Celebrating the Gamboy

Pocket gaming, a long time a go was an object of dreams, all we had to settle with was pretty ugly boxes that sat under the TV and played massively expensive cartridges. Wouldn’t it be great if you could take your gaming with you, put it in your pocket, lay on the beach, sit on the train and have all the gaming goodness where ever you wanted? Well The big wigs over at Atari, Sega and Nintendo all had the same idea and proceeded to launch a new wave of console gaming.

This was the hand-held generation. Nintendo had done this before of course with the game and watch series, but these were just one game on a LCD screen, now was the time for interchangeable games. Atari bought the elephatine beast  that was the Lynx, although the most powerful of all the hand helds, it was also the most rubbish. Having superior graphics and sound meant it ran on 6 great big batteries, and was the size of an elephant. Then the was the Sega Game Gear, basically a Master System in your pocket, again this was quite hefty in size and took 6 batteries, which didn’t last very long, especially if you had the TV tuner plugged in.

Nintendo cracked it with the game boy, a simple dot matrix monotone game system that worked, took only 4 batteries and was the smallest of the handhelds. With this small and underpowered little machine Nintendo dominated the hand-held war and hasn’t looked back since.

The Gamboy (and all its iterations) is both Massive and small all at Once, The Game boy has defied the march of time, soaring to become the all-time world champion of video gaming. Playstation?, Xbox? forget about it. Nintendo’s pocket battleship  as conquered more than 100 million bag, jackets and combat pockets since setting sail in 1989 (yes it was that long ago) including eight million in the UK. Twenty-plus flavours of the platform have hit the shelves over the last decade, not to mention the ingenious and hilarious camera and printer.

Gameboy’s range of 1,000 games has shifted 400 million cartridges worldwide, generating billions of pounds for he big N and its cohorts. Stacked in a hypothetical pile, the 8mm-thick carts would tower  some 3,200km into space. And while there are incalculable  kilometres of utter toilet in the pile, countless more consist of true classics – not least the game which must rate as the number one killer app in the history if video gaming: Tetris.

Pajiynov’s devastatingly  addictive puzzle game was what gave  Game Boy and appeal far beyond Nintendo’s traditional demographic. Not that the younger players have been ignored; in one word, Pokemon.

But all good things must come to and end On August 24 2000 Nintendo announced the game boy advance, a 32bit widescreen iteration of its handheld. which was to be the end of the beloved Game Boy as we know it. While Game Boy Classic, Pocket, light and Colour added some extra shelf life, Video gaming and technology were changing and something more powerful was needed. The Advance kept the same ethos as its bigger brother, cheap portable gaming. and with this, it continued he domination of the hand-held market. Now of course you have the iphone, PSP as well as Nintendo’s spiritual successor to the Advance the Nintendo DS. but this was the start of a new era for Nintendo, the era of casual gaming. Rumour has it that there is a new Game Boy in the works. I wonder if this will have the success as previous Game Boys as now they have some serious competition.


1 Response to “Celebrating the Gamboy”

  1. 1 jonlyus
    December 21, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Love this look back on the great white brick. I remember it coming out around Christmas and everyone in the world buying one – and I think this was the first time parents saw gaming as something for them as well as their kids. So strange to think it’s 20 years old but its legacy is with us today in the games we play on the DS and PSP but also the casual gaming aspect.

    All hail to the little ‘ping’ that you heard when it was turned on. Brilliant.

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