After my last article I decided to pull out all of my screen magnifiers and give them a run through, to see if they were truly as horrible as I remember them being. Now I’m not knocking their ability to magnify the screen, I’m actually complaining about their wildly varying and not so useful attempts to light up the Game Boy screen. No matter how well they do magnify the screen, they simply can’t add enough light, or do it in a proper manner, to make the screen look good in the dark.
To start this off right I will state at this point every single one of the four magnifiers I currently own have had to be repaired. The two Performance brand magnifiers were easy fixes as they used extremely cheap wires that snapped, but left me enough wire to do a quick resolder. The Light Boy, however is quite well built, inside and out, but the manner in which they used to transfer power needed a good steel wool rub down. The High Frequency for the Game Boy Color needs a complete rewiring, as it suffers from the same problem as the Performance brand, yet they didn’t give me enough wire to just strip and resolder.
Another issue that these magnifiers suffer from is quite visible in the High Frequency below, scratches! Over the years these things gather scratches as if it were dust, but for the most part they don’t bother me as much as scratches on the Game Boy (or in this case Game Boy Color) screen itself. The High Frequency magnifier does a good enough job, but as I stated above it still needs repaired, so I can’t critique its lighting system. But I will say that it only requires two AAA batteries, making it light and comfortable to use with the Game Boy Color.
Next up is the cheapest of my two Performance brand magnifiers and even after repairs this thing doesn’t work right. This poor thing screams super cheap, starting with the way they branded their name on the front and finishing with the junk wires and switch inside. Again the screen magnifier does well but the LEDS are fairly dim, when they decide to actually work. Powered by two AA batteries, which are often hard to insert or remove, this one balances well on the Game Boy.
Now this one has been mine since its purchase; I remember opening it on Christmas morning with my Game Boy and quickly shoving it aside. The lens of this one is noticeably bigger than all the rest and the LEDs give off a decent amount of light. Again, powered by two AA batteries this one also balances quite well, my favorite of them all.
And finally we reach the officially licensed Light Boy, from Vic Tokai. This one was a bit of a pain to get working, but it didn’t require any soldering as this unit doesn’t even have wires. “But how does it work without wires? SORCERY!!”. No, the real answer is that they used a clever series of copper strips connected in such a way that it made an electrical circuit. The issue there is that over time the copper strips had oxidized and turned green, but the real issue was popping this thing open when it was secured from the inside like a Famicom cartridge!
After painstakingly popping the unit open and giving all the key points a good steel wool scrubbing, I slapped in the batteries and it came to life. The magnifier, again, works as to be expected and the LEDs aren’t very bright, but my main issue is with the H.R. Giger’s Alien look to the unit. Unlike the other 3 magnifiers this one has the batteries (again two AA) hanging off the back of the Game Boy, throwing the balance of the whole system off. Its only a minor complaint while actually playing, but if you need to sit the Game Boy down it never looks comfortable.
So there you have it, my quick review of the screen magnifiers I own. All of them do a good job of magnifying the screen, but none of them do an adequate job of lighting the screen, atleast not to my liking. If you need a screen magnifier I would suggest any you can find, with minimal scratches of course. If you’re in need of a decent way to light your screen while also using a screen magnifier you may want to track down a NUBY Game Light Plus, or modify your Game Boy with a backlight kit.
About the author
Samuel Floyd first fell into video gaming with the Atari 2600...in the mid-90s! Always late into the system wars, Samuel enjoys that as he acquires them when they're cheap and the hot titles of yesteryear are bountiful. Samuel loves RPGs, his favorite being Crystalis for the NES.