A Tuning Company Once Turned a Game Boy Advance Into a Boost Controller

The 2000s were a time when you could crank up the boost in your car and then play some Pokemon on the same device.

byRob Stumpf| PUBLISHED Jan 19, 2023 3:14 PM
A Tuning Company Once Turned a Game Boy Advance Into a Boost Controller
screengrab via YouTube | Jermaine Tuning
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If you find yourself aimlessly scrolling through TikTok, you're probably navigated your way to the depths of CarTok by now—I know that I have. Recently, a trending video showing off some cool, old-school tech from the early 2000s popped up: a boost controller made for the Game Boy Advance (and Advance SP).

Now, I know that sounds absurd, especially if you were too young to remember peak Game Boy season or too old to care. But yes, an actual tuning product existed that turned Nintendo's foldable handheld into a car tuning accessory.

The cartridge was the brainchild of Maryland-based tuning company, TurboXS. Called the DTEC, the system was released in October 2004. It was aimed at catering to era-specific platforms like the Mazda RX-7, Mitsubishi Evo and Eclipse, Nissan 240sx, Subaru STI, and the Toyota Supra.

The DTEC utilized a Nintendo Game Boy as both a display and input device, allowing drivers to modify the boost pressure of their turbocharged car and click on a button on the directional pad. It could also display data in the form of a boost gauge, tachometer, or even an air/fuel ratio gauge with an optional wideband kit. TurboXS also had originally planned to make a version of the DTEC compatible with the dual-screen Nintendo DS as well, according to an old article from IGN, but it doesn't appear that a DS-specific version ever made it to market.

What's more, the system could also be used as a data logger. The DTEC could record RPM, throttle position, boot, injector duty cycle, knock, AFR, and timing correction for playback and tuning troubleshooting. Remember—this was the early 2000s, so the power of this tiny handheld system cannot be understated (just read this wormhole of a forum post for a reminder of what it was like to be a DIY tuner at the turn of the millennium).

Now, a boost controller and data logger are cool, but there was so much more that TurboXS could have done with its software. In fact, the tuning company had planned to pair its Game Boy-bound cartridge with its popular UTEC Engine Management System, effectively making it a tuning device as well.

To be clear, TurboXS' plan was not like slapping an old Apexi Super AFC piggyback tuning device on your dashboard. The UTEC system had full control over fuel, timing, and boost pressure...all of which could be modified directly from the Game Boy. A close handheld competitor still on the market today, the Cobb AccessPort, was also released in 2004.

But let's be real—neither the SAFC or AccessPort could play Pokemon when it isn't in your car, so which device is the real winner here?

Sadly, the TurboXS DTEC has been long discontinued. When new, a barebones DTEC starter kit sold for $229, but was limited to just data logging. The more robust DTEC-BC-Pro (which came with an electronic boost control solenoid, as well as MAP and knock sensors) retailed for $550. Of course, you would need to add a $99 Game Boy Advance SP on top to complete the kit.

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