Game Boy

Last updated

Game Boy
Gameboy logo.svg
Game-Boy-FL.jpg
An original Game Boy
Developer Nintendo R&D1
Manufacturer Nintendo
Product family Game Boy family
Type Handheld game console
Generation Fourth generation
Release date
  • JP: April 21, 1989 [1]
  • NA: July 31, 1989 [2]
  • EU: September 28, 1990
Lifespan1989–2003
Introductory price ¥12,500[ citation needed ]
US$89.95 [3]
DiscontinuedMarch 23, 2003 [4]
Units soldWorldwide: 118.69 million [4] including Game Boy (Play it Loud!), Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light and Game Boy Color units
Media ROM cartridge
CPU Sharp LR35902 core @ 4.19 MHz
Display LCD 160 × 144 pixels, 47 × 43 mm (w x h) [5]
Power4 × AA batteries (original)
Best-selling game Tetris , 30.26 million (pack-in/separately) [6]
Predecessor Game & Watch
Successor Game Boy Color [7]

The Game Boy [lower-alpha 1] is an 8-bit handheld game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo. The first handheld in the Game Boy family, it was first released in Japan on April 21, 1989, then North America, three months later, and lastly in Europe, nearly a year after. It was designed by the same team that developed the Game & Watch and several Nintendo Entertainment System games: Satoru Okada, Gunpei Yokoi, and Nintendo Research & Development 1. [8] [9]

Contents

Nintendo's second handheld game console, the Game Boy combines features from both the NES home system and Game & Watch hardware. The console features a dull green dot-matrix screen with adjustable contrast dial, five control buttons (a directional pad, two game buttons, and "start" and "select"), a single speaker with 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 the corners of the portrait-oriented rectangular unit are softly rounded, save for the bottom right, which is curved. At launch, it was sold either as a standalone unit, or bundled with one of several games, namely Super Mario Land or Tetris . Several accessories were also developed, including a carrying pouch and printer.

Despite being technologically inferior to its fourth-generation competitors (Sega's Game Gear, Atari's Lynx, and NEC's TurboExpress), the Game Boy received praise for its battery life and durability in its construction. It quickly outsold the competition, [10] selling one million units in the United States within a few weeks. [11] The Game Boy and its successor, the Game Boy Color, [7] have sold an estimated 118 million units worldwide. [4] It is one of the most recognizable devices from the 1990s, becoming a cultural icon in the years following its release. Several redesigns were released during the console's lifetime, including the Game Boy Pocket in 1996 and the Game Boy Light in 1998 (Japan only). Production of the Game Boy continued into the early 2000s, even after the release of its successor, the Game Boy Advance, in 2001. Production ceased in 2003. [12]

Development

The original internal code name for the Game Boy was "Dot Matrix Game", and the initials DMG came to be featured on the final product's model number: "DMG-01". Internal reception of the console at Nintendo was initially very poor; the DMG even received the derogatory nickname "DameGame" from Nintendo employees, with dame (だめ) being Japanese for 'hopeless' or 'lame' in that context. [13]

Hardware

The standard gray cartridge for the original Game Boy games, although other colors and shapes exist Nintendo-Game-Boy-Cartridge.jpg
The standard gray cartridge for the original Game Boy games, although other colors and shapes exist

The Game Boy has four operation buttons labeled "A", "B", "SELECT", and "START", as well as a directional pad (d-pad). [14] There is a volume control dial on the right side of the device and a similar dial on the left side to adjust the contrast. [15] At the top of the Game Boy, a sliding on-off switch and the slot for the Game Boy cartridges are located. [16] The on-off switch includes a physical lockout to prevent users from either inserting or removing a cartridge while the unit is switched on. Nintendo recommends users leave a cartridge in the slot to prevent dust and dirt from entering the system. [17]

The Game Boy also contains optional input and/or output connectors. On the left side of the system is an external 3.5 mm × 1.35 mm DC power supply jack that allows users to use an external rechargeable battery pack or AC adapter (sold separately) instead of four AA batteries. [18] The Game Boy requires 6  V DC of at least 150  mA. [19] A 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack is located on the bottom side of the unit which allows users to listen to the audio with the bundled headphones or external speakers. [20]

The right-side of the device offers a port which allows a user to connect to another Game Boy system via a link cable, provided both users are playing the same game. [21] The port can also be used to connect a Game Boy Printer. The link cable was originally designed for players to play head-to-head two-player games such as in Tetris . However, game developer Satoshi Tajiri later used the link cable technology as a method of communication and networking in the popular Pokémon video game series. [22]

Technical specifications

Launch titles

Launch title JP NA EU Notes
Alleyway Green check.svgGreen check.svgGreen check.svg Breakout clone
Baseball Green check.svgGreen check.svgGreen check.svg Sports game
Super Mario Land Green check.svgGreen check.svgGreen check.svg Platform game in the Super Mario series
Tennis Dark Red x.svgGreen check.svgDark Red x.svg Sports game
Tetris Dark Red x.svgGreen check.svgGreen check.svgPort of the 1984 puzzle game
Yakuman Green check.svgDark Red x.svg [30] Dark Red x.svg [30] Mahjong game

Revisions

Play It Loud!

