Let's face it: as great as the Game Boy is, the screen has always been a pain in the neck for everybody. You had to contort yourself while randomly adjusting the contrast until you find the exact position where the source of light would be just right without it reflecting on the screen. Little did you know, but Nintendo was well aware of the problem even before its 1989 release, and after multiple internal tests, they realized that lime green would actually bring the best contrast with the LCD overlay. It was not ideal, but it was the best they could make to keep the system effective with an attractive price. The best solution, as history would eventually prove, would have been to have a backlit screen, but the short-lived Game Gear showed that this was way too energy-consuming at the time. Several years later, in 1996, the Game Boy Pocket would finally get rid of the infamous green screen in a Product Facelift attempt, while the backlit screen would be integrated to the Japan-only Game Boy Light in 1998.
Now that the history lesson is over, let's talk good old nostalgia! The Game Boy had some of the most awesome games of the time, even by arcade and console standards: Link's Awakening, Wario Land, Kirby's Dream Land, Tetris, and let's not forget the debut of the Pokémon juggernaut. Between that and the almost 120 millions units sold in a decade, let's say that it probably shaped the childhood of many 90's kids. Then decades passed, people grew up, technology advanced, and games became more and more impressive. But for some, something was lost in the process. In other words: "it was better before", a feeling that kick-started Retro Gaming and waves of Retraux games made for (and often by) this new—and yet old—audience.
But sometimes just making a game "pixelated" is not enough to tickle the nostalgia of the informed consumer. Then try this simple trick: make the game look like a good ol' Game Boy game simply by making it green! This artistic choice will not only save you the cost of a colorist, but also catch the eye of the aforementioned 90's Kid scrolling the app store in search of a "real game". The simple view of those shades of green will ensure him two things: it will be Simple, yet Awesome and Nintendo Hard. Obviously, this is not entirely true. Although games looking like that are often made by other retro-feeling seekers and might actually be really good, it does not make them automatically better (or any different for that matters) than its competitors.
Other developers use the Green Boy Color more sporadically: for examples, it could be used in Nintendo Hard bonus levels, Retraux Flashbacks (or even actual flashbacks for some Long-Runners), or maybe just as a Mythology Gag or homage in the grand scope of video game history, the monochromatic green considered as a Video Game equivalent of black and white cinema. In the end, it is still really amazing to see how much something as painful as this green screen was overshadowed by the quality of its system, and became something positive by association in the collective consciousness.
Sub-Trope of Retraux. Compare Deliberately Monochrome. Lime green is sometimes also used to reference Game & Watch games, as some of them had this screen color (though most were gray or yellow). An acceptable less common variant is the use of sepia tones, emulating the palette used when Game Boy games are played on the Game Boy Color and Advance, but watch out: it is more often a simple Monochrome Past setting than this. An even rarer occurrence is the use of one of the several GBC alternative palettesnote , the crimson one being the most popular. However, games using a black and white palette, even to evoke the Game Boy (like the retro level of Kirby's Adventure) do not apply here — though it was how it appeared on the Game Boy Pocket and also one of the GBC retro-palettes, it is not specific enough. And let's end with a quick mention of the less known and appreciated variation (let's call it its little hipster cousin) that is the use of a red and black palette. All hail the Virtual Boy!
See also Matrix Raining Code, inspired by the green font color used in some of the first models of computers, and Battle Zone 1980, a game which popularized the use of green Vectors to represent old-school games and computers. Those—as well as this trope—can have a Sickly Green Glow if they symbolize some kind of malevolent AI.
- The Super Game Boy comes with 32 default palettes, with 3-H being the usual green palette.
- In Oscar for SNES you can find a Game Boy power-up which makes most of the screen green.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas continues the Running Gag of featuring fake retro game console, this time with the "eXsorbeo", a rather... Freudian console with games like One Eye Monster War, Squirt, or Morning Missile Crises, the former also having a fake gameplay sequence with the signature green palette. The In-Universe "fansite" is still accessible here.
