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Game Boy 25th Anniversary: The beginning of the portable revolution

This is the original Game Boy.
Nintendo

July 31st marks the 25th Anniversary of the American launch of the original Game Boy. Needless to say, this month will be dedicated to covering everything Game Boy related. There will be articles on hardware, games, and even reminiscing about memories courtesy of this writer, friends, and anonymous write-ins from readers. To begin, let’s look at a little retrospective on the Game Boy’s design.

It, despite what some may think, was not the first portable game system just like the NES was not the first console. That said the GB popularized portable systems, again, just like the NES made home consoles attractive. Looking back, the original GB is kind of terrible. It ate batteries like this writer eats cake. It’s bulky, heavy, and that green screen wasn’t the most attractive color to look at. A lot of the games looked weird on the system as well. Companies, at that point, hadn’t figured out exactly how to size their sprites.

Take Metroid 2 and Mario Land 2 for example. Both great games, but the size of the characters compared to everything else in the game is too big. They ate half the screen! Imagine if developers made this same choice with NES games and Mario took up that space on the TV.

So sure, the GB had its faults and it was nowhere near perfect, but it was a great accomplishment for the time. The original Nintendo revitalized the video game market after the Atari crash. Without the NES who knows where the video game industry would be today. The same can be said for portable gaming and the Game Boy.

Old technology always looks weird in comparison. Cell phones are minuscule compared to their gargantuan first stage productions in the 80s. So while the Game Boy may be funny to laugh at, for it’s time, it was a revolution right in the palm of one's hand. It was the beginning for this writer’s love, but that, is for another time.