Real Talk By: Ms. Throwback
The 90’s are a decade of years that will always be fondly remembered for the good and the bad. While the mechanical advances in the car industry were something to be ignored, technological advances in the toy arena were bringing up a whole new set of kids that were ready for the future. Furbies that could communicate with each other, Tamagochis that needed to be cared for around the clock, and easy bake ovens that made real confections were just some of the fond memories that made being a 90’s kid special. By 1989 Nintendo was ready to get in on the action with a handheld video game system that would sweep the nation for literally decades to come. Enter, the original Game Boy:
Released in the United States in 1990 Nintendo sold out of its entire one million units in just the first few weeks of its launch. While other handheld systems had come before it, like the Sega Game Gear, Game Boy stood out for its exquisite line-up of titles, high quality accessories, and a brilliant marketing strategy. For one thing, Game Boy released just before the Christmas season of one of the biggest sales years in the history of record keeping. With hours of play on just 4 AA batteries there was no shortage of children carrying their Game Boy’s to the super market while mom did such boring adult things like shopping, and you know, eating.
People were already swept in by Super Mario Land and Tetris at launch. SML went on to sell 18 million copies over the life time of the system. Game Boy couldn’t be mentioned without also mentioning the most epic of titles for the system, Pokemon. Super Mario Land’s sales were nothing compared to the onslaught of Pokemon Red/Blue and Pokemon Gold/Silver which sold 23 million copies respectively. Nintendo also released tons of other well-known franchises on the system including Zelda, Kirby, and Dr. Mario. Not only did it seem like 90’s kids weren’t running out of games anytime soon, a study at the time showed that Nintendo was reaching a yet unknown audience which included 45% female players, a completely unheard of strategy at the time.
Nintendo was even surprised by the sales they were getting. When asked what the plan was for an updated handheld console by the mid-90’s they answer was clear. They would hold off on updating the system and release various versions of the same handheld including the sleeker Game Boy Pocket and Game Boy Color, both also successful handhelds. Meanwhile Nintendo had answers for most player problems in the form of accessories which included a range of carrying cases, back up batteries, and a clip on light/magnifying lens. If you weren’t carrying around the bulkiest most ugly-looking Game Boy back in the day, you weren’t doing it right.
Many of the most loved Game Boy titles were translated and updated for the later Game Boy Advance and DS handhelds, and later populations replayed and again fell in love with what used to be a purely 90’s phenomenon. Today Game Boy titles are sorely missed and because of that, Nintendo offers a well-rounded amount of the original titles updated and downloadable on either the Wii U or DS virtual consoles. If you’re feeling really throwback you can buy an original handheld and lot of core games for about $60-$100 online.
Personally I can’t imagine my childhood without Game Boy. It was the mobile device before cell phones existed, it was the escape in your fort at night when you were supposed to be sleeping, it was the adventure away from the 90’s stark way of life, a launch pad into the future. It’s hard to put into words how important a system Game Boy really was to many of us. While Nintendo had already wowed me beyond belief with home systems, Game Boy breathed a fresh breath of air into my never-ending want for more Nintendo. It calmed my soul during endless shopping trips, and lengthy car rides with my sibling. It was just the thing my young heart desired, and I couldn’t get enough.
By the time the Game Boy’s lifespan was completed the handheld had been in production for ten years and sold 118 million consoles. It broke records on every continent it was released on and would only be outdone by the later Nintendo DS. Nintendo showed the world that handheld gaming was the future, and while today mobile gaming seems to be the norm, Nintendo still breaks records with handhelds that are sleek, portable, and beautifully designed. The fact of the matter is, you can secondarily mention other companies, but when it comes to handhelds, Nintendo is king, and it’s thanks to the Game Boy. The fact of the matter is that:
Game Boy Gets
5 Out of 5
+ Huge line-up of exclusive titles
+ High quality accessories
+ Great battery life
+ Nice visuals and sound for the time
+ Downloadable titles today
– Those old school buttons can stick