Over the decades, there were plenty of kooky Game Boy games released in both Japan and the West. Plenty of strange accessories, too, from cameras to printers to blood glucose monitors. But 2001’s Mario Family was especially kooky.
Why? Because it was a cartridge designed not to be played, but to be plugged into a sewing machine. So the machine could spit out cute little stitchings of Nintendo characters. How…quaint.
Mario Family was a Game Boy Color title designed to work exclusively with the Jaguar JN-100, a $600 sewing machine released a year earlier, in 2000. Jaguar, formerly known as Maruzen Mishin Company (and first opened in 1949), is no niche, hobbyist firm; it’s Japan’s biggest sewing machine manufacturer, so this was a genuine offer aimed at mainstream customers, not something you’d find in the back alleys of a gaming show.
It worked like this: the JN-100 shipped with a special link cable allowing a Game Boy Color to be attached to the sewing machine. Users would couple their handheld to the JN-100, insert the cartridge and then, by “playing” it, could access dozens of Nintendo designs which the sewing machine would then replicate on material.