Game Boy

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Game Boy

An original Game Boy
Also known as South Korea Mini Comboy
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D1
Manufacturer(s) Nintendo
Type(s) Handheld
Generation Fourth generation
Release date Japan April 21, 1989
USA July 31, 1989
Europe September 28, 1990
Introductory price JP¥12,500[1]
Discontinued March 23, 2003[2]
Units sold 64,420,000 units
Media Cartridge
Power 4 AA batteries
CPU Z80 8-bit CMOS
Display STN LCD 160 × 144 pixels, 47 × 43 mm (w x h)[3]
Dimensions 148 x 90 x 32 mm[3]
Weight 220 g[3]
Best-selling game Pokémon Red and Blue Versions, approximately 31 million units
Predecessor Game & Watch
Successor Virtual Boy
Game Boy Color


The Game Boy is Nintendo's second handheld console. It is the first and titular handheld of the Game Boy family, and was launched in Japan and North America in 1989 and later in Europe in 1990. The Game Boy is the handheld counterpart of both the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. In 1998, the Game Boy received a successor, the Game Boy Color.

The Game Boy combines features from both the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game & Watch units. The console features a dull green dot-matrix screen with adjustable contrast dial, five control buttons (a +Control Pad, A Button, B Button, Start Button, and Select Button, the same as on a Nintendo Entertainment System), a single speaker with an adjustable volume dial, and, like its rivals, uses cartridges as physical media for games. The color scheme is made from two tones of grey with accents of black, blue, and dark magenta. All corners of the portrait-oriented rectangular unit are softly rounded except for the bottom right, which is curved. Initial pressings of the Game Boy were bundled with Tetris.

Despite being technologically inferior to its competitors — Sega Game Gear, Atari Lynx, and TurboExpress, all of which had 16-bit full color graphics — the Game Boy received praise for its battery life and durability in design. The Game Boy runs on four AA batteries, allowing for up to 30 hours of gameplay.[3] The Game Boy is one of the best selling handhelds, let alone game consoles, of all time, having solid over 64 million units worldwide (not including its successor, the Game Boy Color).[4]

Production of the Game Boy continued into the early 2000s, even after the release of Game Boy Advance, and would cease production in 2003.[5]

Several Game Boy games have been ported to the Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console.

Development history[edit]

The Game Boy was designed by Nintendo's chief engineer Gunpei Yokoi and the Nintendo R&D1 team. Following the popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System, he pitched the Game Boy concept to Hiroshi Yamauchi, and began working on it. The original internal code name for the Game Boy is Dot Matrix Game, referring to its dot-matrix display unlike Game & Watch handhelds, which have segmented LCDs pre-printed with an overlay, limiting each model to only one game.

The initials DMG are featured on the final product's model number: "DMG-01". Internal reception of the console at Nintendo was initially very poor, with the derogatory nickname "DameGame" from Nintendo employees, in which dame (だめ) means "hopeless" or "lame".[6]

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Hardware specifications[edit]

  • CPU: Z80 8-bit CMOS
  • CPU speed: 4.19 Mhz
  • RAM: 8 Kbyte
  • Maximum resolution: 160 x 144 pixels
  • Colors: Grayscale (four shades of gray; dark olive green for original units)
  • Maximum sprite size: 8 x 16 pixels
  • Maximum number of sprites on screen: 40 sprites, 10 per line
  • Minimum/Maximum cart size: 256 Kbit - 16 Mbit
  • Sound: 4 Channel


Below is a compatibility chart. There are notable color exceptions for this chart, such as Pokémon Gold and Silver Versions, which act as standard black Game Boy Color cartridges but have unusual cartridge colors.

Type Example cartridge Usual color Game Boy mode Compatible
Original Game Boy cartridge Gray
Game Boy Color cartridge (black) Black
Game Boy Color cartridge (clear) Clear


Name Description

Game Link Cable
There is a Game Link Cable accessory that allows for two Game Boys to connect with each other. Pokémon Red and Blue Versions are notable examples of games to take advantage of this feature. A 4-player version of the accessory exists for games that can take advantage of this accessory. Not to be confused with Game Boy Advance's method of doing so. To communicate with later models, such as the Game Boy Pocket or Game Boy Color, a special adapter needs to be used (model MGB-004).

Game Boy Camera
This accessory allows the Game Boy to be used as a monochrome digital camera.

Game Boy Printer
The Game Boy Printer is a peripheral released in 1998. It is compatible with both the Game Boy and Game Boy Color, although most games to use the peripheral are for Game Boy Color. This accessory allows the ability to to make prints of images on special thermal paper. Game Boy Printer connects to the Game Boy via Game Link Cable. Games such as Pokémon Yellow Version, Donkey Kong Country and even the Game Boy Camera make use of this peripheral.

GB Memory Cartridge
Exclusive to Japan, the GB Memory Cartridge is a rewritable version of regular Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges. It was available at kiosks at certain retail stores between 1997–2007.


