Game Boy Turns 25 Years Old

Happy birthday, old timer!

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 04/21/2014 18:00 5 Comments     ShareThis

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Nintendo’s first true portable video game system. While the Game and Watch series had provided gamers with a potable option prior, nothing up to that point had been able to simulate the true experience of home console gaming. Released in Japan on April 21, 1989, Gunpei Yokoi’s handheld device, the Nintendo Game Boy, changed all that. Game Boy owners could experience games far deeper than anything the Game and Watch could provide, and the response was unprecedented. The Game Boy was an unmitigated success right from the start. Suddenly, gamers could enjoy Nintendo classics on school buses, airplanes, college campuses, military bases, and more.

Right out of the gate, the Game Boy faced stiff competition. The Atari Lynx and Sega Game Gear both released early into the system’s lifespan. With color graphics and backlit screens, they each presented a credible threat. Game Boy, however, managed to outlast all of its competitors thanks to early AAA titles like Tetris, Super Mario Land, and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The handheld’s biggest success wouldn’t come until much later, however. In the late nineties, Pok√©mon was released to universal acclaim and provided the system with its biggest standalone seller ever.

No video game system before or after enjoyed a shelf life as long and lucrative as the Game Boy. While remodels in every size and color were offered throughout the system’s lifespan, the majority of the titles available remained playable on the system’s olive green-colored original screen. Between the Game Boy, Game Boy Pocket, and Game Boy Color, the handheld sold close to 120 million units worldwide and in 2009, it was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

Over the last several years, Nintendo’s home consoles have faced stiff challenges. The same cannot be said in the handheld market, however. Over-and-over again, analysts have predicted hard times for Nintendo with the rise of cell phone gaming, and Sony’s own entrance into the handheld market with PlayStation Vita. But Nintendo has continued to succeed in the handheld market in ways that no one else can even approach. While the Game Boy name has all but been retired, its legacy proudly lives on in Nintendo 3DS.

What are some of your favorite memories of the Game Boy? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Responses to “Game Boy Turns 25 Years Old”

  • 1294 points
    Robert Marrujo says...

    Nintendo’s handhelds hold a very special place in my heart. I started collecting some of the different colored Game Boys about a year ago, and I decided to take them out to play during my commute. Talk about a throwback! I didn’t know how the heck I even played on those screens, back in the day. I was spoiled by the backlit screens of today, but after a couple days of forced readjustment, I got back into the groove. What a different world.

  • 45 points
    Oranje says...

    I’ve gotten back to picking up all of the titles from all of Nintendo’s handhelds I could never get before I had a salary. Three to go from the original toaster.

    Played a few rounds of Tetris today, just for the nostalgia. I was amazed at how much easier the screen was to see without a light than the GBC or GBA. Motocross Maniacs, you’re next!

  • 819 points
    Toadlord says...

    I told my friend about this news when I saw this article. Here’s his response:

    “Man, people our age are getting engaged and starting careers, but none of that hit me harder than hearing the Game Boy is turning 25”

  • 111 points
    roykoopa64 says...

    I have too many good memories to be able to start picking some of my favorite moments with the original Game Boy. I was lucky enough to get one for Christmas when I was a kid, and I took it with me everywhere I went.

    I’ll never forget the yearly trips I made with my family to visit relatives in Mexico and playing games like Super Mario Land at my grandma’s house, or showing my cousins SML2. I remember taking a long school field trip and playing Tetris, Mega Man, Metroid II, on the bus (I dind’t own all those games; several classmates carried their own Game Boys and we swapped games to play). I’ll never forget the Christmas I got TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan. I remember how important it was to carry the Light Boy, an accessory with a light attached so I could play in the dark!

    OK, I think my fondest memory is simply playing Link’s Awakening on one of those family trips. I was so engrossed with the game and the tale of Koholint Island.

  • 207 points
    Jon Stevens says...

    The worst thing now about going back and playing the Gameboy is the lack of a built in light in the screen. It’s something that I remember constantly annoyed me (I even got a magnifier/light to remedy this) and something that people don’t even think about today with portables.

    Fantastic games on it though, not least of which was the original Pokemon!

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