Nintendo sold 118.69 million examples of the Game Boy and Game Boy Color and 81.51 million units of the Game Boy Advance, making them some of the most popular pieces of gaming hardware on the planet. Today, I learned something about these handhelds that I never knew. In the 2000s, a special cart allowed these systems to function as diagnostic tools for certain Aprilia, Peugeot, and Suzuki scooters.

The equipment included a Game Boy Color or Game Boy Advance (depending on the year) with a cartridge with a wire coming out of it and a pair of cables. One of them attached to the engine control unit, and the other routed to the brake system.

With everything attached, the handheld gaming system became a fully functional diagnostic tool. The video above shows the engine speed, throttle position, and temperature functions. The system could also read and clear fault codes. Technicians could activate actuators to make sure that things like the ignition, injectors, and pumps were working electronically and mechanically.

Beyond diagnosing problems, the tool also could update the scooters' ECU. For example, the shop manual for this cart shows switching between Standard and Racing tunes for a 50cc engine.

 

Orbital developed these carts and offered an online update tool for improving them. Thus, it was possible to download new versions and load them from a cable connecting the Game Boy and a PC.

Though it might sound strange, using a Game Boy Color or Advance as a platform for a diagnostic tool seems like a fantastic idea. The only thing unique about this setup was the cart. So, a technician could use any handheld available. They were inexpensive and readily available, so finding one was easy.

These days, enthusiasts are willing to pay a premium for Oribital's scooter diagnostic carts. Game Boy fans want them to complete collections, while Aprilia, Peugeot, and Suzuki scooter owners hunt for them to work on their bikes. They aren't interchangeable between models, meaning these owners have to find the right one for their model, driving prices up.

Someone on a Game Boy forum asked $3,000 for a complete in-case Peugeot version. A 2007 post on an Aprilia forum showed someone paying 400 euros for one. Some folks even made their own cables for the device. The video below shows off the Aprilia and Suzuki versions of the cart.

So in addition to playing your favorite Pokémon games, just know Game Boys have also been used to keep scooters on the road. Fascinating. 

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