Why People Fondly Remember Nintendo’s Game Boy

In 1989, Nintendo couldn’t do much wrong. Four years later the company’s first console, the NES, it had racked up almost 28 million system sales all over the world and almost single-handedly rejuvenated the failing American video game market. In the previous year Nintendo had expanded its business with a hit magazine, Nintendo Power. However the NES was getting old and Nintendo wasn’t really ready to introduce its successor.

In order to preserve momentum, Nintendo needed another thing — a new device which would expand the market as well as reinforce its hold on the youth of the world. The Game Boy would be that ‘it’ thing: a successor to the ageing Game & Watch product range and a handheld sibling to the NES, with interchangeable cartridges, a stripped-back colour palette in addition to an equivalent button layout.

In Japan, the Game Boy would be a very easy sell. It was as ideal a device for children and the common salaryman, a system to play on the go in a fast-paced culture. Outside Japan – well, that was Nintendo of America’s problem — a challenge that NoA would prove far more than capable of solving, with a little assistance along the way from Tetris and Pokémon.

A History Of The Game Boy

The Game Boy was the beginning of the Game Boy lineage. This included its release in 1989, the Game Boy Color in 1998 as well as the Game Boy Advance in 2001.

The Game Boy would feature a number of popular titles, some of which would have a deep impact on gaming, including the likes of:

  • Tetris
  • Kirby’s Dreamland
  • Pokémon

Pokémon even made the ageing handheld a bestseller again based on the hype. During the troubled N64 age, the handheld RPG series would assist to keep Nintendo afloat while also demonstrating that the company that older technology are still able to dominate in sales, a trend continued on with the Nintendo DS and the Wii.

When first demonstrated as a prototype in 1987, global Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi was of the belief that the unit could sell 25 million units in three years.  The unit did far better than expected, selling 32 million units by the end of the three-year deadline.

After the release of music titles Nanoloop, by Oliver Wittchow, and Johan Kotlinski’s Little Sound DJ, the chiptunes society has taken a shine to the Game Boy, further boosting the handheld’s popularity as well as longevity.

In 2009, the Game Boy was inaugurated into the US National Toy Hall of Fame and today, it remains as popular as the games you can wager on at Australian esports betting sites.

The Game Boy was also the best-selling item which was created by Nintendo R&D1 head Gunpei Yokoi.  Yokoi developed a lot of popular items and even helped pioneer the D-Pad as well as create the Beam Gun with Masayuki Uemura, a precursor of the NES Zapper.  Subsequent to the Game Boy, Yokoi went on to create the Virtual Boy before leaving Nintendo in 1996 and then forming Koto Laboratories, where he made a deal with Bandai to assist with developing the Wonderswan before his tragic death on 4 October 1997.