It might be slow and buggy, but it is Pokemon, and it’s playable on an Apple Watch. iOS developer Gabriel O’Flaherty-Chan has created a working Game Boy and Game Boy Color emulator on Apple Watch Series 2.
O’Flaherty-Chan calls the emulator, named Giovanni after his favorite villain in Pokemon Yellow, a prototype. He says it is “surprisingly usable.”
“One of the big challenges was to find the right balance between frame rate and performance. As you can see, it’s a bit sluggish and unresponsive, but as a prototype, I think it answers the question of is this possible?” he said in a blog post detailing Giovanni’s development.
O’Flaherty-Chan used the existing Game Boy Color emulator Gambatte to build the Apple Watch version. For controls, he makes full use of the Watch’s touchscreen: you swipe on the screen to move in that direction and tap in different places to hit the A, B, Start, and Select buttons. The digital crown helps you navigate menus and choose commands.
“Ironically, I’ve only ever played the game on an emulator, as growing up I didn’t have access to the real deal. In a way, I feel this is my way of giving back to the community,” said O’Flaherty-Chan.
O’Flaherty-Chan said creating the emulator came with substantial challenges due to WatchOS’ lack of support for certain development tools. Of course, Apple has never allowed emulators on its products and would likely never put an app like this on the App Store.
O’Flaherty-Chan has made the source code available for free online. There’s been no response from Nintendo at this point, although last year the company’s legal team shut down two fan-made Pokemon games for PC.