The technology never ceases to amaze us and its advances have shown us that there are practically no limits to what can be achieved. Over time, many mouths have fallen silent and we have been able to enjoy creations that in other times were not only unthinkable, but considered impossible, such as cell phones or television. When the first portable devices such as the legendary Walkman or the first models of mobile phones emerged, a revolution occurred that leaned towards portability. It worked so well, that to date it continues to have a great impact and generates millions of sales.
When we talk about portable devices and think about the world of video games that we love so much, surely many examples come to mind. Among them, there is one that stands out for his legacy, for everything he contributed to the industry and for the hours of fun he represented for so many people. I’m talking, of course, about the Game Boy.
The first partition with a fantastic construction
This peculiar device, which appeared in Japan on April 21, 1989, quickly positioned itself as one of the preferred options of own and strangers. A phenomenon similar to the one we had years later with the Wii occurred: many people who had never been close to video games bought a Game Boy. I remember seeing several adults (I was 10 at the time) playing with a lot of passion and really having fun. That always caught my attention, since, in general, adults back then didn’t have a good opinion of video games. Those of us who played them were branded lazy and our neurons were said to die hopelessly with every Mario jump or every hadoken in Street Fighter II. Unfortunately, not everyone was as enthusiastic as Gus Rodríguez.
The original version had a wide, square shape, but felt comfortable holding it. I was always curious about the legend on screen mica: dot matrix with stereo sound; I was given a description of the highest technology and a very elegant way of defining the display mode of the console. Surely there is already a shirt with that phrase. If not, have someone do it, please. A detail that always seemed interesting to me is that, of the 4 sides of the Game Boy, only one is rounded. It’s those things that don’t really do much good, but contribute to the identity of the gadget. Another curious and logical feature is that Nintendo recommended leaving a cartridge inside the Game Boy at all times to prevent the slot from getting dirty or dusty. I don’t know about you, but I grew up with the idea that you should never leave cartridges, discs or tapes inside when you are not using the device in question, but in this case we had express authorization from the manufacturer to do so. You would have to ask them what they think about blowing the cartridges to make them work.
Although the one that interests us at the moment is the patriarch, it is important to mention that the Game Boy family is very large. It has 7 reviews in total, and the Game Boy Micro one of the most curious, in addition to being the last member of the line, which appeared in 2005.
Taking the pulp out of the concept
On its own, the Game Boy is a piece worthy of admiration, but Nintendo and some third parties went further and sought to give a twist to the functionality of the console. It is the gaming device with the most accessories that exists, some of them bordering on the absurd and many others fun and a little more useful.
One of the Game Boy’s big problems was the lack of proper lighting. You necessarily had to find a light source to get a good view of the screen, so several accessories soon appeared with a lamp and even a magnifying glass, such as the Light Boy made by Nintendo. It worked, but I needed additional batteries.
Although it was more bulky, it allowed you to play in the dark
The original Game Boy used 4 AA batteries, the power of which was sufficient for approximately 15 hours of play. This great performance was one of the many reasons for its success above its competitors. There was also an external charger and a cable to connect the console to the current in case there were no batteries on hand. Although it was not bad to have the option, playing that way broke a bit with the portable experience that characterized the device. If yours was ecology, you could use the solar charger and thus feel very responsible and civilized for taking care of the environment.
In 1994, Nintendo released the Super Game Boy, designed to play Game Boy titles on the Super Nintendo. As the big N usually does, it not only gave us the ability to play, but to add colors and manipulate the appearance of the interface. I think that within the mosaic of existing Game Boy accessories, the Super Game Boy is one of the best and most useful. Later the Game Boy Player came out, with the same function, but intended to be used with the Gamecube. In this case, the Game Boy Advance titles have already been included in the compatibility list.
Other 2 with which you could do interesting things were the Game Boy Camera and the Game Boy Printer. The quality was very low, but as a concept it was striking. Obviously, Nintendo couldn’t keep just that, so it included mini-games where you could use your own image as an avatar. That possibility was seen again years later with the Nintendo 3DS and its augmented reality games.
For those who prefer to play on TV
Already in areas that are out of proportion we have the Game Boy Pocket Sonar, which you could take with you when you went fishing and helped you locate fish more easily. On the other hand, the one that takes the palms is the Game Boy PediSedate, which was tested to put children to sleep before surgery. It never went on sale, but it was patented. Here you can see more details.
Tetris: the perfect complement
The very idea of being able to play a kind of NES on a portable already sounded great, but Nintendo went further and made one of the best marketing decisions in its history: include Tetris in the package. It was a port of the original 1984 game developed by Alexey Pajitnov, but the Game Boy version is undoubtedly one of the best and most played. As I mentioned before, even moms and dads asked their children for the device to make some lines. Nintendo’s second handheld console helped catapult Tetris into a place among the best-selling titles in history. On the other hand, Tetris was key to driving sales of the Game Boy and that it became one of the most successful Nintendo releases. It was a win-win relationship. I recommend the Tetris documentary made by the Gaming Historian, in which he delves into the origins and development of this revolutionary concept that continues to date.
At this point we can say that there is no way you are wrong with Tetris. It is a phenomenon. I couldn’t help but play a game while writing this text. It seems strange, but despite the time, it has aged very well. Monochrome graphics and signature music continue to give the experience a lot of punch. Tetris has been present on a large number of consoles and platforms, but the Game Boy has been its best headquarters.
La carnita: the games
The Game Boy has an impressive catalog of more than 1,000 titles. Many of them are decaf versions of their NES counterparts, but there are others that stood out and continue to resonate on the current gamer stage. One of the most iconic is The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The remake was recently released for the Nintendo Switch and it’s a great version, but the original is a work of art that many classify as the best Zelda. It is a Link adventure in portable format that came after 2 deliveries of NES and one of SNES. The Zelda franchise was already more than positioned, so it had to have a place on the laptop. I remember that the first approach I had with that game was through a friend who brought his Game Boy to school. Despite the technical limitations, I really liked seeing Link in that concept. It is not my favorite Zelda, but I recognize its value.
Given the popularity and resounding success of the Game Boy, it was evident that many of the existing sagas were going to make the leap to the small screen, as happened with Metroid, Castlevania, Mario and Contra. From here comes another of the standards of the console: Super Mario Land. Like Zelda, Mario had already earned a place in the hearts of gamers around the world, so taking one of his adventures in his pocket was an idea that sold itself. A sequel with higher quality came in every way that drove sales even further: Super Mario Land 2 – 6 Golden Coins. In this case, there was a history of Super Mario World, so the concept went in that direction.
Although it is strange, it is still a good Mario game
A console out of this world
Guinness records record Aleksandr Serebrov, a Russian cosmonaut who took his Game Boy and his copy of Tetris on his journey as the first person to play a video game in space, moving the tetriminos and trying to position them properly while his ship orbited the earth. The Game Boy is the video game console that has gone the furthest, there is no doubt. One more reason to be attached to him.
I recognize how significant the Game Boy is to the industry in general, but I must confess that at the time I was not very interested in having it. Here is a confession that might surprise many: Although I played the most representative games, I never bought a portable Nintendo console until the Nintendo DS appeared. For some reason I always preferred, at least at that time, to play on the television. Nowadays, the quality of the platforms to carry like the PlayStation Vita or the Nintendo Switch has risen a lot and I have no problem, but I honestly say that, without questioning the quality of the games or the device itself, it never caught me. I started playing Game Boy much later, although I did witness the great impact it had for so long.
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See you in the next #FridayRetro.
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