Game Boy 25th Anniversary: Its History - As Told By You

Game Boy 25th Anniversary: Its History - As Told By You

A quarter of a century ago, Game Boy revolutionized mobile gaming, and became a part of millions of gamers' lives around the world. Here's how.

Before Game Boy was invented, mobile games were very basic, and not a lot of fun. But Nintendo's beloved grey brick changed all that: long plane rides and car journeys suddenly became something to look forward to, and at long last, players didn't have to monopolize the TV to feed their gaming need. It was a true revolution, and one that had a huge impact on many a gamer's life. These are some of their stories.

Jeremy skipped the green-screen Game Boy and went straight to the Color version.

Jeremy Parish

I didn't actually own a Game Boy until Game Boy Color – unless you count Super Game Boy. By the time I could afford to buy a Game Boy, and it had built up a compelling enough library for me to want one, there were better options available for playing those games than that awful original screen. I get the practical and economic reasons behind using a low-quality four-color passive-matrix LCD, but damn. The Super Game Boy let me play awesome stuff like those intriguing Metroid and Zelda sequels without eyestrain, so I didn't care much about the lack of portability.

It's strange to admit, given how big an advocate of portable gaming for the past decade and a half, but I looked down on handheld systems for a long time. It wasn't Game Boy but rather the Neo Geo Pocket Color that changed my mind. Nintendo's portables seemed underpowered and behind the times, and generally directed toward kids. All of which, actually, is quite true. But there was a lot of really great stuff on Game Boy that I passed over, and rediscovering those unknown gems is sort of my personal gaming crusade at the moment.

This is Jaz (left) at the launch of Sega's Game Gear at Cannes in early 1991. Sega gave everyone who attended a new machine (and a fanny pack by the looks of things). But when it came to passing the time as they waited for the bus to the airport, most journalists wanted to challenge each other to Tetris battles.

Jaz Rignall

The first time I saw Game Boy was in a Japanese magazine a few months before its launch. I didn't understand the words, but I didn't have to. I knew exactly what it was, and immediately set about finding the means to import one into the UK, where I was living at the time. After much calling around, I finally found a friendly, English-speaking exporter who said he'd buy one and send it to me. Good to his word, it arrived a few weeks after the system hit the streets in Japan - and was one of the very first in the UK.

Everything about it just blew me away. Compared to today's svelte hand-helds, the classic Game Boy feels like quite a brick, but back then it was sensational: a machine that finally enabled you to play "real" games without having to sit in front of a TV. I took it absolutely everywhere, but played it the most on my two-hour daily rail commute. I can't tell you how many people asked me what it was I was playing with. Every time I showed it to them, they thought it was absolutely amazing.

For me, the killer app was Tetris, and I put many hundreds of hours into that game, mostly going for 9 and High 5 over and over again. I just never got bored, and indeed I found it strangely relaxing – a way to focus my mind when it was racing, or I was stressing out. I still think that game ranks as one of the all-time greats. From its graphics to its controls, everything about that game was just perfect.

The Game Boy was also quite a tank. Mine lasted for years and years, and traveled all over the world. I dropped it numerous times, and while it ended up with scratches and dings all over it, it still worked fine. I ended up giving it a friend's kid and it had a whole new lease of life, and I bought a shiny new Game Boy clear, which is still one of my favorite hand-hands of all time.

These were apparently up on eBay, but their auction record is sadly long gone. Cosplay gone wrong? Mad fashion statement? Who knows. But they be PIMPIN', yo.


I remember getting the brick for my birthday when I was 7 years old, and I didn't even have a proper console at the time. I regularly had arguments with my mother because she was addicted to Tetris and I wanted to play. We compromised by competing for score in Tetris; she would always win. Now she has a disability and physically can't play it anymore, but I really treasure those memories. Tetris remains very special to me.

Looking back, the Game Boy is basically a pocket sized monochrome NES. It's difficult to state how mindblowing that was when it first came out. I had (and still have) Capcom's Duck Tales on it, and it's such a great little port. The music, the visuals, the gameplay are all intact, albeit minimized. I still play it to this day, and I'm more comfortable with it than I am with the NES original.

This thing was a really significant moment for games, very much like the Walkman was for music. It broadened the audience demographic and took gaming way outside of its usual environment. Stunning.

