same league as the Wii U. The Switch does true Unreal Engine 4 & havok & frostbite & open GL & Vulkan which the PS4 can’t handle. Not sure if PS4 Pro can handle. Cartridges do as much as disc with half the specs, and nvidia does as much as AMD with half the coding. If the Switch has more than 25% the hardware power as the PS4 Pro, then the Switch has better graphics then the ps4 pro. As for 3DS successor, it will be a dedicated 4D gaming system, offering a 4D experience. The Switch will double as a VR system, if Nintendo makes it better than current VR games, because PS VR games suck.

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