An original Game Boy
|Also known as|| Mini Comboy |
|Release date|| April 21, 1989 |
July 31, 1989
September 28, 1990
|Discontinued||March 23, 2003|
|Units sold||64,420,000 units|
|Power||4 AA batteries|
|CPU||Z80 8-bit CMOS|
|Display||STN LCD 160 × 144 pixels, 47 × 43 mm (w x h)|
|Dimensions||148 x 90 x 32 mm|
|Best-selling game||Pokémon Red and Blue Versions, approximately 31 million units|
|Predecessor||Game & Watch|
Game Boy Color
- “Now you're playing with power. Portable power.”
- – Game Boy slogan
The Game Boy is Nintendo's second handheld console. It is the first and titular handheld of the Game Boy family, and was launched in Japan and North America in 1989 and later in Europe in 1990. The Game Boy is the handheld counterpart of both the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. In 1998, the Game Boy received a successor, the Game Boy Color.
The Game Boy combines features from both the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game & Watch units. The console features a dull green dot-matrix screen with adjustable contrast dial, five control buttons (a , , , , and , the same as on a Nintendo Entertainment System), a single speaker with an adjustable volume dial, and, like its rivals, uses cartridges as physical media for games. The color scheme is made from two tones of grey with accents of black, blue, and dark magenta. All corners of the portrait-oriented rectangular unit are softly rounded except for the bottom right, which is curved. Initial pressings of the Game Boy were bundled with Tetris.
Despite being technologically inferior to its competitors — Sega Game Gear, Atari Lynx, and TurboExpress, all of which had 16-bit full color graphics — the Game Boy received praise for its battery life and durability in design. The Game Boy runs on four AA batteries, allowing for up to 30 hours of gameplay. The Game Boy is one of the best selling handhelds, let alone game consoles, of all time, having solid over 64 million units worldwide (not including its successor, the Game Boy Color).
The Game Boy was designed by Nintendo's chief engineer Gunpei Yokoi and the Nintendo R&D1 team. Following the popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System, he pitched the Game Boy concept to Hiroshi Yamauchi, and began working on it. The original internal code name for the Game Boy is Dot Matrix Game, referring to its dot-matrix display unlike Game & Watch handhelds, which have segmented LCDs pre-printed with an overlay, limiting each model to only one game.
The initials DMG are featured on the final product's model number: "DMG-01". Internal reception of the console at Nintendo was initially very poor, with the derogatory nickname "DameGame" from Nintendo employees, in which dame (だめ) means "hopeless" or "lame".
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- CPU: Z80 8-bit CMOS
- CPU speed: 4.19 Mhz
- RAM: 8 Kbyte
- Maximum resolution: 160 x 144 pixels
- Colors: Grayscale (four shades of gray; dark olive green for original units)
- Maximum sprite size: 8 x 16 pixels
- Maximum number of sprites on screen: 40 sprites, 10 per line
- Minimum/Maximum cart size: 256 Kbit - 16 Mbit
- Sound: 4 Channel
Below is a compatibility chart. There are notable color exceptions for this chart, such as Pokémon Gold and Silver Versions, which act as standard black Game Boy Color cartridges but have unusual cartridge colors.
|Type||Example cartridge||Usual color||Game Boy mode||Compatible|
|Original Game Boy cartridge||Gray|
|Game Boy Color cartridge (black)||Black|
|Game Boy Color cartridge (clear)||Clear|
Game Link Cable
|There is a Game Link Cable accessory that allows for two Game Boys to connect with each other. Pokémon Red and Blue Versions are notable examples of games to take advantage of this feature. A 4-player version of the accessory exists for games that can take advantage of this accessory. Not to be confused with Game Boy Advance's method of doing so. To communicate with later models, such as the Game Boy Pocket or Game Boy Color, a special adapter needs to be used (model MGB-004).|
Game Boy Camera
|This accessory allows the Game Boy to be used as a monochrome digital camera.|
Game Boy Printer
|The Game Boy Printer is a peripheral released in 1998. It is compatible with both the Game Boy and Game Boy Color, although most games to use the peripheral are for Game Boy Color. This accessory allows the ability to to make prints of images on special thermal paper. Game Boy Printer connects to the Game Boy via Game Link Cable. Games such as Pokémon Yellow Version, Donkey Kong Country and even the Game Boy Camera make use of this peripheral.|
GB Memory Cartridge
|Exclusive to Japan, the GB Memory Cartridge is a rewritable version of regular Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges. It was available at kiosks at certain retail stores between 1997–2007.|
Super Game Boy
|The Super Game Boy is not an actual system; rather, it is a Super Nintendo cartridge that one could insert a Game Boy cartridge into, thus allowing people to play Game Boy games on their television screens through the Super Nintendo. Certain games have additional colors that can only be seen while played on a Super Game Boy. Game Boy Color games with black cartridges can be played on the Super Game Boy. The Super Game Boy features are unavailable on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console.|
Play It Loud! units
|On March 20, 1995, Nintendo released several Game Boy models with colored cases, advertising them in the "Play It Loud!" campaign; in America, the units had a suggested retail price of $54.95. In Japan, these units are called Game Boy Bros. Play It Loud! units have identical specifications to the original Game Boy releases, and have a dark gray border surrounding the game screen. The Play It Loud! Game Boys set a precedent for subsequent Nintendo handhelds, which have all been available in more than one color.