It didn't take long for companies to start capitalizing on Game Boy's huge success with an onslaught of add-ons, enhancements and accoutrements. [Source]

Dustin Quillen

"I still can't see anything."

Squinting at a friend's brand new Game Boy on the bus ride to school, I was determined to get a taste of Super Mario Land before we reached our destination. As far as first impressions go, you couldn't get much worse.

"Just keep messing with the thingy until it looks right," he said, pointing to the contrast slider at the system's side. "See? That's way better! Now... Uh... Maybe turn it back down again?"

Many years would pass before I finally warmed to Nintendo's handheld, but I'm so glad that I did. I can't imagine missing out on classics like Tetris Attack, Donkey Kong '94, or Super Mario Land 2 -- all games that I revisit on a regular basis to this day -- not to mention Pokémon, a series I've played for literally thousands of hours since its debut.

When I look back on those awkward first moments I spent with the Game Boy, I can't help but marvel at how Nintendo took this weird, underwhelming piece of hardware and made it one of the most successful gaming platforms ever. And if you think about it, that's kind of been their M.O. for the past decade or so.

Brendan Sinclair

As much as I loved my Game Boy, I almost never used it as a portable system. It just went through batteries too quickly, and rechargeables were much less common at the time (or at least, my family never had them). Instead I played tethered to the wall with the system's rounded brick power adapter (sold separately!), so much so that I actually lost the battery compartment cover. Even now I play my portable systems almost exclusively at home--and often in preference to their console counterparts--because the sort of games that lend themselves to handhelds are just as fun on the couch as they are on the bus.

And the Game Boy had plenty of those types of games. Tetris was brilliant (if blurry). Alleyway is still my favorite Breakout clone. Final Fantasy Legend was my first JRPG, and had me completely hooked. Gargoyle's Quest was a better looking game than half the NES stuff I was playing at the time. I grabbed Heiankyo Alien at Babbage's because it was the cheapest game they had, and quickly discovered the joys of the hidden gem. The fact that it was so dominant for so long even in the face of technically superior competition (Lynx, Game Gear, TurboXpress, Nomad) is a testament to the system's secretly incredible catalog of titles. And Nintendo's marketing savvy. And Pokémon. And price-conscious parents. But seriously, there were some great games on that system.

The ultimate Game Boy standby. The very definition of evergreen classic.

Pete Davison

Our household consisted exclusively of Atari loyalists in the early days of gaming -- to such a degree that one Christmas I ended up with a Lynx, Atari's laughable take on a "handheld" system that was about twice the size of an original Xbox "Duke" controller. Despite its enormous size, I was impressed with the Lynx's capabilities, though, and I must confess this led me to look on the original Game Boy's horrid, blurry, unlit yellow-and-black screen with some disdain at the time.

Like Jeremy, I didn't own an original Game Boy of my own; I picked up a Game Boy Pocket out of curiosity when I saw a cheap one, then upgraded to a Color later. (That old Pocket still lives in the downstairs toilet at my parents' house for anyone who wants to indulge themselves in a quick game of Tetris while they're, uh, occupied.)

These systems made me realize what I'd been missing, even if I continued to find the lack of backlight in the screen infuriating until the Game Boy Advance SP emerged years later. I spent an awful lot of time playing Tetris DX on that Game Boy Color, along with a few other titles like Link's Awakening, Final Fantasy Legend II and Harvest Moon, but if I'm entirely honest I will admit that handheld gaming wasn't something I regarded as "seriously" (for want of a better word) as big-screen gaming on computers and consoles at the time; it was something I saved for long car journeys or periods away from home.

My opinions have changed significantly in recent years, however, particularly with the most recent generation of handhelds, and as such, I feel I really should go back and investigate some of those classics that passed me by from back when I didn't take the Game Boy particularly seriously. Suggestions are welcomed!

There have been many different colored Game Boys released over the years, but (at least according to Jaz), no color is the best of the lot.


