On April 21, 1989, Nintendo premiered its first-ever version of the handheld Game Boy, and today, the toy turns a quarter century old. The console, created in Japan at the end of the 1980s, was leagues ahead of any other portable handheld gaming device on the market at the time. It garnered massive attention and popularity, outselling most other gaming devices on the shelves. To date, Nintendo has sold over 118 million units of the original version of the Game Boy and the Game Boy Color, which was the original Game Boy’s successor released toward the end of 1998 – nearly a decade later. According to Nintendo, the brand has also sold 501 million units of Game Boy software.
Most gamers who purchased the original Game Boy model in 1989 would likely also remember that the unit came coupled with an addictive puzzle game, Tetris. This game became an instant classic which ended up even being built into some cellular phone models until just a few years ago when the rise of the smartphone began. Versions of the game are still available to download in the app store.
In 1994, Nintendo introduced the Super Game Boy to players, which essentially allowed the gamers to view what they were doing on a TV screen with a bit of color added in by using a plug-in. Nintendo has developed a knack to this day for constantly improving and developing its gaming systems, a concept that seems to have begun with the ever-evolving versions of the original Game Boy.
The year 2001 would later see the release of the more state-of-the-art Game Boy Advance. This console has now sold more than 81 million units worldwide. During the rise and peak of Nintendo’s popularity, however, other brands did try hard to challenge and overthrow its reign as the king of the most popular handheld gaming device, especially with the release of the Game Boy color. Other well-known gaming brands, such as Sega and Atari, tried to match the success of Nintendo’s Game Boys by releasing or making improvements to products such as the Game Gear and the Lynx, but to no avail. Nintendo continued to hold the top spot for a number of reasons, including affordable cost, longer lasting battery life, better durability and so on.
The demand for the games released for the original device in the 1990s was always high. During its time of popularity, 800 games were released for the original Game Boy, which turns a quarter century old today. A huge range of games was made available to players, from Mario to Zelda to FIFA Soccer to Street Fighter. The year 1996 saw the release of Pokemon Red and Blue, one of the most sought-after games ever, with the Pokemon franchise at the height of its popularity at the time, and ultimately rising to multi-billion dollar success. Nintendo’s full capabilities were realized at this point.
Game Boy is turning a quarter century old today. Generation Xers or Millenials, any good memories or favorite games?
By Laura Clark