Playable Quotes for Game Boy

This project offers the ability to create and share playable quotes of Game Boy games. A playable quote is a self-contained slice of an original creative work that points to a specific moment in the space of play along with a reference performance of how that moment can play out. The reader of a quote can replay their own variations on the quoted moment to see how the game responds.

For a deeper understanding of playable quotes (including the key properties of being playable, partitioned, permanent, performative), check out our award-winning paper Playable Quotes for Game Boy Games, presented at the 2023 Foundations of Digital Games Conference.


Quotes can allow players to share exciting moments and play styles from their favorite games, they can allow game publishers to tease content available in full games, and they can allow critics and educators to make convincing comparisons within and across the many moments in past games. These examples quote Game Boy games to illustrate potential use cases for playable quotes. Everything needed to reproduce each quote is contained within the .png files seen here.

Joël also wrote a blog post on How We Made Playable Quotes for the Game Boy, which has detailed account of this project.

Tetris without Tetris
Taste the core gameplay of Tetris. You can clear a few lines at a time, but you can't have the satisfaction of completing a Tetris (clearing 4 lines at once) because that's not included in the quote.
Raccoon Encounter
Relive that moment in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awaking where you first encounter the Raccoon in the Mysterious Forrest. This was a very memorable moment for Joël and his brother.
Alpha Testing
Practice your technique in the first boss battle of Metroid II: Return of Samus. You can refill your energy and missles when you are done, but you can't leave the room.
Get the Gurdy
NPCs in Icon of the Hurdy-Gurdy really want to grab a certain MacGuffin in this procedurally generated Game Boy game.


To record a new quote, you need access to a full game (typically a .gb or .gbc file). Try playing these freely licensed, homebrew games:

License: MIT
Tuff by BonsaiDen is based on a mix of Jump'n'Run and Metroidvania style game elements. We used Tuff extensively during the development of this project. The precise timing needed for certain jumps in this game shows that we don't have perfectly precise replays yet.
License: GPL v3+
µCity by AntonioND/SkyLyrac is a city-building game. By sharing playble quotes (and using the original game to unlock play from the moments they reference), you might argue with a friend on the best way to manage your shared city.
Soul Void
License: unspecified public license
Soul Void by Kadabura is a 1-2 hour interactive horror fiction. The game has a screenshots-and-text walkthrough that might be enriched with playable quotes.
License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
The role-playing game Infinity was primarily developed by Affinix Software before being cancelled, but Incube8 Games is attempting to resurrect it. Playable quotes might help to preserve cancelled games or tease in-progress development efforts.

Find more homebrew games at the Game Boy Homebrew Hub.

If you prefer, start with a blank canvas.

What's in a Quote File?

The .png quote files used in this project also contain a .zip file. We chose PNG because it's a familiar file format that people already know is easy to share online.

The ZIP inside of the PNG contains a copy of the original game's ROM image with almost all entries (except those needed to play the quote) masked out. It also contains a state snapshot from our specially-prepared Game Boy emulator along with a list of timed actions needed to (approximately) reproduce the recorded gameplay. The ZIP file is steganographically encoded in the least significant bits of the image pixel data (8 bits per pixel) so that it is difficult for the information about the ROM and savestate to become detached from the screenshot.

But how do we know just which parts of the game to slice out in order to make a playable quote? You can read all the details in our post How We Made Playable Quotes for the Game Boy.

You can also check out the project source on Glitch:

Insert ROM to Continue

If you happen to have access to the original game associated with a given playable quote, you can load/drop the .gb/.gbc onto the quote player to resume unrestricted play from the moment captured in the quote. From there, you can record and share new quotes. Use this feature to re-record improvements on the gameplay in the original quote, share your progress in the game with a friend, or requests someone else's help getting through a difficult part of a game that you both play.

Help Needed



See also

From the Presupposition of Doom to the Manifestation of Code: Using Emulated Citation in the Study of Games and Cultural Software (Kaltman, Osborn, and Wardrip-Fruin in Digital Humanities Quarterly 2021)


  title={Playable Quotes for Game Boy Games},
  author={Franusic, Jo\"{e}l and Tuite, Kathleen and Smith, Adam M.},
  booktitle={The 18th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG)},