Still our favourite portable moniker, Nintendo’s Game Boy turns 25 years old today.
Better named than the current flock of DS-based consoles but not as advanced as other consoles of its day (Sega Game Gear, we’re looking at you, kid), Game Boy was the handheld that everyone had, if only because there were so many different ones.
From there, we grabbed a Game Boy Pocket in blue, because why the hell should we carry something around if it doesn’t fit in our pocket? That was the machine we loved for Pokémon Gold and Silver, even if it didn’t display any colour.
Speaking of colour, we picked up a Game Boy Color – also in blue if we recall correctly – and remember being instantly disappointed that the colours weren’t as vibrant as the Game Gear we owned nearly a decade earlier. (It was obvious later that this had nothing to do with the colour gamut of the console and far more to do with the lack of backlighting system.
When the Game Boy Advance was announced, there was a clear generational shift happening, and it was a beautiful thing. The website Nintendo had at the time listed all the cool features of the console: smaller cartridges, horizontal orientation, shoulder buttons, GameCube connectivity, better graphics, brighter colours, and three new system shells: Indigo (blue), Arctic (white), and Glacier (translucent light blue). Naturally, we picked up the indigo model.
From there, there were a series of redesigns that didn’t change the functionality of the core system all too much. The Game Boy Advance SP added a much needed lighting system, though it was a front-lit affair which washed out some of the gameplay. It also went back to a vertical orientation which we didn’t love so much. Then again, many regard the Game Boy Advance SP as their favourite handheld of all time, so to each their own.
The Game Boy Micro was another interesting console, and one that we loved for its insane portability and its price which was lowered considerably once it failed to meet sales expectations. Announced at E3 2005, Game Boy Micro gave us a new way to carry around our favourite Game Boy Advance games (namely, A Link to the Past, as if there was any doubt), rather than lugging around our Zelda-less Nintendo DS.
Somewhere between the Game Boy Advance SP and the announcement of the Nintendo DS, the Game Boy brand all but ceased to exist. Nintendo hasn’t done anything with the name since 2005, save for introducing Virtual Console games that used to exist on its portables.
So, we say to you, Game Boy: Happy Birthday, old friend. Maybe one day, we’ll meet again.