"Play It Loud!" transparent Game Boy, North American edition Game Boy Play It Loud! Transparent American Edition.png
"Play It Loud!" transparent Game Boy, North American edition

On March 20, 1995, Nintendo released several Game Boy models with colored cases, advertising them in the "Play It Loud!" campaign, [31] known in Japan as Game Boy Bros. [lower-alpha 2] Specifications for this unit remain exactly the same as the original Game Boy, including the monochromatic screen. This new line of colored Game Boys set a precedent for later Nintendo handhelds; every one of them since has been available in more than one color. Play It Loud! units were manufactured in red, green, black, yellow, white, blue, and clear (transparent) or sometimes called X-Ray in the UK. Most common are the yellow, red, clear and black, Green is fairly scarce but blue and white are the rarest. Blue was a Europe and Japan only release, White was a Japanese majority release with UK Toys R Us stores also getting it as an exclusive edition to them. The white remains the rarest of all the Play it Loud colors. A rare, limited edition Manchester United Game Boy is red, with the logos of the team emblazoned on it.[ citation needed ] It was released simultaneously with the Play it Loud! handhelds in the United Kingdom. The Play It Loud's screens also have a darker border than the normal Game Boy.

Game Boy Pocket

Game Boy Pocket, first release Game-Boy-Pocket-FL.jpg
Game Boy Pocket, first release

On July 21, 1996, Nintendo released the Game Boy Pocket for US$69.99 [32] : a smaller, lighter unit that required fewer batteries. It has space for two AAA batteries, which provide approximately 10 hours of gameplay. [33] The unit is also fitted with a 3 volt, 2.35 mm x 0.75 mm DC jack which can be used to power the system. The Pocket has a smaller link port, which requires an adapter to link with the older Game Boy. The port design is used on all subsequent Game Boy models, excluding the Game Boy Micro. The screen was changed to a true black-and-white display, rather than the "pea soup" monochromatic display of the original Game Boy. [34] Also, the Game Boy Pocket (GBP) has a larger screen than the Game Boy Color (GBC) that later superseded it. The GBP's screen has a 65 mm (2.56 in) diagonal, 48.5 mm (1.91 in) width, and 43.5 mm (1.71 in) height, compared to a 59 mm (2.32 in) diagonal for the GBC. Although like its predecessor, the Game Boy Pocket has no backlight to allow play in a darkened area, it did notably improve visibility and pixel response-time (mostly eliminating ghosting). [35] The first version did not have a power LED. This was soon added due to public demand, along with new Game Boy Pocket units of different colors (released on April 28, 1997), some of them new to the Game Boy line. There were several limited-edition Game Boy Pockets, including a gold-metal model exclusive to Japan. [36] The Game Boy Pocket was not a new software platform and played the same software as the original Game Boy model. [37]

Game Boy Light Game-Boy-Light-FL.jpg
Game Boy Light

A clear 'skeleton' Famitsu edition appeared in 1997, which had only 5,000 units released, and a clear yellow edition.[ citation needed ]

Game Boy Light

The Game Boy Light was released on April 14, 1998, only available in Japan. Like the Game Boy Pocket, the system was also priced at ¥6,800. The Game Boy Light is only slightly bigger than the Game Boy Pocket and features an electroluminescent backlight for low-light conditions. It uses 2 AA batteries, which gave it approximately 20 hours with the light off and 12 with it on. It was available in two standard colors, gold and silver. [38] It also received numerous special editions, including an Astro Boy edition with a clear case and a picture of Astro Boy on it, [39] an Osamu Tezuka World edition with a clear red case and a picture of his characters, [40] and a solid yellow Pokémon Center Tokyo version.

Reception

The original Game Boy lacked a backlight, so many third-party accessories were created to improve play in low-light conditions. Gameboylight accessory-addon.jpg
The original Game Boy lacked a backlight, so many third-party accessories were created to improve play in low-light conditions.

Though it was less technically advanced than the Lynx and other competitors, the Game Boy's excellent battery life and rugged hardware and the popularity of the bundled Tetris and other games made it much more successful. [41] In its first two weeks in Japan, from its release on April 21, 1989, the entire stock consisting of 300,000 units was sold; a few months later, the Game Boy's release in the United States on July 31, 1989, saw 40,000 units sold on its first day. [42] The Game Boy and Game Boy Color combined have sold 118.69 million units worldwide, with 32.47 million units in Japan, 44.06 million in the Americas, and 42.16 million in other regions. [4] By Japanese fiscal year 1997, before Game Boy Color's release in late-1998, the Game Boy alone had sold 64.42 million units worldwide. [4] [43] At a March 14, 1994 press conference in San Francisco, Nintendo vice president of marketing Peter Main answered queries about when Nintendo was coming out with a color handheld system by stating that sales of the Game Boy were strong enough that it had decided to hold off on developing a successor handheld for the near future. [44]

In 1995, Nintendo of America announced that 46% of Game Boy players were female, which was higher than the percentage of female players for both the Nintendo Entertainment System (29%) and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (14%). [45] In 2009, the Game Boy was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, 20 years after its introduction. [46] As of June 6, 2011, Game Boy and Game Boy Color games are available on the Virtual Console service on the Nintendo 3DS's Nintendo eShop. [47]

See also

Notes

  1. Japanese: ゲームボーイ Hepburn: Gēmubōi
  2. Japanese: /ゲームボーイブロス Hepburn: Gēmu Bōi Burosu, also known as ゲームボーイブラザース Gēmu Bōi Burazāsu

Related Research Articles

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