I got my first Game Boy either for the Christmas after it came out or for my birthday in January. I was 7 years old. I received Super Mario Land also and I loved it. The Game Boy was perfect for long trips like the time I "raced" my cousin through Super Mario Land (each on our own Game Boy) on a plane ride to Florida to see who could beat it the fastest and the most times in a row. I lost. He made it through 4 times and I only made it to 2. It seems like a silly memory to hold on to and remember but the Game Boy was just that special to me at the time. It had a great little sound chip too. The overworld theme from Super Mario Land instantly got stuck in my head as I started thinking about the subject of my Game Boy memories. There's something to be said for the fact that people make music today using its sound chip. And that something is awesome.

Oh ya, and Tetris is awesome too. After all these years it remains my favorite version of the game and I still break it out to play on occasion.

The Game Boy was often described as "bomb proof." That's because it actually was.


The year the Game Boy came out, I was 8, and I got it for Christmas that year. Two days later, my house burned down and I lost everything. My NES and all my games were gone.

My Game Boy however, survived, and it took awhile for me to get a NES again, as finances took a while to get back to normal, so all my video gaming was done on my Game Boy for the next couple of years.

My Game Boy still works, and it still has some black marks left from the fire, and it still smells like some piece of plastic that has been burned. It looks pretty good otherwise, and nothing like the Desert Storm Game Boy, but those suckers were meant to survive.

In any case, my Game Boy helped me get through a pretty rough patch in my childhood as a result. The house fire was only one of a multitude of things happening in my life at the time, so I'll always feel very fondly of the little gadget.

Game Boy started out as grey as the NES, but that didn't last for long.


Pretty sure I missed two weeks of eighth grade because of Final Fantasy Legend II. Really mom...I'm Actually I just wanted to hand Apollo some of my sword skills. Putting the Magi together and creating some all-powerful goddess? Cool...and yes, you can join my party. That lady Venus in the city of ridiculously good-looking people. She was destroyed...and it felt like sweet, sweet revenge.

My brother and I (both newspaper boys) went in together on the Game Boy two years previous. It was a time of fantasy and wonder.

Gargoyle's Quest ripped my head off over and over, but when I finally delivered the concluding blast of my Dark Buster to King Braeger's exposed abdomen, there was much rejoicing. Well. In our Volkswagen Van on the way to Lehman Caves...Nevertheless Firebrand and his world were permanently branded into my being. Meeting Majora, defeating Zakkudruzer, getting lost in the desert, and destroyed by the floating vine/plant things... that game was epic and difficult. The Essence of the Soulstream became my drink of choice. If only mom had stocked it in the fridge.

Super Mario Land and its weird graphics and stone heads, ala Easter Island was a fun journey only to be outdone by its sequel. Which I loved. Of course this led to my friendship with Wario in Warioland. Could gaming get any better? Yes. It could. Link's Awakening. Searching for those secret seashells, getting my sword powered up and treating the nightmares like dreams of ponies. Slashing through their non-substance like a Windfish floating through the sky. This game was like none other. A dream world Zelda. If felt like anything was possible. AND IT WAS. That's why I flew away a couple days after beating it on my very own Windfish. Only a Game Boy could bring that kind of wish fulfillment.

So many memories, wasting my life's earnings in Caesar's Palace, getting knocked around by robots names after planets in Mega Man V, visiting the past, present, and future in Legend III, as well as climbing the tower to heaven in Legend I. Collecting bananas and realizing what a horrible game Donkey Kong Land is (though I still pull it out once in a while). Wasting time on Kirby's Pinball Land, as well as floating through the air in Kirby's Dreamland. Let's not forget Tetris. Honestly. Getting 100,000 points just to watch cruddy graphics launch the shuttle was a dream come true. For a while. I could go on and on with great games and experiences with the Game Boy.

In all seriousness, I must say that that 4 color/shade piece of under powered hardware gave me more joy and wonder than many games are capable of today. I had to feel in the gaps, I had to deal with bugs and glitches that, in all honesty, made some of the games that much more interesting. The minimalist approach allowed me to feel in the gaps. Much like the original Final Fantasy has a much stronger pull on me than Final Fantasy XIII in all its graphical splendor. Live on forever Game Boy! I still keep you in a special place, even though you work no longer. Sure you were replacing by the Game Boy Pocket, Color, Advance, and so on, but your green screen will never be forgotten! (Good job Nintendo, by the way, by allowing that option in 3DS emulation.) Gargoyle's Quest and Final Fantasy Legend II FOREVER!

