Review: GRID Game Boy Frame – The Right Way to Display Retro Hardware

Grid Studios turn retro hardware into ART

With the recent release of the new Mario Brothers Movie (Starring Chris Pratt? – Yeah that baffled me too) and the new AppleTV movie about the history of the iconic game Tetris, it’s no surprise that Nintendo fans are buzzing with excitement.

I still vividly remember buying my first Gameboy many years ago. I bought it when my willpower finally gave out while waiting for a delayed flight to L.A. I realised right then that I had in my sweaty hands the doorway to hours of entertainment. Of course, I had to buy a Tetris cartridge because all the Gameboys on sale were strangely bundled with Donkey Kong Country. I still own that Gameboy (minus the battery cover) and seeing it always brings back fond memories of a bygone era when I could lose myself for hours, deep in 8-bit monochrome adventures and when the idea of carrying around a fully-fledged computing monster in your pocket was a weird cyber-punk fever dream.

These days the retro computing/gaming scene is going from strength to strength and old devices are much sought after and preserved almost as works of a lost art form. As much as their industrial designs are often now regarded as timeless classics, their internal components take us back to an era when miniaturisation hadn’t quite progressed to the microscopic details of today and components were understandable, accessible and user-repairable.

To celebrate this interaction of form and function, Grid has created a collection of ‘exploded’, deconstructed devices ranging from mobile phones to game consoles and has graciously sent us a box frame from their Gameboy line of products; the original 1989, thick, tactile, beige Nintendo Gameboy.

Before even seeing the frame itself I was blown away by the packaging. Arriving in a plain cardboard box, I was unprepared for what was inside. A ribbon-tied matte black paper wrapping with gloss varnish repeat patterns and a wax seal? If you’re buying this as a gift for the console enthusiast in your life, they will owe you big time. :-)

Rip all that off and you’ll find a lovingly laid out, exploded Gameboy, all the components organised in a clear, precise manner showing where they would fit in relation to everything else. If you’ve ever wanted to see what makes your favourite games happen, this is your chance!

The backing paper is a sharp white with retro-styled designed line-work and typography, strongly reminiscent of gaming magazines and advertising of the era. The typography is perfectly apt for the device and the layout is scattered with references to 80’s style gaming motifs and small, sharp, graphical details from the Tetris game which did so much to sell Gameboys beyond the junior audience.

The black sprayed wooden frame is lightweight enough to allow you to hang it or place it on a shelf with no weight worries but looks classy and restrained enough to let the subject matter shine through and perfectly sets off the design. I would say it’s minimalist but you won’t be looking at the frame anyway!

Surprisingly, though lightweight, the frame feels sturdy and appears well made once you secure the rotating attachments to keep the Gameboy in place, it is completely solid. The frame comes with four mounting points to the back plate which gives you options to mount it securely to any wall, and it even includes a template to help you align it perfectly. To be honest the one I’ve been sent hasn’t been hung up anywhere yet because it’s sitting on my desk and it’s just a nice thing to look at…

Now, just in case you have a nagging doubt in your mind that these devices should be in people’s hands and not on walls, we have been assured that no working Gameboys were harmed in the manufacture of these frames!

As much as I would like to see old hardware being played with, I am also alarmingly aware that the original components were never designed to last 30-plus years with capacitors failing and many constituent parts now seemingly reverting back to sand, I have no qualms about recommending Grid’s actions.

The Grid Studio Nintendo Gameboy frame is a great addition to any gaming setup, retro-themed room, or in fact, any space on your wall. It truly is a work of art and provides a stylish way to display your favorite console.

Any gamer or enthusiast would be more than happy to receive this as a gift or why not just get one for yourself? Whether you’re a long-time Nintendo fan or just getting into classic gaming, the Grid Gameboy frame is definitely worth checking out. 

You can see Grid’s whole range of exploded Nintendo consoles here. Or check out the entire range of devices here.


About Author
Born into a family of restauranteurs, Ricardo Pirroni didn't want to join the family business. His talents extended beyond the kitchen and he has spent the last 20 years honing his skills in various creative pursuits. From making things from scratch, 3d sculpting, drawing, designing graphics, art directing to brainstorming concepts. His work is not only functional, but also thought-provoking and entertaining. In addition to being a recognised authority on cake, his diverse range of talents and love of all things tech, makes him a versatile writer, capable of crafting stories that are both engaging and visually compelling.