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Home / Hot Stuff / ModRetro Chromatic is the ultimate Game Boy tribute

ModRetro Chromatic is the ultimate Game Boy tribute

Updated for 2024, the ModRetro Chromatic adds some modern flourishes to the classic handheld

Yellow, green and pink ModRetro Chromatic handheld consoles

Back in 1998, when Hit Me Baby One More Time was on the radio every 20 minutes and N64 owners were playing tunes in Hyrule on Ocarina of Time, Nintendo launched the Game Boy Colour – and 26 years later the ModRetro Chromatic ($199/£160) is bringing it back.

The ModRetro describes the Chromatic as “the ultimate Game Boy-inspired device.” That’s not just empty hyperbole either, because the Chromatic has a colourful magnesium alloy chassis (you can choose from orange, green, pink, yellow, blue and black), with a 2.56in, sapphire crystal-covered IPS LCD screen that has the same resolution and pixel structure as the original. It can also pump out over 1000 nits of brightness, meaning you’ll still be able to see where to manoeuvre your Tetris blocks even when the sun’s shining.

If you’ve lost your copy of the iconic block-sorting game, don’t worry. The ModRetro Chromatic can play original Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges, so get trawling those car boot sales and Ebay listings for second-hand copies of Mario Tennis, but you’ll also get a new Tetris cartridge included. It’s a reimagined version of the game that’s been developed by ModRetro, with multiple game modes and colourful 8-bit graphics, but there are more remasters of other classics on the way and some new indie games available to buy from the website, too.

You also get a Link Cable in the box for multiplayer gaming, and just like the original it runs on standard AAA batteries, which should give you about 24 hours of gaming before they need changing or recharging. You can do the latter using the Chromatic’s USB-C port, but it also supports video, so you can hook it up to a computer and record your gameplay. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone socket, and for £40 you can even add a pair of similarly retro Koss Porta Pro headphones in the same colour as your Chromatic.

The name of the chap behind ModRetro might be familiar to VR fans. Palmer Luckey is best-known as the designer of the Oculus Rift, but he actually started out modding Game Boys as a teenager. After selling his VR headset business to Facebook in 2014, the sandal-wearing billionaire has decided to invest some of his fortune in building his ideal handheld (a far better use for it than the drones his defence technology company Anduril makes). 

Luckey says only enough Chromatics will be made to fulfil the pre-orders, so if like Aerosmith in 1998 you don’t want to miss a thing, you can’t afford to hang around.

Profile image of Tom Wiggins Tom Wiggins Contributor


Stuff's second Tom has been writing for the magazine and website since 2006, when smartphones were only for massive nerds and you could say “Alexa” out loud without a robot answering. Over the years he’s written about everything from MP3s to NFTs, played FIFA with Trent Alexander-Arnold, and amassed a really quite impressive collection of USB sticks.

Areas of expertise

A bit of everything but definitely not cameras.