Game Boy 27th Anniversary Tribute Post
The Game Boy (Japanese: ゲームボーイ Hepburn: Gēmu Bōi) is an 8-bit handheld video game device developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It was released in Japan on April 21, 1989, in North America on July 31, 1989, and in Europe on September 28, 1990. It is the first handheld console in the Game Boy line, and was created by Gunpei Yokoi and Nintendo Research & Development 1—the same staff who had designed the Game & Watch series as well as several popular games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Redesigned versions were released in 1996 and 1998, in the form of Game Boy Pocket, and Game Boy Light (Japan only), respectively.
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The Game Boy is Nintendo’s second handheld system following the Game & Watch series introduced in 1980, and it combined features from both the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game & Watch. It was originally bundled with the puzzle game Tetris.
As part of the fourth generation of gaming, the Game Boy competed with the Sega Game Gear, Atari Lynx, and the TurboExpress. Despite these other handheld consoles, the Game Boy was a tremendous success. The Game Boy and its successor, the Game Boy Color, have both combined sold 118.69 million units worldwide. Upon its release in the United States, it sold its entire shipment of one million units within a few weeks.
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The Game Boy has four operation buttons labeled “A”, “B”, “SELECT”, and “START”, as well as a directional pad. There is a volume control dial on the right side of the console and a similar knob on the left side to adjust the contrast. At the top of the Game Boy, a sliding on-off switch and the slot for the Game Boy cartridges are located. The on-off switch includes a physical lockout to prevent users from either inserting or removing a cartridge while the unit is switched on. Nintendo recommends users leave a cartridge in the slot to prevent dust and dirt from entering the system.
The Game Boy also contains optional input and/or output connectors. On the left side of the system is an external 3.5mm x 1.35mm DC power supply jack that allows users to use an external rechargeable battery pack or AC adapter (sold separately) instead of four AA batteries. The Game Boy requires 6 V DC of at least 150 mA. A 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack is located on the bottom side of the console which allows users to listen to the audio with the bundled headphones or external speakers.
The right-side of the device offers a port which allows a user to connect to another Game Boy system via a link cable, provided both users are playing the same game. The port can also be used to connect a Game Boy Printer. The link cable was originally designed for players to play head-to-head two-player games such as in Tetris. However, game developer Satoshi Tajiri would later use the link cable technology as a method of communication and networking in the popular Pokémon video game series.
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The original internal codename for the Game Boy was “Dot Matrix Game”, which initials came to be featured on the final product’s model number, “DMG-001”. The internal reception of the device was initially very poor; the DMG even earned from Nintendo employees the derogatory nickname “DameGame”, dame being the Japanese for “hopeless” or “lame” in that context.
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In its first two weeks in Japan, from its release on April 21, 1989, the entire stock consisting of 300,000 units was sold; a few months later, the Game Boy’s release in the United States on July 31, 1989 saw 40,000 units sold on its first day. The Game Boy and Game Boy Color combined have sold 118.69 million units worldwide, with 32.47 million units in Japan, 44.06 million in the Americas, and 42.16 million in other regions. By Japanese fiscal year 1997, before Game Boy Color’s release in late-1998, the Game Boy alone had sold 64.42 million units worldwide. At a March 14, 1994 press conference in San Francisco, Nintendo vice president of marketing Peter Main answered queries about when Nintendo was coming out with a color handheld system by stating that sales of the Game Boy were strong enough that they had decided to hold off on developing a successor handheld for the near future.
In 1995, Nintendo of America announced that 46% of Game Boy players were female, which was higher than the percentage of female players for both the Nintendo Entertainment System (29%) and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (14%). In 2009, the Game Boy was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, 20 years after its introduction. As of June 6, 2011, Game Boy and Game Boy Color games are available on the Virtual Console service on the Nintendo 3DS’s Nintendo eShop.