Pokémon Concierge, the stop-motion animated series that launched on Netflix in December, is a total vibe. After spending time watching a lovely series about a Pokémon resort, I almost don’t want to go back to battling and training. I just want to hang out with all these little guys and take a neverending vacation. Unfortunately, that’s not the core of most Pokémon games, but it is nice to picture what a Pokémon Concierge video game could look like. Thankfully, we don’t have to imagine it, as some artists have already created a mock-up of it for the original Game Boy, though it’s unfortunately not a playable game.
The project started with some lovely pixel art from artist Brandon James Greer showing protagonist Haru alongside her Psyduck, bopping along with several other Pokémon at the resort where she works. This includes the shy little Pikachu who was the star of the series’ fourth episode, who is naturally hiding behind one of the pillars in the lobby. On its own, it’s a great little tribute to the show, as well as the series’ Game Boy roots. But once GB Studio Central, a website dedicated to the retro creation tool GB Studio, got a hold of the original file with Greer’s blessing, they got it running on Game Boy Color hardware.
GB Studio Central posted a lengthy thread about the iterative process of getting the scene running on the handheld. While the original file gave them tools to work with, development is never a simple “File, Save As” affair. There are a lot of interesting breakdowns on how the Game Boy’s hardware works, including its limited color range compared to even Greer’s initial piece, as well as its lower framerate output compared to the original animation. This was part of why it was challenging to get the Concierge resort and all its little friends on the device, but for more on that, definitely check out the thread going step by step through the process.
While it’s not quite the playable Pokémon resort management and social sim I’m dreaming of, it’s still a wonderful look at the tools GB Studio offers and how talented devs can recreate something within the confines of old tech. God, take me back to Haru’s resort. I want to be free of Palworld discourse and live there forever.