Tetris was THE pack-in game. Not just in the states. In every territory the Game Boy was released.


After becoming consumed by the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987 it was only natural that the want - nay, need - for a Game Boy would become a driving force in my mind in 1989. Nintendo Power suitably hyped the new gadget and the thought of taking Mario on the road during family vacations was practically a dream come true. My Game Boy was a holiday gift from my parents in December 1989, providing me with the Game Boy itself, the Battery Pak, pack-in title Tetris, and Super Mario Land. Initially the Game Boy may well have been an extension of my hand; for the first few weeks I had the little gadget, it seemed to always be with me: sitting on the sofa exploring Sarasaland, rotating tetrads by the pool, and eventually blasting Dr. Wily in the car. During the first few months of owning a Game Boy it was relatively easy to keep all the various game paks and accessories together, but as time went on it just wasn't possible for my small nine-year-old hands to carry everything. By this time I'd acquired a Light Boy magnifier light, Nintendo's Game Boy player's guide, and what seemed like a load of various cables. That's when my parents came to the rescue with a unique solution.

My father designed and built a special one-of-a-kind Game Boy storage case as a gift for my tenth birthday in 1991, a case that I still have today all these years later. I'm told that the outer shell is bulletproof as well as waterproof. Inside the case is enough foam padding to absorb collision shocks and each slot in the foam is sized to fit specific Game Boy accessories. There's slots for the Game Boy, the Battery Pak, the Light Boy, the stereo headphones, and more slots for game pak storage than I'd ever get around to filling (currently there are still two empty slots for games). Lift up the section of foam where the headphones are kept to reveal a compartment for instruction manual storage. Flip down the inner lid on the top half of the case to access player's guides, the game link cable, the Battery Pak's A/C cable, and the Game Boy cleaning kit. The whole thing is double-locked and, for stylishness, has an engraved nameplate on the side of the case. Every summer my parents and I would drive up the east coast of the USA on vacation, and for every trip there was a new Game Boy game waiting for me the morning we'd set off up I- 95 at four o'clock in the morning. After all those years of carting the case across the country on vacations from Seattle to Philadelphia it's still in excellent shape and is a testament to my father's ability to visualize, design, and build long-lasting, durable creations.

Technology and time marched on from there as I grew older and acquired new electronic gadgets to play. The Game Boy carries on, slightly battered but still just as fun as it was that early morning in December 1989. The Battery Pak's ability to hold a charge with being plugged into the electrical outlet is long gone, the Light Boy's light bulb is a little dimmer, and the Game Boy itself has a little trouble displaying the pixels on the edges of the screen. The games themselves live on, however, as do my memories of the various ups and downs of the early 1990's. They're all locked inside a special storage case. Thanks, Nintendo. Thanks, Dad.

Want to see photos of the case? They're on my website.

Lights... magnifying screens, speakers. Game Boy was one of the most accessorized systems of all time.


This isn't really a "cool story" but I like to tell it every time someone mentions Final Fantasy Legends II:

While at high school, I brought over my PlayStation 2 to a friend's house for a movie night. He was in the middle of cleaning out his desk, shuffling around CDs and old tapes when he came across a copy Final Fantasy Legends II for the game boy. He was never much of a gamer - he was more into listening to Tool, Pink Floyd and Men Without Hats - so when he picked up this tiny game boy cartridge, he just sort of scoffed at it like it was some fad he wanted to throw out, when he asked me if I wanted it.

I said "sure!" not realizing Final Fantasy Legends II was part of Akitoshi Kawazu's SaGa series. Saga Frontier and Saga Frontier II were one of the first few games I owned for the PlayStation and took me about 2 years each to beat. I mean, I had a game boy growing up, but to find out there were earlier installments within the series surprised me.

Familiar elements, like the superhero motif, meeting the lord of underworld and the obtuse battle system told me that this was definitely a SaGa game. But to learn that it was actually made for the game boy made me realize there was so much I didn't know about this series.

I probably carried the game around with me through some of the most trying times of my teenage years. There was a certain amount of solace to be found in grinding levels on the long car trip home after my grandmother passed away and while my brother was in the hospital.

Because I had "found" this game through a friend, rather than having to have bought it, It sort of gave me a deeper appreciation for the past and that life sometimes is often worth another, closer look.

