Interested in learning more about the the original Game Boy or Game Boy Color? Excellent! This section will guide you through the basics, starting from basic assembly language all the way to reverse engineering your first game!
When it comes to finding a game to reverse engineer it can be helpful to look at games that are cross-platform to compare builds. But the most valuable reverse engineering projects tend to be the platform exclusives as these are games people can no longer play on modern consoles.
The Game Boy has a variant of the Zilog Z80 processor, well technically it is a CPU between the
i8080 and the Z80, it is not binary compatible with either but there are similarities. You need a assembler that can handle the Game Boy specific opcodes in order to write functional code for the Game Boy in assembly language.
Every game produced for the Game Boy required a little piece of code known as the “bootloader” or boot code to initialise the state of the console. You don’t have to know anything about this, but it can be fascinating to find out what the Game Boy does as soon as you hit that power button.
There have been a few very successful reverse engineering projects for the Game Boy, one of the most successful is the Pokemon dissassembly which managed to reverse engineer the entire game into a rebuildable ROM!
The Pokemon Reverse Engineering Team (PRET) have managed to pull off a marvellous achievement, they have fully reverse engineered Pokemon Red and Blue back into retail-matching assembly code.
In August 2016 the website KZone started a full disassembly of the classic Game Boy game Link’s Awakening, along the way they have written some excellent in-depth articles about how the game works. Check it out!
The source code for the Game Boy classic
Mr Do! has been kindly released by two of the original game developers and can provide an excellent reference for how retail Game Boy games were developed in 1990!
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