A handheld with several versions, the 8-bit Gameboy was the first we may really call “portable”. Initially ignoring colors and always ignoring retro-illumination, Nintendo understood that the duration of the batteries was an important factor in these types of systems. The initial model, released in 1989 and counting on Tetris as a faithful companion quickly became a major success worldwide, originating several different models/evolutions. There were other models, like the color version, released somehow in the same period of time as Pokémon and also a great success.
How I got it
I remember playing with several friends’ Game Boys back in the days. However, when I asked my parents for a handheld (my first one), I asked for Game Gear instead. Being a Sega Fan, and comparing the black-and-white Gameboy Games with Game Gear’s colored 8-bits, the choice seemed obvious. Looking back, it shouldn’t have been. Not wanting to talk too much about Game, its (really short) battery duration, limited what a handheld should be. That did not happen with Game Boy, and watching other kids at school playing it between classes not having to constantly change the 4 batteries ringed the “I should have picked the other one instead” bell.
Only recently have I bought the original Game Boy. Still working great, and with an external battery which avoids poisoning the nature with acid. And believe me, every time someone sees my collection for the first time, this console is one of the first which triggers the “man, those were really great!” reaction.
Gameboy’s “son” is a colored kid. Ok, maybe I should rephrase this one. The final 8-bit Gameboy (Gameboy Advance is a console from a different generation) is a Gameboy color. This console was my second handheld (after Gamegear), bought during the Pokémon fever, on Christmas, as a gift shared by me and one of my sisters. And a great handheld it was! We had other games, but what I clearly remember of my times with this console was trying to “Catch Them All!”. I still own the original box, with all the manuals, and the console is as good as new. But I never caught them all (I didn’t have anybody to trade those who needed to be traded). Maybe one day…
Condition and Description
The Gameboy Color is almost as new, still with boxes and manuals. Me and my sister took good care of this one, fortunately! The original console is also pretty decent, considering its age. I’m pretty sure it will still be around by the time Nintendo 4DS hits the market.
The original Game Boy was released in 1989 in Japan and North America and in 1990 in Europe. Developed by Nintendo, 6 years after the release of Nintendo Entertainment System, was a creation of Gunpei Yokoi and Nintendo Research and Development, the same staff who created the Game & Watch series (the first handheld systems by Nintendo) and several popular games for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Combining features of Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Watch, Game Boy was bundled with the videogame Tetris. The decision to bundle Gameboy with Tetris proved intelligent, and no one can say if Tetris sold the Game Boy, or Game Boy sold Tetris. What is easy to see is that this power duo was a big success, and it’s easy to find people who only bought that one game for the handheld.
Game Boy has 4 buttons and a directional pad which control what happens on the green screen. It also has volume and contrast controls, together with headphones’ jack, a battery supply jack, and a Game Boy link jack. The link cable was initially thought to allow multi-player, but was later used by Pokémon’s creator as a way to allow not only competition, but also communication and networking. The console could be powered using 4 AA batteries, a power cable, or an external battery unit.
The console’s functionality might be increased by using some peripherals, some of them more successful (and useful) than others, namely the Game Boy Camera and Printer, Game Boy Pocket Sonar, Super Game Boy, Transfer Pak, Game Link Cable, Game Boy Four Player Adapter, Game Boy Battery Pack and Mobile Adaptor.
The color version was released in 1998, responding to the request from the developers for a more sophisticated system than the original Gameboy. The system has backward compatibility, allowing it to run games developed for its predecessor, transforming the gray scale in one color palette. Apart from the colors, this console was not a great evolution from the original model. It is simply a Gameboy, with color. I suppose that’s why they named it like they did. Smart Nintendo!
Together with Game Boy Color, Game Boy sold 118 million units worldwide. Before Game Boy Color’s release, the Game Boy sold 64.42 million units worldwide. These values cannot be unassociated with the success of two games: Tetris and Pokémon. If one, made the console spread all over the world, ranging all types of players (this console get the highest percentage of female players at the time), the other gave it a new life, also contributing to the console’s colored version’s success.
CPU – 8-bit Sharp LR35902. / 8 bit Sharp Z80
Memory – 8kB internal S-RAM, 8kB internal video RAM. / 32 kB S-RAM, 16 kB RAM
Video – Reflective LCD 160 × 144 pixels. / 160 x 144 pixels LCD, Reflexive, Color
Audio – 2 square waves, 1 programmable 32-sample 4-bit PCM wave, 1 white noise, and one audio input from the cartridge. The unit only has one speaker, but headphones provide stereo sound (for further information, see Game Boy music). / 2 square wave channels, 1 wave channel, 1 noise channel, mono speaker, stereo headphone jack.
Communication – Up to 2 Game Boys via built-in serial ports using a link cable. Up to 4 with a 4-player adapter. More than 4 players is possible by chaining adapters. Also, a Mobile Adaptor can be used with some games (only released in Japan). / The same, plus a infrared adapter.
Data – Cartridge’s memory. (both)
Input – Game Boy Camera and Game Boy Pocket Sonar.