...I dunno!!! I just thought it was neat that beneath this mass collection of numerous tapes and CDs of obscure bands from years ago, also laid an obscure installment of an RPG series that I loved.

Because of the Game Boy's success and the numerous games they released for it - it was like finding buried treasure from a long forgotten past.

For the Game Boy player who has everything - a case to put it all in.

Sgt. Kabukiman

I don't know if this rumor was something that spread in other countries but I grew up in France and in my area in the late 80s / early 90s all the parents would refuse to buy their kids home consoles because it would "damage" the TV screens after a while ! That's the main reason my friends and I were denied Master Systems and Nintendos... I don't think my parents actually ever believed that but they made sure that I did. So when the Game Boy came along it was like a gift from the gods, I could no longer be denied !

My greatest memory of it is Link's Awakening, my first Zelda game and still my favorite in 2D. It took me years to beat and I still vividly remember the endless discussions I had about it in the bus coming back from school.

I also have a sad memory I'd like to share. I didn't have the greatest childhood (some had it much worse than me of course) and my Game Boy was at some point my only escape from reality. Until one adult decided to threw it at my face in a fit of anger. That thing was pretty massive so I dodged it. It smashed against the wall and the screen broke... I cried for days after that, wishing I had stood my ground instead. What was a black eye or a scar against the death of my dear Game Boy ? Fortunately, things are much better now ! I even bought a new one last year. I could have bought a GBA instead, it probably would have been much more useful but I wanted the exact same model from my childhood. What a neat little system...

Game Boy wasn't the most technically advanced system - but it was the cheapest.


The Game Boy was the first device to truly feel like a private, interactive experience. Sure, my Mom wouldn't mind sitting in our living room rocking chair to have a go at Tetris for a few minutes, but it mostly felt entirely mine.

I didn't get out much on my own as a socially inept eight-year-old kid (even my backyard adventures ended with Poison Oak). My loud living room was the only place to play my NES, which meant I'd be Playing in Public. I didn't want to do this. It didn't feel right. I preferred to solely Play With Power, so the interruptions and requests for chores and demands for things like "dinner" and "TV" weren't really working for me. I wanted to retreat and hide and press buttons, all in the comfort of my lamp-lit bedroom adorned with ripped out pages from Nintendo Power.

I remember countless childhood car-rides and errands, and loving only the sight of that adorable Game Boy waiting for me in the backseat. I'd always want nothing more than to squint at my green-tinted screen and hunt for more secrets in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, endlessly content.

And the always-dwindling supply of light and power sources made the little gadget all the more romantic - on summer days, I'd lie down in the shaded trees playing Link's Awakening. I'd be ready to move to catch more sun, and I'd always carry spare batteries in my bag just in case.

Everything just felt better on this miniature brick of an NES - even Mega Man felt like a richer experience. The Game Boy was tinier, cozier, cuter, and it felt like it was mine.


Even amongst my rather large extended family (9 aunts and uncles on my dad's side alone), no one showed the same interest for games as I did growing up. I was a rare introvert in a large boisterous family that had little patience for sitting in front of a TV with an NES controller for hours on end.

While I felt alone in my hobby the majority of the time, there was one other person that held an interest in a single game for as long or longer than I ever have. My Grandpa, my dad's dad, played the ever-loving hell out of Tetris for the Game Boy.

The reserved, under spoken type, he typically passed our chaotic family gatherings in his chair set in the corner of my grandparent's living room, with his Game Boy and its permanently attached cartridge on the table next to him. While I owned the system and game myself, the thought of swiping my Grandpa's handheld and finding a hidden nook to play his game presented a constant temptation whenever we were at their house, something that would certainly not fly given the social expectations that come with a family gathering.

At one Christmas get-together, I realized that the old grey brick Game Boy had been replaced with a less cumbersome red Game Boy Pocket. Later in the day, noticing that my Grandpa had vacated his seat, I quickly snuck across the room, plopped down in his chair, and picked up the device. Not only was the Game Boy new, it was housing a copy of Tetris 2, otherwise known as Tetris with bombs. Disregarding my family member's warnings of "That's Grandpa's game, he might not like you playing it," I clicked on the Game Boy and started a round. A couple minutes of poor Tetris play later, my Grandpa returned to find me there. He loomed over me for a moment, before smiling, gesturing me to move, and then pulling me into his lap to play some Tetris 2 together. While I have several memories of playing the system myself, this one best exemplifies how the Game Boy and Tetris attracted an audience that would never otherwise consider playing a video game.


