BASE NECTARIS (USA) presents:  Nectaris GB FAQ  &  GB KISS LINK FAQ  (1998, Hudson Soft, Gameboy)            return to:  BASE NECTARIS  (site map)

Nectaris GB FAQ  &  GB KISS LINK FAQ  (1998, Hudson Soft, Gameboy)



This mini-FAQ contains a lot of information, including extensive discussions on:  (1) the modem hardware (and the items bundled with it, such as the pack-in games),  (2) the file sharing features of GB KISS (which doesn't necessarily require the modem, and includes sharing text messages as well as game data), a brief look into the catalog of GB KISS games, and (4) a look at what makes a GB KISS cartridge special.  Ooops, I forgot about the most important thing... in an effort to keep this article as confusion-free as possible, please familiarize yourself with the handy glossary of GB KISS terms, since you may already be wondering what, if any, difference there is between GB KISS, GB KISS LINK, GB KISS MAIL, etc.  Finally, to round things out, the success and / or failure of GB KISS is considered. 
On March 6, 1998 (a week after the release of Nectaris GB), Hudson Soft of Japan released GB KISS LINK -- one of the most intriguing Gameboy peripherals ever released (yes, Gameboy Advance peripherals included).  So, you ask, what type of peripheral was GB KISS LINK ?  Well, GB KISS LINK was an infrared modem that allowed folks to connect their Gameboy (with a GB KISS cartridge installed) to a personal computer (running PC Windows 95).  This allowed gamers to

Gameboy, GB KISS LINK modem & 3.5" floppy with drivers / utilities CLICK for the full page (GB KISS LINK)
An infrared modem that allows you to transfer game data between a Gameboy cartridge  (GB KISS compatible) and a personal computer  ( PC Windows 95 ) ...who knew?    GB KISS LINK came with two 3.5" floppy diskettes:  GB KISS utilities / drivers on the first,  and 29 mini-games  ( ? )  for Gameboy on the second disk  (not pictured).

transfer data (i.e. game save states, custom maps created with the map editor, exclusive content downloaded from Hud- son's website, etc.) between their PC and Gameboy cartridge.  Yes, you heard that right... the original 1989 Gameboy, which was considered ancient technology well before 1998, was still getting innovative (others might call it "gimmicky" ) software and hardware support whilst other, less fortunate handhelds (i.e. NEC's PC-Engine GT, Atari's Lynx, Sega's Game Gear, etc.) had long been abandoned in the graveyard of gaming devices. 
Speaking of ancient technology, Gameboy Color was released in 1998, the same year as GB KISS LINK and Nectaris GB.  It was the first (and only) Gameboy design to feature an infrared (IR) communication port.  When I first heard about file sharing via GB KISS, I assumed it was designed with Gameboy Color's IR port in mind.  Then I realized that Nintendo did not release Gameboy Color until October 1998 (seven months after the release of Nectaris GB and the GB KISS LINK).  Then a friend told me that the Japanese version of Pocket Bomberman (which was released in December of 1997) featured GB KISS functionality as well.... Well, it was at this point that I knew that I was totally confused:  how exactly did GB KISS work, since the original Gameboy (and 1996's Gameboy Pocket update) did not have an infrared (IR) communication port?

IR port on GB KISS cartridge Positioning Gameboys for GB KISS

LEFT :  Infrared (IR) communication port built into the top of all GB KISS cartridges.  RIGHT : Positioning Gameboys for a GB KISS file transfer. They must be no more than 1 centimeter apart, hence they are "kissing" each other.  Yay!

All the evidence  ( page 41  page 42 )  points to one solution:  GB KISS games have an IR port built into the cartridges themselves;  this allows GB KISS games to fully function with any Gameboy handheld (GBA SP, GBA, GB Color, GB Pocket, GB original, etc.).  However, the GB KISS features may be incompatible with Super Gameboy (i.e. the Gameboy adapter for Super Famicom / Super Nintendo -- a Japanese site noted this incompatibility, but I have yet to verify it)  and / or  Gameboy Player (i.e. the Gameboy adapter for Nintendo's GameCube).
Still, I am confused:  being the nerd that I am, I inspected my Nectaris GB cartridge very carefully and found no evidence of an IR port (in fact, the cart's external appearance was identical to that of a standard, generic Gameboy cartridge).  When I get a chance, I am going to open the cartridge.  That should set the record straight.  Also, once I acquire a second copy of Nectaris GB, I will be able to test the GB KISS features first hand.


