Game Boy

Game Boy
Gameboy logo.svg
Game-Boy-FL.jpg
An original Game Boy
Developer Nintendo R&D1
Manufacturer Nintendo
Product family Game Boy line
Type Handheld game console
Generation Fourth generation
Release date
  • JP: April 21, 1989[2]
  • NA: July 31, 1989[1]
  • EU: September 28, 1990
Lifespan 1989–2003
Introductory price ¥12,500[citation needed]
US$89.95[3]
Discontinued March 23, 2003[4]
Units sold Worldwide: 118.69 million[4] including Game Boy (Play it Loud!), Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light and Game Boy Color units)
Media ROM cartridge
CPU Sharp LR35902 core @ 4.19 MHz
Display LCD 160 × 144 pixels, 47 × 43 mm[5]
Power 4 × AA batteries (original)
Best-selling game Tetris, 30.26 million (pack-in/separately)[6]
Predecessor Game & Watch
Successor Game Boy Color[7]

The Game Boy[a][b] is an 8-bit handheld game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo. The first handheld in the Game Boy line, it was first released in Japan on April 21, 1989 (1989-04-21), then North America, three months later, and lastly in Europe, nearly a year after. It was designed by the same team that developed the Game & Watch and several Nintendo Entertainment System games: Satoru Okada, Gunpei Yokoi, and Nintendo Research & Development 1.[8] [9]

Nintendo's second handheld game console, the Game Boy combines features from both the NES home system and Game & Watch hardware. The console features a dull green dot-matrix screen with adjustable contrast dial, five control buttons (a directional pad, two game buttons, and start and select), a 2-voice speaker with adjustable volume dial, and, like its rivals, uses cartridges as physical media for games. The color scheme is made from two tones of grey with accents of black, blue, and maroon. All the corners of the portrait-oriented rectangular unit are softly rounded, save for the bottom right, which is curved. At launch, it was sold either as a standalone unit, or bundled with the one of several games: Super Mario Land or Tetris among them. Several accessories were also developed, including a carrying pouch and printer.

Despite being technically inferior to its fourth-generation competitors (Sega's Game Gear, Atari's Lynx, and NEC's TurboExpress), the Game Boy received praise for its battery life and durability in its construction. It quickly outsold the competition,[10] selling one million units in the United States within a few weeks.[11] The Game Boy and its successor, the Game Boy Color,[7] have sold an estimated 118 million units worldwide.[4] It is one of the most recognizable devices from the 1980s, becoming a cultural icon in the years following its release. Several redesigns were released during the console's lifetime, including the Game Boy Pocket (1996) and the Game Boy Light (1998; Japan only). Production of the Game Boy continued into the early 2000s, and eventually stopped after release of its successor, the Game Boy Advance, in 2001.[12]

Development

The original internal code name for the Game Boy was "Dot Matrix Game", and the initials DMG came to be featured on the final product's model number: "DMG-01". Internal reception of the console at Nintendo was initially very poor; the DMG even received the derogatory nickname "DameGame" from Nintendo employees, with dame being Japanese for 'hopeless' or 'lame' in that context.[13]

Launch titles

Launch Title Japan North America Europe Notes
Super Mario Land Yes Yes Yes Platform game in Super Mario series
Alleyway Yes Yes Yes Breakout clone
Baseball Yes Yes Yes Sports game, port of 1984 NES game
Yakuman Yes No[14] No[14] Mahjong game
Tetris No Yes Yes Port of the 1984 puzzle game
Tennis No Yes No Sports game, port of 1984 NES game

Hardware

The standard gray cartridge for the original Game Boy games, although other colors and shapes exist

The Game Boy has four operation buttons labeled "A", "B", "SELECT", and "START", as well as a directional pad (d-pad).[15] There is a volume control dial on the right side of the device and a similar dial on the left side to adjust the contrast.[16] At the top of the Game Boy, a sliding on-off switch and the slot for the Game Boy cartridges are located.[17] 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.[18]

The Game Boy also contains optional input and/or output connectors. On the left side of the system is an external 3.5 mm × 1.35 mm DC power supply jack that allows users to use an external rechargeable battery pack or AC adapter (sold separately) instead of four AA batteries.[19] The Game Boy requires 6 V DC of at least 150 mA.[20] A 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack is located on the bottom side of the unit which allows users to listen to the audio with the bundled headphones or external speakers.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23]