When Game Boy was released I was working as an EMT in NYC (The Bronx to be exact). One of my partners started bringing a game boy to work and he would play it between calls. He let me take turns on it and pretty soon (like, 2 days later) I bought my own. I was so addicted, I would sign up for extra overnight shifts just so I could play Tetris. (Overnights were best because there were fewer calls, although 8 calls a night was still the average.)

In retrospect, I realize the Game Boy kept our morale up because we weren't dwelling on the horror we were dealing with throughout the night.

Aussie Ben

I still remember my ten-year-old self sliding out the Styrofoam box and lifting off the lid of the original Game Boy packaging. That thing was an absolute treasure trove - console, Tetris cart, earphones, link cable - and BATTERIES! Oh, Nintendo, thank you for including batteries. That day absolutely fuelled my love of portable consoles.

I remember taking that thing with me everywhere. Boring hospital trips with Super Mario Land, miserable camping nights made better with a huge Game Boy Light and Gargoyle's Quest... Sitting in bed at 2am with Metroid II, eerie ambient sound, and then a terrifying electronic screech from an Omega Metroid and FREAKING OUT.

My first Zelda was Link's Awakening (borrowed from a friend), and with its ease of play, gripping story, and quirky sense of humor encouraged you to keep exploring the strange island of Koholint. While I have enjoyed other Zelda games, to this day, Link's Awakening remains my absolute favorite.

I also remember saving up for those carts as a kid - in Australia, each game was fifty or sixty bucks a pop, so you really wanted to make sure that your choice was a good one. Boy, I wish I could tell my younger self not to bother with those terrible Simpsons Acclaim games. Ah well, I guess kids have to learn that licensed games are trash somehow.

In 1997, when Pokémon fever hit, I still had my beloved Game Boy (now a Game Boy Pocket), and managed to catch all 151 Pokémon with my friend's help. Well, that and sending off my copy of Red to Nintendo Australia - I still have the certificate for Mew!

The Game Boy has taken every spare morsel of my free time at bus stops, queues and lunch breaks - and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Yes. That is indeed a Game Boy Radio peripheral.


It wouldn't be until Christmas of the year the Game Boy launched that I would be able to hold one in my hands and play it for myself. Until then, the Game Boy was almost a "mythological creature" amongst the kids in my neighborhood. Something you'd hear about in stories or see in adverts but couldn't get near because parents either refused to buy one for their kids, or wouldn't allow "Little 8-year-old Steven" to take it out of the house for fear of losing or damaging it.

The first time I spotted one was at my local convenience store, no less. This was one of those corner variety shops where you got your candy and maybe stopped to pump a few quarters into the arcade cabinet that was there. I was there grabbing my usual dollar's worth of penny candy when I spotted these two older (I was 8), rougher looking punks walk in and stand in front of the arcade cabinet...only to whip out their Game Boy in a showy display of "take that arcade cabinet, we ain't got the quarters for you, and we don't need 'em anyway!" One of those moments where you see someone with something you just have to have.

So Christmas rolls around and, sure enough, our mother surprises us with a Game Boy. Tetris (obviously) and Super Mario Land were first in line to christen the new unit. Not a day went buy where my mother didn't complain about having to purchase AA batteries...and not a day went by where she didn't hog the thing to sate her newly developed Tetris addiction.

See, between me, my brother, and my mother, our Game Boy split three ways. This was a shared unit. And most of the time it was my mother who had reign over the thing. Luckily, my brother didn't much care for it; certainly not nearly as much as myself or my mother, but I remember it came down to my mother using the power adapter with the Game Boy plugged in next to her lounger to keep her marathon Tetris sessions rolling along.

Later she would tire of it, and I'd find myself hooked by games like Star Trek The Next Generation or Batman The Movie ('89). My poor mother often bought really, really crappy games for the thing (Spider-man 3 and T2 The Arcade Game immediately spring to mind), and she'd be hurt when I'd say how crappy the game is. I never stopped feeling guilty about that particular detail.

