An original Game Boy
|Product family||Game Boy family|
|Type||Handheld game console|
|Discontinued||March 23, 2003|
|Units sold||Worldwide: 118.69 millionincluding Game Boy (Play it Loud!), Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light and Game Boy Color units|
|CPU||Sharp LR35902 core @ 4.19 MHz|
|Display||LCD 160 × 144 pixels, 47 × 43 mm|
|Power||4 × AA batteries (original)|
|Best-selling game||Tetris, 30.26 million (pack-in/separately)|
|Predecessor||Game & Watch|
|Successor||Game Boy Color|
The Game Boy[a] 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.
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: Super Mario Land or Tetris among them. Several accessories were also developed, including a carrying pouch and printer.
Despite being technically 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, selling one million units in the United States within a few weeks. The Game Boy and its successor, the Game Boy Color, have sold an estimated 118 million units worldwide. 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 (1996) and the Game Boy Light (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.
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 () being Japanese for 'hopeless' or 'lame' in that context.
|Launch Title||Japan||North America||Europe||Notes|
|Super Mario Land||Yes||Yes||Yes||Platform game in Super Mario series|
|Tetris||No||Yes||Yes||Port of the 1984 puzzle game|
The Game Boy has four operation buttons labeled "A", "B", "SELECT", and "START", as well as a directional pad (d-pad). 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. At the top of the Game Boy, a sliding on-off switch and the slot for the Game Boy cartridges are located. 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.
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. The Game Boy requires 6 V DC of at least 150 mA. 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.
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. 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 would later use the link cable technology as a method of communication and networking in the popular Pokémon video game series.
On March 20, 1995, Nintendo released several Game Boy models with colored cases, advertising them in the "Play It Loud!" campaign, known in Japan as Game Boy Bros.[b] Specifications for this unit remain exactly the same as the original Game Boy, including the monochromatic screen. This new line of colored Game Boys would 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. 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.
On July 21, 1996, Nintendo released the Game Boy Pocket: a smaller, lighter unit that required fewer batteries. It has space for two AAA batteries, which provide approximately 10 hours of gameplay. 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. 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). 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. The Game Boy Pocket was not a new software platform and played the same software as the original Game Boy model.
A clear 'skeleton' Famitsu edition appeared in 1997, which had only 5,000 units released, and a clear yellow edition.
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. It also received numerous special editions, including an Astro Boy edition with a clear case and a picture of Astro Boy on it, an Osamu Tezuka World edition with a clear red case and a picture of his characters, and a solid yellow Pokémon Center Tokyo version.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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%). In 2009, the Game Boy was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, 20 years after its introduction. 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.
A team headed by Gumpei Yokoi [sic] designed the Game Boy. Yokoi had previously designed hand held games for Nintendo with the cartridge based Game & Watch system, introduced in 1980. His staff, called Research and Development (R and D) team #1, had designed the successful NES games Metroid and Kid Icarus. What Yokoi's team did was create a hybrid of the NES and the Game & Watch systems.
Eventually the Lynx was squeezed out of the picture and the handheld market was dominated by the Nintendo GameBoy with the Sega Game Gear a distant second.
Pokémon allowed more than metaphorical communication; it made use of a system that created actual communication -- a network game.
Game Boy and Game Boy Color's combined lifetime sales reached 118.7 million worldwide, according to Nintendo's latest annual report.