The story of the cancelled Game Boy Color-to-Dreamcast official connectivity solution

Yes, you read that right. Apparently, at the turn of the millennium, an ambitious “TV Adaptor” was planned for Game Boy Color, that would at allow it to communicate with the Sega Dreamcast via your TV screen. This was planned for release in 2000, just a couple of months before Sega would announce their departure from the console race, shocking the world.

Do you remember the English fan translation for the Japan exclusive Game Boy Color game “Sakura Wars GB: Go Forth, Young Cadet!”, which we wrote about last year when it released? You may recall that fan translation also restored some previously inaccessible content. That bonus content was meant to be unlocked by use of this “TV Adaptor”, in tandem with the Sega Dreamcast remake of the original Sakura Wars game. If that wasn’t odd enough, this was originally meant to work instead with Sakura Wars 3, rather than the remake of the original Sega Saturn game that started the Sakura Wars franchise. The fact remains that this TV adaptor was never released, or even advertised, meaning Sakura Wars GB’s bonus content is impossible to access through normal means, and until recently, the world was blissfully unaware of all this.

This news comes to us from Matt B., a member of the team that made the earlier mentioned fan translation of Sakura Wars GB. Through a series of translated interviews with members of development staff at Media Factory, who developed Sakura Wars GB (And, aside from game development, also worked on a lot of anime, including High School DxD, Made In Abyss, Slayers, Project A-Ko, and several Pokémon movies), he’s managed to piece together much of this TV adaptor’s story. In order for Sega to agree to publish Sakura Wars for GBC, Sega’s then-president and executive producer of the Sakura Wars series, Shouichiro Irimajiri, wanted an adapter developed to allow the game to connect to the Sega Dreamcast. Media Factory, who would eventually publish Sakura Wars GB instead of Sega, was owned by Marigul Management, a joint venture between Nintendo of Japan and Recruit Holdings, and had mostly assisted with development on Nintendo 64 games, so them developing this peripheral was not outside the realm of possibility.

This proposed adaptor was not meant to be a physical cable linking the two systems, like with the Neo-Geo Pocket Color-to-Dreamcast cable which did release. Rather, this was a scanner that would be attached to the side port on a GBC, normally used for the multiplayer link cable. This would scan the TV screen for special bar codes that would appear at certain points in the Sakura Wars Dreamcast remake, which would then unlock extra content in Sakura Wars GB. These bar codes were never removed from the game and still appear where they are intended to. However, as you know, the TV GB adaptor was never released and the option to activate it was removed from Sakura Wars GB, though it still sometimes appears when run on a Game Boy Color system. Nobody, aside from both games’ developers, knew what the bar codes from the Dreamcast game were or what they were meant to do, until it was revealed in an interview from the Sakura Wars Serenade tribute book, released in Japan in 2021, just the year before this writing. According to Sakura Wars series producer and Chief Producer on the Dreamcast remake, Noriyoshi Oba, while he isn’t sure why the TV adaptor was scrapped, he thinks it may have been Nintendo’s decision in the end.

According to patents for the TV adaptor, it was also planned to allow downloading of complex data to compatible GBC software, such as content updates and patches. These could’ve been sent from TVs or computer or arcade monitors from the internet or from other game hardware, potentially not even limited to Dreamcast. It would’ve worked with the same bar code method used with Sakura Wars.

It’s quite a fascinating history, and we would like to thank Matt B. for his diligent research on this and for personally bringing it to our attention. You can hear all the rest of it from him in his video on the GBC-Dreamcast adaptor on YouTube. If you like that, be sure to check out his Sakura Wars series retrospective videos as well, which includes Sakura Wars GB. 

It would certainly seem strange to have this release, especially knowing about how Sega and Nintendo locked horns in the 90s when Sega was still a console developer. It might’ve been even stranger if Sega were able to stay in the console race longer than they did. Alas, we may never know, but it is fun to speculate, so feel free to do so in the comments below.

Don’t forget, all the remaining bonus content that was meant to be unlocked via this adaptor remained in Sakura Wars GB’s code, and it is all finally made accessible with the fan translation through more manageable means, so give it a try.


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