The Gameboy is a word holding nostalgic power over 120 million peoples' hearts. One of the most beloved pieces of electronic entertainment, with a library of over a thousand brilliant games, and is one you are probably familiar with. If not, A brief history lesson is due. So lets go back to the past and to the glory days of 1989.
Imagine its the late 1980s and portable gaming consoles come with a single game installed. That game is the only game you can play and cartridges for those portable machines don't exist. Your stuck, your bored of the same dull game, not offering 8bit graphics like the impressive NES. Suddenly, Nintendo showcases a new console with 8Bit graphics, games like Mario, Pacman, Tetris and you don't need to buy different portable machines per game. This was a dream come true. The Gameboy blew up the portable gaming market like a thunderstorm. Most Gameboys were being packaged with a copy of Tetris and literally made children chew their finger nails off in anticipation. Even adults on train rides to work could not resist the strategic block twister Tetris. Soon everyone started packing a Gameboy into their life, it was like the packed lunch you would take to primary school only difference being, this was one package everyone wanted a bite of.
"LEFT, RIGHT, UP, DOWN, A, B"
Although now people look at new devices and demand all sorts of features, in 1989 the D-pad and 2 buttons were all you needed. Look at the recently launched PS Vita. It has a directional pad, 6 buttons, two analogue sticks, touch screen, back touch pad and a motion sensor. Seriously people these days don't know how much they are getting in their devices compared to a couple decades back. The Gameboys controls did not hold it back, as the game designing legend Shigeru Miyamoto once explained "all you need are two simple things happening at once and you will have a challenge" the Gameboys' games were some of the most engrossing adventures which could make you miss your bus stop if you weren't careful.
The GB at this point with its "hip" nickname had racked millions of sales breaking Nintendo's early predictions and had become the most demanded portable ever. Every new addition to the Gameboy family such as the Gameboy Colour were all welcome and were embraced by the same amount of popularity. Easily eliminating competition. Kids around the globe were dreaming of the next new game which could be announced. The Gameboy opened up a massive well of portable revenue and companies saw that, soon SEGA and ATARI were on Nintendo's back with their own portable consoles. Whilst the other companies had created stronger machines in hopes of taking down the Gameboy, there was one reason why this portable beat all the rest...The sheer quality of games. Metroid, Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, Doctor Mario, Donkey Kong, Excite Bike and finally Pokemon. The GB's library of games were far superior to the competition.
My personal childhood love was Pokemon, it is still one of my favourite games ever made (despite what Wes says!) and is not only loved by me because Pokemon Red/Blue are considered one of the highest selling RPG's of all time. Nintendo and Game Freak brought something special to the Gameboy which other systems had hit upon but not fully explored, the sociability. Pokemon games made the link cable for the Gameboy a must have as they allowed people to trade Pokemon, kids without the cable were unable to obtain all 150 Pokemon and so everyone I knew had already dragged their parents to the store to get one. The Pokemon slogan should have been, Gotta Catch Em' All? £14.99 please! All jokes aside, the cable was a great idea and was one of the better two player ideas of the 1990s, making boring classes and train rides a blast. Games like these really help in breaking the 'basement dweller' stereotype, so more power to Pokemon for that.
By the end of the 20th century, Nintendo had reigned supreme with the Gameboy. A true masterpiece in video gaming history. People who had grown up with the system now were older, desired more than those 8Bit blocks. Even the 'Bit' era was now over as all the companies were now raging with their polygon machines, leaving nothing for the sprite lovers. But as the 21st century dawned and gamers started parting with their Gameboy memories. Nintendo brought out the next step, the next invention which would bring us all back to our first loves.. The Gameboy Advance.
Next Week we will look into the GBA and my personal favourite portable console of all time. the GameBoy Advance SP.
If you want a Gameboy, check em' out on Ebay as they are quite cheap and still offer a great time. However, be warned, you will need to buy some rechargeable batteries for these battery sucking beasts.
Controversy is present here as the Microvision is technically the first interchangeable cartridge system but it was not well designed and supported, meeting its death only two years after launch. It was only the Gameboy which made the portable market what it is and so that is why I am considering it as the first main portable interchangeable gaming machine.
For more retro goodness check out VGI @VideoGamesInt on our Twitter!
Written By Ali 'TheGeekyPenguin', you can follow me @TheGeekyPenguin if you want to talk about some Pokemon!
What's your favourite GB game or memory? Let us know in the comments below, we'd love to read it!