Glucoboy (found children's glucose meter with built-in Game Boy Advance game; 2007)
An original model Game Boy Advance with a Glucoboy attached.
Date found: 31 May 2023
Found by: Video Game History Foundation
The Glucoboy was a Game Boy Advance peripheral with an integrated game cartridge initially developed by Guidance Interactive Technologies and released in 2007.
The peripheral was the brainchild of inventor Paul Wessel, who came up with the concept in the early 2000s following frustrations over his diabetic son intentionally misplacing his glucose meter; he thought that interfacing a glucose meter with a video game console would encourage diabetic children to check their blood sugar levels frequently (a process involving pricking one's fingers with a lancet which could upset some youngsters who may be fearful of needles).
Wessel pitched the project to Nintendo for approval, whose executives in Japan were initially bemused by the idea as childhood diabetes is rare in the country compared to the US. Nintendo eventually gave Wessel their blessing, and Wessel received funding from an Australian investor to develop and release a version of the glucose meter for the Game Boy Advance.
The GBA version of the Glucoboy saw a limited release in Australia in 2007, right at the end of the handheld's life cycle. The Glucoboy came integrated with a cartridge which has a series of minigames developed by Sensory Sweep Studios, two of them being Knock 'Em Downs and Lost Star Saga, both RPGs with in-game rewards acquired by checking one's blood sugar levels frequently. German pharmaceutical company Bayer took interest in Wessel's invention shortly after, purchasing Wessel's company in 2008 for 10 million dollars and redesigned the Glucoboy for the Nintendo DS, marketing it as the Didget alongside their existing line of blood glucose meters.
The original Glucoboy saw a very limited test release in Australia, selling only 70,000 units at AU$300. Reportedly, all unsold stock of the Glucoboy was destroyed following Bayer's acquisition of Guidance Interactive; only two copies of the cartridge are known to exist: one from Paul Wessel and another unit at Bayer's archives, and no reports of the device being sold on the second-hand market were reported, making the Glucoboy one of the rarest if not the rarest Game Boy Advance title in existence. The Didget, while also rare, could occasionally be found on sites like eBay, either as a loose game cartridge or with the glucose meter itself. Unlike the Glucoboy, the Didget's pack-in game can function on its own, though with limited functionality.
In 2018 gameplay footage from development builds of the Glucoboy cartridge surfaced on YouTube through a documentary video by Kelsey Lewin, where she interviewed Paul Wessel and members of the development team.
- https://engadget.com/2004-10-26-glucoboy-brings-blood-sugar-monitoring-to-gameboy.html GlucoBoy brings blood sugar monitoring to GameBoy
- Paul Wessel
- Nintendo Meets Diabetes Care: The History of the Glucoboy and Didget Blood Glucose Monitors
- DS Game Takes Place of Glucose Monitor
- Didget by Bayer – The Video Game Kraken
- No-Intro DAT-o-Matic entry for the Australian Glucoboy ROM, archive via archive.ph
- Glucoboy ROM on the Internet Archive