The Game Boy's classic model.
|Released|| April 21, 1989|
July 31, 1989
September 28, 1990
|Media||Game Boy cartridges|
|Units shipped||118.69 million (includes Game Boy Color)|
|Predecessor|| Game & Watch|
|Successor|| Game Boy Pocket|
The Game Boy is a Nintendo manufactured handheld released initially in 1989. It was the first dedicated 8-bit handheld system from the company with that made use of interchangeable cartridges to play many different titles. It featured a 2.6" 4-shade LCD, stereo sound through headphones, and interchangeable cartridges. The button layout was based on that of the Nintendo Entertainment System controller. It used 4 AA batteries, but can also be used with an AC Adapter to power the system from a wall socket. While not the first handheld system to use ROM cartridges, it was certainly the most popular of its time.
Smart marketing and a trusted brand led the Game Boy to become the most successive handheld platform of its era despite being the least impressive when it came to technology compared to other platforms like the Sega Game Gear. The Game Boy was affordable, its batteries lasted and it was bolstered by an impressive software library. Various video games such as Tetris, Super Mario Land, Kirby's Dream Land and Pokémon games led the system to a very long life. The original Game Boy was remade various times, though the most impressive was the Game Boy Color, which gave Game Boy games color graphics while the original Game Boy just had four shades of grey.
The Game Boy was developed by Nintendo R&D1 and was conceived by the brilliant mind of Gunpei Yokoi, who had previously created the Game & Watch series, Metroid and assisted Shigeru Miyamoto on creating Donkey Kong. The Game Boy was his most successful product of all time, selling 118.69 million units worldwide (including all variations). The Game Boy is considered the successor to the Game & Watch series of games.
Gunpei Yokoi had become one of the best known employees of Nintendo having created various inventions such as the Game & Watch series, Metroid, and various knick-knacks before Nintendo ventured into video games. He wanted to combine the success of the Game & Watch series and the Nintendo Entertainment System, and the result was the Game Boy. Two years before the system was released in 1987, Gunpei Yokoi approached Hiroshi Yamauchi, the then global Nintendo president, and showed him a prototype that he and his team had created. Yamauchi was so impressed by it that he speculated that it would end up selling 25 million copies in 3 years.
Across the pond Minoru Arakawa, the Nintendo of America president, said that he thought they could manage to push 100 million units. Arakawa knew, however, that it would take more than Mario and The Legend of Zelda to accomplish this goal, and remembered back to a game he experienced in July of 1988. The game was created by a Russian named Alexey Pajitnov, and the game was Tetris.
The game had become very popular, though there were no handheld incarnations of the game, so Arakawa and a few others from Nintendo of America headed to Russia to try to start a deal, and a few months before the system launched Nintendo decided that Tetris would be the big game they would bundle with the console, similarly to how Super Mario Bros. was bundled with the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Three years later, the console sold 7 million more hardware units than expected with 32 million software units sold. By 1997, the Game Boy had sold a whopping 60 million units. It became one of Nintendo's most successful products of all time.
- CPU: Custom 8-bit Sharp x80 core at 4.19 MHz
- RAM: 8 kB internal S-RAM
- Video RAM: 8 kB internal
- ROM: On-CPU-Die 256-byte bootstrap;
- Sound: 2 square wave generators, 1 programmable 32-sample 4-bit PCM wave sample, 1 white noise generator, cartridge external audio input. The unit only has one speaker, but headphones provide stereo sound. The external audio input was never used in any commercial games.
- Display: Reflective STN LCD 160 × 144 pixels
- Screen size: 66 mm diagonal
- Color Palette: 4 shades of "gray" (green to (very) dark green)
- Communication: Up to 4 Game Boys can be linked together via serial ports
- Power: 6 V, 0.7 W (4 AA batteries provide ~10–12 hours)
- Dimensions: 90 mm(W) × 148 mm(H) × 32 mm(D)
- Weight: 200g (without batteries)
Top Five Best Selling Games
- Tetris (35 million)
- Pokémon Red and Blue (20.68 million)
- Super Mario Land (14 million)
- Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition
- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
The Game Boy's phenomenal success has led to a huge legacy. The Game Boy line lasted over fifteen years.
To distinguish from the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance, the original Game Boy has been renamed the Game Boy Classic.