wolfgang ziegler

„make stuff and blog about it“

Game Boy Backlight Mod - Best Practices

August 27, 2023

About a year ago I bought this excellent book by @Gamechangermods that introduced me to the idea of Game Boy modding. The go-to mod is adding a backlight to your Game Boy and I finally took the time to follow through with that project.

Game Boy Modding book

I bought the components (backlight kit and Bivert chip) on retroreiz.de (but you might prefer a different site with English instructions).

I will not repeat the individual steps here, because there are countless instructions on the internet already. However, I want to share my experiences and best practices since this project definitely has its challenges.

Polarizer Removal

I don't think the instructions on retroreiz.de do a great job explaining this, because I totally screwed this up first.

However, it's quite simple:

If the glass is still greenish, you did it wrong! The glass needs to be clear.

This is wrong!

Failed polarizer removal

This is what it's supposed to look like.

Correct polarizer removal

  • The polarizer actually comes off nicely if you do it correctly ;-) (i.e. get the knife behind the right layer).
  • There will be glue residue though (see image above).
    • Nail polish and Q-tips work fine for removing it.
    • Specialized glue residue removal spray works even better.
    • This takes time! I scrubbed the screen for over an hour.

Polarizer Exchange

The polarizer that came with my backlight kit, was an adhesive one. The instructions however say not to glue it, which is basically good advice. However, since it is adhesive, they recommend to leave the protective foil on. This results in an inferior picture IMHO. I definitely recommend to invest in a non-adhesive polarizer foil. Then you can remove the protective film and get an even crisper image.

Display Stripes

The whole process puts quite some strain on the display's ribbon cables and you might end up with stripes on your display once your are finished. This is usually easy to fix (at least the vertical stripes), see my related blog post.

Now Enjoy your Game

The backlit Game Boy