Glossary of GB KISS Terms:


It is very easy to get confused with all the different features of GB KISS and the terminology applied to each of them.  This glossary is my attempt to define some general terms in a simple, straightforward manner.  To get a feel for the more nuanced and finer details of GB KISS, please read the entire mini-FAQ.
"GB KISS" is a term created by Hudson Soft, and yes, it implies that two Gameboy cartridges are "kissing" each other--but instead of exchanging saliva, they are exchanging data.  "GB KISS" is a broad term that refers to "wireless, infrared file transfer." It is most commonly used in reference to cartridge <--> cartridge file sharing, since that was the most common applica- tion of GB KISS technology (i.e. sharing user-created maps from Pocket Bomberman or Nectaris GB ).

GB KISS cart with built-in IR port

Two cartridges "kissing"

GB KISS Cartridge
with built-in IR port

Two Gameboy cartridges "kissing"  
(sharing data), hence "GB KISS"   

All GB KISS games included a utility for managing and transferring files (both game data and text messages).  Each GB KISS cart allocated six memory slots for game data (i.e. save states, user-created maps, con- tent downloaded from internet) and 18 slots for text messages. Yes, that's right, with "GB KISS MAIL" you could compose text messages (both kana / kanji and Roman alphabet available) and manage your mailbox.  Then, with GB KISS, you could send (and receive) messages from your friends.

GB KISS UTILITY:  Send & receive
files /  messages from friends 

GB KISS MAIL:  Compose  messages & manage mailbox.
Finally, "GB KISS LINK" was an infrared modem that you connected to your personal computer, and its' sole purpose was to allow you to transfer files between a GB KISS cartridge and a PC (in other words, it allowed the Gameboy to "kiss" the PC). As the diagram on the far right indicates, exclusive game content (i.e. extra levels) could be downloaded from Hudson's website, saved onto your PC, and then transferred to Gameboy via the GB KISS LINK modem.  (PC Windows 95)

GB KISS LINK modem in its plastic case

Diagram illustrating INTERNET <--> PC <--> GAMEBOY interactivity

GB KISS LINK: Modem hardware

PC and cartridge are "kissing" 



As you might expect, the GB KISS LINK (Hudson Model # HC-749) was sold as a bundled package including several items: the modem itself, a clear plastic case to protect the modem and two 3.5" floppy diskettes.  The first floppy disk contained special utilities / drivers to install on a PC running Windows 95.  The second disk contained files for 29 mini- games (developed by Hudson, these games are discussed in the next section). The pictures below suggest that the GB KISS LINK modem was a fragile item and that it certainly wasn't designed for rugged use (as you would expect from handhelds and most of their accessories). The female parallel port connector was mounted directly onto the IC board; the circuits and electronic components on the board were exposed; and only a thin flexible case was provided to shield GB KISS LINK from abuse.  The modem, which received and transmitted infrared signals to GB KISS cartridges, required a

GB KISS LINK modem in its plastic case Not pictured: the second 3.5" floppy containing games
The GB KISS LINK modem came in a thin plastic envelope that snapped shut with a cute yellow button.  A 9-volt battery  (not pictured)  would rest on the IC board below this yellow button. The image on the far right reveals an unidentified item, located directly above the GB KISS LINK,  that I have not seen in any other picture nor mentioned in any document.

standard 9-volt battery (006P).  I do not know the modem's power consumption rate, but I would expect battery life to be average (unless the modem lacks an "off" switch and is constantly draining the battery). The GB KISS LINK had to be connected to a PC via a parallel port cable (remember the good old days before USB?) and the picture below (right) illustrates how this parallel port cable connected to the modem itself.  The modem was designed to remain in it's plastic envelope at all times (except when the battery needed to be changed), so there are openings in the case near the parallel port connector and the IR port (located on the opposite side of the parallel port connector?).  Look closely at the image below (left) you can see that the 3.5" floppy disk containing the drivers / utilities is labeled "GB KISS LINK SUPPORT DISK" (Windows 95).  This PC application for GB KISS remains a mystery to me.  At minimum, I would expect the PC

Modem without case; GB KISS LINK SUPPORT DISK Parallel port cable connected to GB KISS LINK modem
LEFT :  GB KISS LINK without its' protective case (female parallel port connector is in upper right corner; black plastic compartment for 9-volt battery is empty).  3.5" floppy diskette containing the drivers / utilities that had to be installed on the PC.   RIGHT :  During use, GB KISS LINK remained in its' protective case. Here we see a parallel port cable connected to GB KISS LINK. This modem used a 9-volt battery  ( on the right, under the yellow button ). 

utility to offer all of the options for managing and transferring data as those  found on the Gameboy's GB KISS utility (here are the GB KISS MENU OPTIONS on the Gameboy -- translations welcome).  The PC version, however, would be able to save and archive countless files (unlike the limited storage capacity of a Gameboy cartridge).  Also, the PC utility might offer some specialized features for accessing the internet and downloading (perhaps even UPLOADING) game content. For now, this is the only image of the PC interface that I have been able to find:

GB KISS LINK software application for PC (Win 95)

GB KISS LINK application for PC (Windows 95)

This screenshot of the PC utility is not particularly helpful.  Since I don't possess the GB KISS LINK modem or any of its documentation, I am hoping someone else will be able to fill in the gaps.  I have been trying to get my hands on this item (or anything related to it) for years, but they are difficult to come by.  For example, I have yet to see GB KISS LINK listed in any US, UK, or Japanese online auctions.  If you can help me out in any way, please contact me.