Technical specifications

  • CPU: Custom 8-bit Sharp LR35902[24][25] at 4.19 MHz. This processor is similar to an Intel 8080 in that none of the registers introduced in the Z80 are present. However, some of the Z80's instruction set enhancements over the 8080, particularly bit manipulation, are present. Features removed from the Intel 8080 instruction set include the parity flag, half of the conditional jumps, and I/O instructions. I/O is instead performed through memory load/store instructions. Still, several features are added relative to both the 8080 and the Z80, most notably new load/store instructions to optimize access to memory-mapped registers. The IC also contains integrated sound generation.
  • RAM: 8 KiB internal S-RAM (can be extended up to 32 KiB)
  • Video RAM: 8 KiB internal
  • ROM: On-CPU-Die 256-byte bootstrap;[26] 32 KiB, 256 KiB, 512 KiB, 1 MiB, 2 MiB, 4 MiB and 8 MiB cartridges
  • Sound: 2 pulse wave generators, 1 PCM 4-bit wave sample (64 4-bit samples played in 1×64 bank or 2×32 bank) channel, 1 noise generator, and one audio input from the cartridge.[27] The unit only has one speaker, but the headphone port outputs stereo sound.
  • Display: Reflective STN LCD[28] 160 × 144 pixels
  • Frame rate: Approximately 59.7 frames per second
  • Vertical blank duration: Approx 1.1 ms[29]
  • Screen size: 66 mm (2.6 in) diagonal
  • Color palette: 2-bit (4 shades of "gray" {light to very dark olive green}) (Reference:  0x0  0x1  0x2  0x3  (Pocket:  0x0  0x1  0x2  0x3 ))
  • Communication: 2 Game Boys can be linked together via built-in serial ports, up to 4 with a DMG-07 4-player adapter. And 16 in maximum.
  • Power: 6 V, 0.7 W (4 AA batteries provide approximately 15 hours of gameplay)[28]
  • Dimensions: 90 mm (W) × 148 mm (H) × 32 mm (D) / 3.5″ × 5.8″ × 1.3″[28]
  • Weight: 220 g[30]

Revisions

Play It Loud!

"Play It Loud!" transparent Game Boy, North American edition

On March 20, 1995, Nintendo released several Game Boy models with colored cases, advertising them in the "Play It Loud!" campaign,[31] known in Japan as Game Boy Bros.[c] Specifications for this unit remain exactly the same as the original Game Boy, including the monochromatic screen. This new line of colored Game Boys would set a precedent for later Nintendo handhelds; every one of them since has been available in more than one color. Play It Loud! units were manufactured in red, green, black, yellow, white, blue, and clear (transparent) or sometimes called X-Ray in the UK. Most common are the yellow, red, clear and black, Green is fairly scarce but blue and white are the rarest. Blue was a Europe and Japan only release, White was a Japanese majority release with UK Toys R Us stores also getting it as an exclusive edition to them. The white remains the rarest of all the Play it Loud colors. A rare, limited edition Manchester United Game Boy is red, with the logos of the team emblazoned on it.[citation needed] It was released simultaneously with the Play it Loud! handhelds in the United Kingdom. The Play It Loud's screens also have a darker border than the normal Game Boy.

Game Boy Pocket

Game Boy Pocket, first release

In July 21, 1996, Nintendo released the Game Boy Pocket: a smaller, lighter unit that required fewer batteries. It has space for two AAA batteries, which provide approximately 10 hours of gameplay.[32] The unit is also fitted with a 3 volt, 2.35 mm x 0.75 mm DC jack which can be used to power the system. The Pocket has a smaller link port, which requires an adapter to link with the older Game Boy. The port design is used on all subsequent Game Boy models, excluding the Game Boy Micro. The screen was changed to a true black-and-white display, rather than the "pea soup" monochromatic display of the original Game Boy.[33] Also, the Game Boy Pocket (GBP) has a larger screen than the Game Boy Color (GBC) that later superseded it. The GBP's screen has a 65 mm (2.56 in) diagonal, 48.5 mm (1.91 in) width, and 43.5 mm (1.71 in) height, compared to a 59 mm (2.32 in) diagonal for the GBC. Although like its predecessor, the Game Boy Pocket has no backlight to allow play in a darkened area, it did notably improve visibility and pixel response-time (mostly eliminating ghosting).[34] The first version did not have a power LED. This was soon added due to public demand, along with new Game Boy Pocket units of different colors (released on April 28, 1997), some of them new to the Game Boy line. There were several limited-edition Game Boy Pockets, including a gold-metal model exclusive to Japan.[35] The Game Boy Pocket was not a new software platform and played the same software as the original Game Boy model.[36]

Game Boy Light

A clear 'skeleton' Famitsu edition appeared in 1997, which had only 5,000 units released, and a clear yellow edition.[citation needed]

Game Boy Light

The Game Boy Light was released on April 14, 1998, only available in Japan. Like the Game Boy Pocket, the system was also priced at ¥6,800. The Game Boy Light is only slightly bigger than the Game Boy Pocket and features an electroluminescent backlight for low-light conditions. It uses 2 AA batteries, which gave it approximately 20 hours with the light off and 12 with it on. It was available in two standard colors, gold and silver.[37] It also received numerous special editions, including an Astro Boy edition with a clear case and a picture of Astro Boy on it,[38] an Osamu Tezuka World edition with a clear red case and a picture of his characters,[39] and a solid yellow Pokémon Center Tokyo version.

Reception

The original Game Boy lacked a backlight, so many third-party add-ons were created to improve play in low light conditions.

Though it was less technically advanced than the Lynx and other competitors, the Game Boy's excellent battery life and rugged hardware and the popularity of the bundled Tetris and other games made it much more successful.[40] 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.[41] 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.[4] 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.[4][42] 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 it had decided to hold off on developing a successor handheld for the near future.[43]

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%).[44] In 2009, the Game Boy was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, 20 years after its introduction.[45] 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.[46]

See also

Copyright