Overall, the Game Boy provided a nostalgia overload that stays with me to this day. The great, classic games are hard to beat and it was certainly THE gaming device to have and brag about when all of your friends were stuck playing the shitty Tiger Electronics branded games. It was hard to bring a Game Boy to school to show off and act all cool about, because either your parents refused to let you bring such an "expensive" thing out of the house or a teacher would confiscate it. Still, you had bragging rights if you had a Game Boy in '89.

One of these days I'll track down a classic Game Boy unit, and then head to the nearest arcade and whip it out while standing in front of a cabinet and make eye contact with someone and let them marvel at how undeniably cool I would be.

There were a number of Game Boy advertising campaigns that were seen as being in poor taste. Like this one. Perhaps we should write a feature about them?


One of my most distinct Game Boy memories is of the cheap, third party AC adapter my parents bought me (definitely more economical than buying batteries at the rate I was burning through them). The cord was sort of short and the device that connected it to the Game Boy had a tendency to just fall out if you moved even a little bit from your original position. This meant that if I didn't sit completely still, I could potentially lose all of my progress (especially in Mario Land, where resetting meant starting the whole game over). I persevered, and in this uncomfortable position managed to play through Super Mario Land, Kid Dracula, Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters, Tiny Toon Adventures, and Kirby's Dreamland. To this day I occasionally have to take breaks while playing my 3DS, realizing I've been sitting completely still and tensed up for long stretches of time.

Like most early Game Boy games, Marioland was pretty damn challenging. And not just because everything was so tiny and blurry...


Sure, I'll bite.

I've got to admit, I've always had a love/hate relationship with the original Game Boy, with that relationship often tilting toward the "hate" side of the scale. Sure, I was as amazed as everyone else back in 1989 that I could play all my NES favorites on the go, but a more critical eye revealed that those games were a great deal less impressive than their NES counterparts. Just look at Super Mario Land with its microscopic characters, or Castlevania with its sluggish gameplay! Woe betide anyone who had to settle for them instead of the magnificent Super Mario Bros. 3 and Dracula's Curse on the NES!

I guess the first game I played on the white brick that I honestly enjoyed was Solomon's Club by Tecmo. Technically, it too was a dumbed down version of an NES favorite, but the puzzles were smaller and more manageable; it didn't get tough until the very end, unlike Solomon's Key, which spanked you raw after about eight stages. The ending was also impressive... it was just a still shot of the wizard Dana and some of the enemies in the game, but it demonstrated just how detailed Game Boy graphics could get in the hands of a skilled artist.

I'm honestly more a Game Boy Advance man myself, but I do have a few not-so-advanced Game Boy titles in my collection, including perennial favorite Tetris, an ill-considered spin-off of Donkey Kong Country, and a handful of Pokémon games which I own for no discernible reason. I also have the Game Boy Printer and Camera, both peripherals that were way ahead of their time and never matched by the system's more powerful successors. Sure, you can take a fuzzy picture with the 3DS, but you can't create a nifty sticker of it afterward with your face in four glorious shades of grey.

Related articles

NES Tetris Tournament Crowns New World Champion in Brother Against Brother Battle

The Classic Tetris World Championship ended with yet another thrilling showdown in 2020.

Please Stop Calling Bugsnax a Horror Game

The hyperbole surrounding the story of Bugsnax is a bit much, don't you think?

Tetris Effect: Connected's Co-op Has a Self-Revival Trick Everyone Needs to Learn

We're never gonna protect this trippy Tetris realm if you don't!

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Is the First Thing You Should Buy on Your New Xbox Series X

We break down the reasons why Xbox Game Pass is an essential pickup now that the Xbox Series X is here.

Need help?

Tetris 99 Tips

There's a new battle royale game on the block. Here's how to win at Tetris 99.

Tetris 99 Tips - How to Win at Tetris Battle Royale

There's a new battle royale game on the block. Here's how to win at Tetris 99.

Gotta Catch All 98 Opponents in Tetris 99's Upcoming Pokemon Crossover Event

Tetris 99's new crossover theme might be its best yet.

If You're Bad at Tetris 99, You Can Now Squad Up For Help

The puzzle-battle royale hybrid just got friendlier.