Gameboy (DMG & GBC) Development Kit Hardware

Edit on Github | Updated: 11 November 2019

This post covers all the official hardware developers used to create games for the Gameboy (DMG) and Gameboy Color and some were even used for early Gameboy Advance development.

This post is split into a number of different sections:

  • Programming Tools
  • Presentation/Demo Tools
  • Cartridge Tools

Programming Tools

The Official programming development kit for the Gameboy consisted of the Debugger (US$4000) and the Emulator/ICE (US$3000) which were both developed by the Nintendo owned company called Intelligent Systems 1.

They both connect to a developer workstation such as an IBM-PC via the SCSI port and offer a few software tools for communication between the IBM-PC and the Intelligent systems hardware.

DMG-ICE (Debugger + Emulator)

The Integrated Circuit Emulator or ICE was developed for the original Gameboy (DMG) and allowed developers to debug issues effecting their games, set breakpoints and inspect memory. This is also known as the Program development system but information on eactly how it was used is sparse.

IS-CGB-EMU (Emulator)

The IS-CGB-EMU (Intelligent Systems Colour GameBoy Emulator) was hardware that allowed developers to download their games to try on the actual hardware and even communication between an IBM-PC and the gameboy hardware itself to execute and check operations. Developers that bought this would also be given discs with the Inteligent Systems Assembler/Linker and other software development tools.

The Later units also had support for the AGB (Advanced GameBoy or Gameboy Advance) built into the hardware.


The Color Gameboy debugger hardware was similar to the DMG-ICE in that it allowed fully fledged debugging capabilities such as breakpoints, stack traces and memory modification.

DMG-CAD (Gameboy tile/sprite editing hardware)

The DMG-CAD (Character Development System) allowed designers/artists to preview pixel art on the gameboy hardware without using the more programmer specific hardware such as the DMG-ICE. Not much information is known about it other than a brief mention on the Intelligent systems website back in 1998. There is also the IS-CGB-CHARACTER which is a similar system but updated for the Gameboy Color.

Presentation/Demo Tools

Demonstration tools are hardware that allowed pulishers or the press to present gameboy games on a larger screen, useful for demos and to create screenshots for magazines.

Demo Boy II

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DMG/Famicom Wide Boy

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Cartridge Tools

Gameboy Cartridge tools are used to write to writable cartridges known as flash carts or to check the cartridges for problems.


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Duck (Dmg Universal ChecKer)

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GameBoy DEV Port

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GameBoy Tester Unit

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