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Game Boy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Game Boy is a handheld game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo, released in 1989 at $89.95 USD[1]. The Game Boy was the first successful handheld console, and was the predecessor of all other iterations of the Game Boy line.

The Game Boy was originally bundled with the puzzle game Tetris, since Nintendo thought that an addictive puzzle game would get consumers' attention.



A screenshot from Tetris (1989) for Game Boy.
A screenshot from Tetris (1989) for Game Boy.
Main article: List of games for the original Game Boy

One of the top-selling games for the Game Boy was Tetris, which sold about 3 million copies[2] and is an example of a killer game. Tetris was packaged with the Game Boy, and often, consumers were buying the Game Boy so as to play Tetris[3].


The Game Boy's main controls are located on the lower half of its front frame.

Like the NES controller, the Game Boy has four face buttons labelled "A," "B," "SELECT," and "START." The functions of these face buttons vary from game to game, though generally, the START button is used as a "pause" function to temporarily stop gameplay. The Game Boy also features a Directional Pad, allowing up to eight directions of movement in its games.

Outside of buttons used in gameplay, there is a volume control knob on the right side of the console, and a similar knob to change the contrast on the left side. The ON/OFF switch is located at the top of the Game Boy[4].


The right side of the Game Boy, showing the volume control and the link cable port.
The right side of the Game Boy, showing the volume control and the link cable port.

The Game Boy contains the following input/output connectors:

  • A power input, located on the left side of the handheld console. This is used primarily with the Game Boy Battery Pack / AC Adapter to allow the Game Boy to run off either the pack, or standard AC power. The adapter input varies according to region due to differences in mains power standards; for example a North American adapter (being 120 volts AC at 60 hertz, and 4 watts of power) would not work correctly if used with European supplies, which are typically 230 volts. The output however is always 6 volts DC at 250mA[4].
  • A link cable port, located on the right side. It connects two Game Boy handheld consoles, and transfers information between two games of the same type or same series. This was widely used in games such as Pokémon.
  • A 3.5mm stereo headphone jack output is located on the bottom side of the console.
  • An input for Game Boy cartridges (also called Game Paks) is situated on top of the Game Boy.

Sales and competition

The success of the Game Boy is exhibited in one way by its expansive and successful line of consoles. For instance, the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance have reached worldwide sales figures of 49 million (as of December 2004) and 75 million (as of June 2006), respectively. The original Game Boy sold roughly 70 million units worldwide.

At the time of its release in 1989, the Atari Lynx, also known as the "Handy," was also just being introduced to the market. This system featured color graphics, a backlit screen, and networking capabilities.[5] Nevertheless, its release price of $179, substantial requirement of 6 AA batteries that would provide roughly four hours of gameplay (compared to 10-12 on the Game Boy), physical bulkiness, and other factors doomed it to a second-rate status[6].

In the 1990s, Nintendo experienced heavier competition from Sega's Game Gear. To promote its new, color console, Sega aired a number of negative but unsuccessful ad campaigns in the United States that criticized the Game Boy's monochrome color palette. Nonetheless, the Game Gear suffered from generally the same problems that the Lynx did.


The Game Boy Battery Pack / AC Adapter
The Game Boy Battery Pack / AC Adapter

Several variations of the original Game Boy were produced:

  • Super Game Boy (compatibility adapter to accommodate showing the screen on a TV via the Super NES)
  • Game Boy Pocket (a smaller version of the Game Boy)
  • Game Boy Light (first backlight in the Game Boy line)


Several accessories compatible with the Game Boy were also produced:

  • The Game Boy Battery Pack (or AC Adapter), sold for about $30 USD, was roughly 3 in. long, 2 in. wide, and 0.5 in. thick. One end of it had a 2 inch-long cord, ending in a 3.5 mm phone plug, while the other end had a standard two-pin plug. The first version of it was gray with purple lettering, to match the colors used on the Game Boy. It also featured a belt clip. The battery pack was good for several hours of gameplay per charge, providing an alternative to purchasing more AA batteries once their power was exhausted. The product used nickel-cadmium batteries, lasted about 4-5 hours per charge, and could be charged roughly 1000 times before a significant loss in effectiveness. A major drawback of the battery pack was its weight, as well as the way the phone plug sticks out prominently.[7]
  • Game Boy Camera (Japan: Pocket Camera)
Main article: Game Boy Camera
Released in 1998, the Game Boy Camera was able to take pictures that could be printed out using the Game Boy Printer. The photos were in black and white only, and the resolution of the pictures was 128 x 123. Both the Game Boy Camera and Game Boy Printer products were marketed together in Japan, the U.S., and Europe, primarily towards children. It is no longer in production by Nintendo.
  • Game Boy Printer
Main article: Game Boy Printer
Released at the same time as the Game Boy Camera, the Game Boy Printer was a thermal printer. It ran off of six AA batteries. In addition to printing out Game Boy Camera photos, it also ran in conjunction with several Game Boy games, such as Pokémon Yellow and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX.
  • Game Boy Link Cable
Main article: Game Link cable
An accessory that established a data connection between two Game Boys using the same game or game from the same series. It is generally associated with its uses in the Pokémon series, which included versus battle and an exchanging of Pokédex data.

Popular Culture

  • In the Metal Slug series, sometimes a trooper will take out his Gameboy and start to play (however, he invariably throws it on the ground with enough force to destroy the device after he cannot win).

Technical information

Custom 8-bit Sharp Z80 at 4.194304 MHz (has a slightly different instruction set than a standard Z80, and integrated sound generation)
8 kByte internal S-RAM
Video RAM
8 kByte internal
256 kbit, 512 kbit, 1 Mbit, 2 Mbit and 4 Mbit and 8 Mbit cartridges
4 channel stereo sound. The unit only has one speaker, but headphones provide stereo sound
Reflective LCD 160 × 144 pixels
Screen Size
66 mm (2.6 in) diagonal
Color Palette
4 shades of "gray" (green to black)
Up to 16 Game Boys can be linked together via serial ports
6 V, 0.7 W (4 AA batteries provide ~35 hours)
90mm(W) × 148mm(H) × 32mm(D)/3.5 × 5.8 × 1.3 (inch)

See also

  • Game Boy music


  1. ^ Ken Polsson (2006-11-20). Chronology of Video Game Systems. Retrieved on 2006-11-21.
  2. ^ Tetris: A History (12-26-2005). Retrieved on 2006-08-22.
  3. ^ Tetris Makes Game Boy a Must-Have (7/23/2003). Retrieved on 2006-08-22.
  4. ^ a b Nintendo Game Boy (DMG-001). (2006). Retrieved on 2006-08-22.
  5. ^ The Atari Lynx (2006). Retrieved on 2006-08-20.
  6. ^ The Atari Lynx: The Handheld System that Time Forgot! (2006). Retrieved on 2006-08-20.
  7. ^ Game Boy Battery / AC Adapter. The Nintendo Repository (2005-12-11). Retrieved on 2006-08-18.


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