The Game Boy is a handheld video game console created by Nintendo and first sold in Japan on 1989-04-21 and in the USA three months later. The handheld uses an LCD dot matrix display which can support four shades of green with a resolution of 160x144 pixels that must be composed of 8x8 pixel tiles. It uses a custom audio chip that outputs two pulse waves, a PCM 4-bit wave sample channel, and a noise channel.
I first saw a Game Boy during recess in elementary school, I think it was the summer of 1989. An older boy had one and was playing Super Mario Land. The very first time I played a Game Boy was during my fifth grade cast party of the Nutcracker Suite I was in, where I played Nintendo's Tennis. Later, my brother stole a Game Boy from a classmate in high school and I played Tetris on it before he either sold it or gave it back. I never owned a Game Boy, but I always wanted one even though I knew it was inferior to my coveted NES. After the system had pretty much run it's course, I saw my friend Eric's collection which included Metroid II: Return of Samus and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. He spoke highly of each game and I played them both briefly, but didn't want to use his mostly-complete saved games and have them spoiled for me. In my early 20s, my girlfriend and I played a lot of Tetris on her Game Boy on our trip to Florida, but, it wasn't until my late 20s, after Game Boy emulators matured, that I started familiarizing myself with its catalog of games. I discovered that, like most video game systems, the bulk of the library was garbage. So, now I'm glad that I never did buy a Game Boy, as the cost of batteries and money wasted on lame games would have prevented me from getting more games for the NES (though, I did buy a lot of trash games on the NES too).
I have never owned a Game Boy.
- See all Game Boy Games.
Due to having only a small amount of cartridge space to work with, most early Game Boy games were highly repetitive. Also, since saving wasn't initially possible, many of the games were designed either with password systems, or were short enough to be finished in a single sitting. The platform also suffers from a huge number of generic puzzle games which were easier to fit into the smaller ROM space and could be picked up and put down with ease. Those companies that tried to port their console games to the platform, often had to scale back the game so much you were left with a husk of the original.
These are the Game Boy games that are important to me.
- The Game Boy is pretty comfortable in your hand.
- Using a grayscale LCD was a good choice for saving battery life. The color handhelds, even those released years after the Game Boy, just didn't have the staying power.
- The system had stereo sound (through headphones) which was impressive at the time.
- Most of Nintendo's first-party games were superb, and a couple of third-party games were also good.
- The system was engineered very well, for everyone I know who held onto their Game Boy, they still work nearly 30 years later.
- The LCD, though a necessary trade-off for battery life, looks pretty bad, and has a slow refresh rate causing blurring, and lacks a backlight. The original run had a particularly awful screen, but later models were a little better, but none of them were ever great.
- Most of the games released on the platform are pretty terrible, and a lot of the good games were just weaker ports of existing NES games.
- A lot of games were released for the Game Boy with the same title of an NES game, implying it would be essentially the same, but they were actually seriously different games (Bionic Commando, Bonk's Adventure, Mega Man II, etc.). Nintendo should have forced alternate titles for games that were so different.