  GB KISS LINK: Pack-In Games


As I noted in the previous section, the GB KISS LINK modem was bundled with two 3.5" floppy diskettes.  The second disk contained 29 mini-games for play on the Gameboy (I have yet to verify that the 29 games were all unique and not simply variations).  The mini-game disk is never pictured in the promotional photos, which is odd because companies usually want consumers to feel like they are getting their money's worth.  And "getting your money's worth" was the very reason Hudson included games in the GB KISS LINK bundle -- so gamers would actually be able to use their new modem immediately (assuming they had at least one GB KISS Gameboy cart, that is).
How lame (and disappointing) would it have been to get the GB KISS LINK and not be able to use it because you have no files to transfer (especially fresh, new content)?  Ultimately, I do not think Hudson created a lot of web-exclusive down- loads for games, so the pack-in games served an important function (i.e. at the time of the modem's initial release, perhaps there were 1-3 downloads available, although I can only confirm one for Nectaris GB).  Not that the pack-in mini-games were stellar, mind you, but at least they provided a pretext for actually using the modem to obtain new content.  Plus, once a mini-game was saved onto a Gameboy cartridge, you could use GB KISS to share it with your friends (again, assuming they owned at least one GB KISS cartridge).  I don't have info on all 29 mini-games (if there actually were 29 unique games, that is), but I was lucky enough to find a handful of reviews and screenshots from a Japanese website --  S. Noddy's Homepage .   Many thanks go out to S. Noddy  ( I dig that picture of him ! )  for documenting these games and providing great screenshots!  The six GB KISS mini-games profiled below are CANNON BALL, SAME GAME KISS, MINI STASOL, PUZZLE GAME, WORM and  ???  (
モグってナンボ、オヤジでドカン ).

CANNON BALL title screen CANNON BALL gameplay SAME GAME KISS title screen SAME GAME KISS gameplay
 CANNON BALL  is a clone of Capcom's Buster Bros. (a.k.a. POMPING WORLD in Japan).  In this version, though, your character's sprite looks like a ... ?  SAME GAME GB KISS  is a simplified version of Hudson's own game (a series of games, in fact) which itself is a commercialized version of PC freeware. I read that the PC freeware version had been a craze in Japan.
MINI STASOL title screen MINI STASOL gameplay PUZZLE GAME title screen PUZZLE GAME gameplay
 MINI STASOL  is a vertical shooter of sorts. Remember, Hudson gave us the "Star Soldier" series, which this mini-game is based upon.  Get it?  STAr SOLdier. 
??? title screen ??? gameplay WORM title screen WORM gameplay
 モグってナンボ、オヤジでドカン   Bizarre... a boy (or monkey?) climbing a palm tree (upper right) and a vegetable ducking into a sewer pipe a la Mario Bros. Wait! That's the same running vegetable featured in CANNON BALL.
 WORM   Well, you should know this one.  At least the other mini-games listed above use sprites, WORM is an ascii text game.

Anyway, here's how the pack-in games worked:  First the mini-game files from the second floppy disk were saved onto a PC.  Then these files were transferred, via the GB KISS LINK modem, to a GB KISS Gameboy cartridge.  It is not entirely clear how this works, since  the mini-games would require some of Gameboy's RAM -- RAM which, presumably, is already being used by whatever game is residing in the Gameboy at the moment.  Also, how would one access these games?  Transferring and storing a file into a cartridge's memory slot is one thing, but accessing / playing a mini-game requires a user interface (i.e. menu), among other things.  
:  Hudson will recycle some of these mini-games as cell-phone games.  Beginning in 2000, Hudson shifted a lot of its energy and resources into "mobile gaming" and developed a new business plan that focused on providing cell phone content for gamers on several platforms (initially, on the i-appli java-based cell phone platform and then branching out to other, newer formats, such as VODAPHONE).  Hudson would eventually port faithful versions of its' PC-Engine HuCard catalog to cell-gaming, including Nectaris, Bomberman, Super Star Soldier, China Warrior, etc.


next page:  PART II of the GB KISS MINI-FAQ


The second part of this mini-FAQ moves beyond the hardware itself and examines how file sharing between cartridges (and PCs, and the internet) is accomplished with the GB KISS utilities (i.e. GB KISS MAIL).  The commercial success (or failure) of Hudson's GB KISS technology is discussed, followed by a brief look into the catalog of GB KISS titles in Japan and North America (only one GB KISS game was released in North America -- ROBOPON on Gameboy Color).



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