Name Description

Super Game Boy
The Super Game Boy is not an actual system; rather, it is a Super Nintendo cartridge that one could insert a Game Boy cartridge into, thus allowing people to play Game Boy games on their television screens through the Super Nintendo. Certain games have additional colors that can only be seen while played on a Super Game Boy. Game Boy Color games with black cartridges can be played on the Super Game Boy. The Super Game Boy features are unavailable on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console.

Play It Loud! units
On March 20, 1995, Nintendo released several Game Boy models with colored cases, advertising them in the "Play It Loud!" campaign[7]; in America, the units had a suggested retail price of $54.95.[8] In Japan, these units are called Game Boy Bros. Play It Loud! units have identical specifications to the original Game Boy releases, and have a dark gray border surrounding the game screen. The Play It Loud! Game Boys set a precedent for subsequent Nintendo handhelds, which have all been available in more than one color.

Play It Loud! units were manufactured in red, green, black, yellow, white, blue, and clear (transparent). Blue Play It Loud! units were only released in Europe and Japan. White Play it Loud! units are the rarest, and most of them were released in Japan, although UK Toys "R" Us stores also received an exclusive edition. In the UK, a rare, limited edition Manchester United Game Boy is red, with the logos of the team emblazoned on it. It was released simultaneously with the Play it Loud! handhelds in the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

Game Boy Pocket
The Game Boy Pocket is the first Game Boy remodel. the name implies, it is a pocket-sized Game Boy with its same features, and it was lighter in weight, with a clearer, more monochrome screen and a longer battery life. It requires two AAA batteries rather than four AA batteries in order to play games. The first release had no battery light indicator and it was rapidly replaced with a second release with the battery light due to customer complaints. The second release made its way into markets in several different colors.

Game Boy Light
The Game Boy Light is the second Game Boy remodel, and was released only in Japan on April 14, 1998. The system is slightly bigger than a Game Boy Pocket and came only in two colors, gold and silver. Its main function, as the name implies, is the ability to produce a blue-tinted backlight in order to play games in low light conditions. It was the only Game Boy system to have a proper backlight until the release of the Game Boy Advance SP.

Launch titles[edit]

The Game Boy was released alongside six launch titles. Japan had five launch titles, although North American and Europe each had four launch titles.

Name Japan America Europe
Super Mario Land

Game appearances[edit]

Mario franchise[edit]

The batteries of "Wart's" Game Boy expire.

In the Game Boy comics mini-series by Valiant, Game Boys acted as gateways between the Mushroom World and Earth.

The Club Nintendo comic "Wart steht unter Strom" is about Bowser (who is erroneously named "Wart") who is playing Game Boy. The power of the batteries expires, so Wart carelessly throws the batteries away. Mario reminds him that they should be properly disposed of in containers instead.

In the Nintendo Adventure Book Doors to Doom, Mario and Luigi can encounter Wart, who is relaxing in his lair and playing a Game Boy, having mellowed out and become a skateboarder since his last encounter with the heroes.

In Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Mario is able to buy a game from a Game Boy-playing Toad at the inn in Mushroom Kingdom.

In Luigi's Mansion, there is a Boo called Game Boo, named after the Game Boy and its line of handhelds.

In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, there is an oversized Game Boy as the scoreboard in the Pianta Parlor.

In WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!, 9-Volt has a giant Game Boy in his house.

A stage that takes place in a Game Boy system, Dream Land GB (based on Kirby's Dream Land), appears in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Additionally, during the Classic mode credits minigame, hitting the Nintendo logo towards the end plays the Game Boy start-up sound.

In Super Mario Odyssey, although the Game Boy does not physically appear in the game, one of the Snapshot Mode filters has the graphics style of the Game Boy.

In WarioWare Gold, a Game Boy appears as a souvenir. It is accompanied by the description, "Unlike Game & Watch, the Game Boy used an idea from Famicom: changing games by swapping cartridges. It also used batteries—extras were handy!"




  1. ^ a b "Happy 30th B-Day, Game Boy: Here are six reasons why you’re #1". ArsTechnica. Published April 21, 2019.
  2. ^ Nintendo. Consolidated Sales Transition by Region. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d Technical data". Nintendo of UK (
  4. ^ "A Brief History of Game Console Warfare". BusinessWeek (archived).
  5. ^ "Nintendo Game Boy – 25 facts for its 25th anniversary". The Guardian. Published April 21, 2014.
  6. ^ "NX, Ultra 64, Revolution… Petite histoire de Nintendo à travers ses noms de code". Le (archived). Published March 18, 2015.
  7. ^ "Boy, Oh Game Boy: Play It Loud!". Old School Gamer Magazine. Published February 14, 2019.
  8. ^ Color it loud with hot new Game Boys; Game Boy reflects players own style with five exciting new colors.". The Free Library (BusinessWire) (archived). Published January 9, 1995.