- The Poketch in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, a multifunction Gadget Watch displayed at all time on the bottom screen, has a pixelated greenish look. It is eventually possible to change the color, though.
- By default, Nintendo 3DS's Game Boy games for Virtual Console display a palette simulating the Game Boy Pocket screen. However, by holding the L and R buttons and pressing Y, you could get a green palette instead.
- One of the palettes that can be unlocked in Downwell, called "GBOY", invokes this by turning everything greyish-green. There's also the "VBOY" palette that turns everything black and red just like the infamous Virtual Boy did.
- Mutant Mudds: Some bonus levels called "G-Land" have a green filter over them. There also are "V-Land" levels with a Virtual Boy-esque black and red filter.
- Super Smash Bros.:
- The "Dream Land" stage from Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, which later returned for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate under the name "Dream Land GB", is a mashup of various levels from the original Kirby's Dream Land and has the classic green palette, the stage even being "played" inside a Game Boy. The Omega version of the stage gets rid of the Game Boy frame and of the "flatness", and is a true 2½D environment in monochromatic green.
- King Dedede and Mr. Game & Watch both have a GB lime green Palette Swap. Justified for both, as the former debuted on the Game Boynote and the latter was the pioneer of handheld consoles and occasionally had green screen as well.
- 2-bit Cowboy is an indie Retraux Action-Adventure game set in Western which uses the green Game Boy palette.
- Cthulhu Virtual Pet. The use of green is somewhat justified here.
- Although Gunman Clive's sepia tone is justified by its Western setting, the game is clearly an homage to old-school platformers, and the very few colors there are from the Game Boy Color's true palette. There is even an official and fully functional Game Boy port of the first level!
- The mobile game Stack has various and random limited palettes of color, but suspiciously uses the Game Boy green for his app icon.
- Timing Hero is a simple "dodge and attack" mobile game with a Game Boy aesthetic, from the pixelated green graphics to the chiptune music and sounds.
- Clones of games originally found on old Nokia mobile phones such as Snake often simulate a black-on-green background typical of backlit displays of the time, along with a skeuomorphic UI reminiscent of a Nokia 3310 or 5110.
- 2Pac Man uses the typical green Game Boy palette, though the colors are generally lighter.
- Alex The Allegator 4 uses pixelated graphics and four shades of green.
- Both Evoland games start with a greenish Game Boy aesthetic. The principle of the game is to wander through video game history, each upgrade literally upgrading the games graphics and mechanics, making the Game Boy period a Monochrome Past. In the second game, it is mostly used for Retraux Flashbacks.
- Fez has a Sewer area that's rendered in Game Boy green. And it's connected to a Foundry level rendered in the far less nostalgic Virtual Boy red-on-black palette.
- The GameBoy Jam is an event organized every year in which the contestants have to design a game in one week with the Game Boy resolution (160px x 144px) and only four colors. Although those colors are let to the appreciation of the developers, most of them use the green palette (with sepia in second and black and white and third).
- In chapter 6 of Gods Will Be Watching, several characters can be seen playing a holographic version of Pong with the distinctive green palette. The young Eddie is even playing it on a small portable device reminiscent of the Game Boy.
- The "Journey of the Prairie King" Game Within a Game in Stardew Valley. It uses a combination of multiple signature colors from the Game Boy: green, sepia, the crimson shade from the GBC internal emulator, and even a bit of old black and white at the end.
- One secret level of Super Meat Boy takes place in a sepia Game Boy Color, with the signature Game Boy "ting!" before the level.
- Super Smash Land is a Video Game Demake of the Super Smash Bros. series to make it look like if it was an actual Game Boy game, with two buttons gameplay and green graphics.
- In Tower Of Heaven, the use of monochromatic green is mostly an artistic choice used to evoke melancholia, coupled with a restrictive old-school gameplay.
- Although the sepia tone of the intro of Undertale might be a simple case of Monochrome Past, the general Retraux aesthetic of the game might indicate that it is an actual reference to the Game Boy Color graphics. One shot◊ in particular uses two of the GBC's specific palettes.