Game Boy was one of the biggest innovations in the ’80s and altered the way people play the game. Though it came out on July 31, 1989, a decade after the first handheld game system was introduced, it was remarkably popular due to its durability, cheaper cost, incredible portability, low battery consumption compared to its rivals. Thus, allowing users to enjoy and unleash the power of video games to their heart’s content. In this article, let’s discover the history of the Nintendo Game Boy and its remarkable development through the years.
The History of Game Boy
Game Boy was the brainchild of Gunpei Yokoi, one of the company’s most creative employees. Some of his famous toy creations were the “Game & Watch” and “Ultra Hand,” proving his unique discernment and ability to build eccentric but wonderful toys. Soon, he created the Game Boy, aimed to be well-built, played for extended periods, and feel more like a toy rather than a computer.
Game Boy was first released in Japan on April 21, 1989, pretty ahead of its competitors, such as Atari Lynx, NEC’s TurboExpress, and the NEC’s TurboExpress. Just over three months later, it was introduced on U.S. soil and instantly became a hit to the consumer market.
Though Super Mario Land was also bundled in the U.S. Launch, it was Tetris, an addictive puzzle game created by Russian video game designer Alexey Pajitnov, which made the biggest impact. Out of the blue, almost everyone was playing or wanted to play the game, eventually selling 35 million copies and becoming the Game Boy’s all-time best-selling video game.
On August 1, 1992, Kirby’s Dream Land was introduced in the Game Boy. It established its success as a game for the handheld console, unlike other Game Boy’s famous game franchises, like Zelda and Super Mario, that became prominent first in the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) home console before reaching the Game Boy.
Four years later, Game Boy Pocket was released on September 18, 1996, which was a slimmer, lighter, redesigned version of the original handheld console, with a bigger screen but less battery consumption. It was followed by the release of Game Boy Light on April 14, 1998, but the model was short-lived as a new version came early in November of the same year.
On September 28, 1998, Pokémon Red and Blue, the first installment of the renowned role-playing game series, was launched. Today, it serves as one of Nintendo’s best-selling games for the handheld, with over 31 million sold, ranking only second to Tetris. Its second-generation version, Pokémon Gold and Silver, is at third, with over 23 million copies sold.
The original Game Boy’s first real successor, the Game Boy Color, was released on November 18, 1998, which had three times more memory than the Game Boy Pocket and supported up to 56 colors. While it took almost a decade for the original version to get a genuine upgrade, Game Boy Color was replaced only three years later.
On March 21, 2001, Nintendo released Game Boy Advance. It was a major boost as it featured a 32-bit system, far from the 8-bit system used by the original Game boy. Like the Game Boy Color, the Game Boy Advance was backward compatible, which means it can play games from the Game Boy and Game Boy Color.
The console improvement became pretty fast, with the new version, the Game Boy SP advance, released just two years later, on February 14, 2003. It was an improved version of the 2001 console, which now had a clamshell-like design and a back screen light.
On August 18, 2005, the Game Boy had its 20th-anniversary celebration. It was accompanied by the release of the Game Boy Micro, which had all the specifications well-loved by the users, but with a relatively smaller design. It also had over 500 game tiles, a backlit screen, and four hip designs that provided players an even more unique and powerful gaming experience.
Yet, the Game Boy Micro was the version the company released under the Game Boy brand. Nintendo DS, which was launched a year earlier, soon took over and also cemented its status as one of the most successful portable gaming systems.
With the emergence of more powerful smartphones and gaming consoles that boast stunning graphics, incredible power, and an almost unlimited number of apps and games, the Game Boy has no more room in the market and just remains a significant relic of the good old days when it helped define 80s games. Nevertheless, the Game Boy undoubtedly shaped the gaming industry and pop culture, immensely influencing the way people enjoy games today.