Play It Loud! units were manufactured in red, green, black, yellow, white, blue, and clear (transparent). Blue Play It Loud! units were only released in Europe and Japan. White Play it Loud! units are the rarest, and most of them were released in Japan, although UK Toys "R" Us stores also received an exclusive edition. In the UK, a rare, limited edition Manchester United Game Boy is red, with the logos of the team emblazoned on it. It was released simultaneously with the Play it Loud! handhelds in the United Kingdom.
Game Boy Pocket
|The Game Boy Pocket is the first Game Boy remodel. the name implies, it is a pocket-sized Game Boy with its same features, and it was lighter in weight, with a clearer, more monochrome screen and a longer battery life. It requires two AAA batteries rather than four AA batteries in order to play games. The first release had no battery light indicator and it was rapidly replaced with a second release with the battery light due to customer complaints. The second release made its way into markets in several different colors.|
Game Boy Light
|The Game Boy Light is the second Game Boy remodel, and was released only in Japan on April 14, 1998. The system is slightly bigger than a Game Boy Pocket and came only in two colors, gold and silver. Its main function, as the name implies, is the ability to produce a blue-tinted backlight in order to play games in low light conditions. It was the only Game Boy system to have a proper backlight until the release of the Game Boy Advance SP.|
The Game Boy was released alongside six launch titles. Japan had five launch titles, although North American and Europe each had four launch titles.
|Super Mario Land|
In the Game Boy comics mini-series by Valiant, Game Boys acted as gateways between the Mushroom World and Earth.
The Club Nintendo comic "Wart steht unter Strom" is about Bowser (who is erroneously named "Wart") who is playing Game Boy. The power of the batteries expires, so Wart carelessly throws the batteries away. Mario reminds him that they should be properly disposed of in containers instead.
In the Nintendo Adventure Book Doors to Doom, Mario and Luigi can encounter Wart, who is relaxing in his lair and playing a Game Boy, having mellowed out and become a skateboarder since his last encounter with the heroes.
A stage that takes place in a Game Boy system, Dream Land GB (based on Kirby's Dream Land), appears in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Additionally, during the Classic mode credits minigame, hitting the Nintendo logo towards the end plays the Game Boy start-up sound.
In WarioWare Gold, a Game Boy appears as a souvenir. It is accompanied by the description, "Unlike Game & Watch, the Game Boy used an idea from Famicom: changing games by swapping cartridges. It also used batteries—extras were handy!"
- To commemorate the 100th issue of Nintendo Power, an exclusive golden Game Boy Pocket with a Nintendo Power logo and a 100 next to the system's logo was bundled with the issue.
- The screen color on the original Game Boy is later used as an alternate costume for Mr. Game & Watch in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U.
- The Game Boy's startup sound can be heard in Nintendo Puzzle Collection while playing Yoshi's Cookie. It is heard when a lightbulb appears over Mario's head.
- "Happy 30th B-Day, Game Boy: Here are six reasons why you’re #1". ArsTechnica. Published April 21, 2019.
- Nintendo. Consolidated Sales Transition by Region. Nintendo.com. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
- Technical data". Nintendo of UK (www.nintendo.co.uk).
- "A Brief History of Game Console Warfare". BusinessWeek (archived).
- "Nintendo Game Boy – 25 facts for its 25th anniversary". The Guardian. Published April 21, 2014.
- "NX, Ultra 64, Revolution… Petite histoire de Nintendo à travers ses noms de code". Le Monde.fr (archived). Published March 18, 2015.
- "Boy, Oh Game Boy: Play It Loud!". Old School Gamer Magazine. Published February 14, 2019.
- Color it loud with hot new Game Boys; Game Boy reflects players own style with five exciting new colors.". The Free Library (BusinessWire) (archived). Published January 9, 1995.