Nintendo Game Boy

Image Caption: The original Game Boy (released in Japan in April 1989). Credit: William Warby/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Game Boy is a hand held video game device manufactured in 1986 by Nintendo. It was released in Japan on April 21, 1989, in North America in August 1989, and in Europe on September 28, 1990. It was the first in a series of Game Boy handhelds and was originally bundled with the puzzle game Tetris.

Worldwide the Game Boy line has sold over 118.69 million devices. In its initial release in the US it sold one million units within a few weeks.

In 1995, 46 percent of Game Boy players were female, announced by Nintendo of America. In 2009 the Game Boy was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. On June 6, 2011 Game Boy and Game Boy Color games are available on the Virtual Console service on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

The unit has four operation buttons, “A”, “B”, “Select”, and “Start”, along with a directional pad for the movement of characters on screen. On the right side of the unit there is a volume control and a contrast control knob on the left. On top of the unit is the on/off switch and a slot for the Game Boy cartridges. It is recommended that the user leaves a cartridge in the slot to prevent dust from getting into the unit.

It is powered by four AA batteries, but can be used with an external AC adaptor or battery pack. It also has a 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack located on the bottom, allowing for external speakers or headphones. Another feature of the Game Boy is a port where it can connect to another unit by a link cable, providing both users are playing the same game–used for head-to-head competitions. The same port can be used to connect to a Game Boy printer. This port was used later to communicate and network with the Pokemon video game series.

At the release of the Game Boy these titles were also released:

In Japan: Alleyway, Baseball, Super Mario Land, and Yakuman.

In North America: Tennis and Tetris, which were bundled with the unit.

In Europe: Qix, Radar Mission, and Solar Striker.

Other models of the Game Boy system:

The play it Loud campaign began on January 1, 1995, with the subsequent release of several Game Boy models with colored cases. The Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS. These models were manufactured with red, green, black, yellow, white, blue and transparent case. The blue model is very rare and hard to find. They also had a darker border then the original unit.

Game Boy Pocket:

This unit was released in 1996. It was smaller, lighter and required two AAA batteries and provided 10 hours of game play. The screen of this model was a true black and white display instead of the “pea soup” display of the original, and did not have a back light to play in a darkened area. Several limited edition units were released including the, metallic ice blue and a pink model sold in Japan only.

Game Boy Light:

This unit was released on April 14, 1998, exclusively in Japan. It was slightly bigger than the Game Boy Pocket and featured a backlight to use in dimly lit areas. The two AA batteries would power the unit for 20 hours with no light and 12 hours with the light on. It came in two colors, gold and silver, along with other special edition models. These models included an Astro Boy edition with a clear case, Osamu Tezuka edition with a clear red case, Pokemon versions in a yellow case and clear yellow case, and a Famitsu edition with a clear case and only 5,000 units were sold.

The technical specifications on the Game Boy units:

·CPU is an 8-bit Sharp LR35902 core, with 4.19 Mhz.

·Ram is 8 KB internal with up to a 32 KB expansion.

·Video RAM is 8 KB.

·Sound is produced by 2 square wave generators, 1 PCM 4-bit wave sample, 1 noise generator and one audio input from the cartridge. The unit only has one speaker, but the use of headphones provide stereo sound.

·Display is a reflective STN LCD screen with 160 x 144 p resolution.

·Frame rate is approximately 59.7 frames per second on the regular Game Boy and 61.1 on the Super Game Boy.

·Vertical Blank Rate is 1.1 ms.

·Screen size is 2.6 inches diagonal.

·Color Palette is 2-bit with 4 shades of gray and light to very dark olive green.

·Communication can be linked with another Game Boy unit with a built in serial port and up to 4 units with a DMG-07 4-player adapter.

·Power is 6V using 4 AA batteries with 15 – 30 hours play time. (exception is the Game Boy Light)

·Dimensions are 3.5 (W) x 5.8 (H) x (D) 1.3 inches.