The Triumph of the Game Boy

Game Boy Classic

On April 21, 1989, Nintendo presented the 8-bit handheld video game device called Game Boy, the first handheld console. The Game Boy and its successor, the Game Boy Color, have been tremendous successful by combined selling 118.69 million units worldwide. Upon its release in the United States, it sold its entire shipment of one million units within weeks.

I had a lot of fun with the device as well. I remember the many hours I played to finally beat the black and white (or rather gray) Super Mario game, unable to turn it off because it never saved the game progress and you had to start from the beginning, next time playing. Something that parents never understood.

The Game Boy was the most commercially successful of its kind, even though it had several competitors on the market. One of those was the Atari Lynx, which even went with color graphics and networking abilities. Unfortunately users were only able to play 4 hours, because it used too much of the battery power. Another competitor was Sega’s Game Gear, which was in comparison to the Game Boy much more expensive and was only sold around 11 million times in total. The Game Boy really succeeded with its energy efficiency, able to run about 10 hours, even though it lacked of good lighting and only displayed four shades of grey. 

Gaming with the Game Boy never got boring and almost everyone found a game he or she liked. Probably some of the most successful games were Tetris, Super-Mario and Donkey-Kong. A great part of Game Boy’s success also depicted the Pokémon series published in 1996 and I remember everyone fighting over which was better, the red or the blue edition. Nintendo also published several add-ons for the handheld device, such as the Game Boy printer and a camera, which was really a great fun before camera phones established on the market. Also very useful was the Game Boy magnifier and the additional light you could set up.

After the original Game Boy, many upgrades followed through the years including a transparent version or the Game Boy Light with an additional background lighting. However, the Game Boy Color was probably the biggest advancement in the first 10 years, published in 1998. It was able to pictures 56 colors at the same time and equipped with an infrared port to support networking. The first touchscreen on a Game Boy was introduced with the Nintendo DS in 2004 and differed in almost everything from the normal Game Boy series.

At yovisto, you may enjoy a TED talk on the future of gaming by Peter Molyneux staring Milo, the virtual boy.

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