The Gameboy And Its History

By: Tony Nguyen, Journalist

The Gameboy is an 8-bit handheld game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It was first released in Japan on April 21, 1989. It was released in North America in the same year, then in Europe in the late 90s. The original Gameboy was created by Nintendo’s most innovative employee, Gunpei Yokoi. Gunpei was a toy designer born in Japan in 1941. He had a distinctive taste in games and had a keen eye for creating weird and wonderful toys. Gunpei wanted the Gameboy to be incredibly well built with the ability to be played over a day.
It was the first video game that players could take anywhere, and they could play them to their heart’s content—
or until the Gameboy ran out of battery.

All original Gameboys were bundled with Tetris, an addictive game developed in 1985 by Alexey Pazhitnov, assisted by Dmitry Pavlosky and Vadim Gerasimov. Around 100 million copies of the Gameboy Original were sold. Thirty-three million of those copies included Tetris, with the most bought game right before Pokémon.

After the original Gameboy was made, the Gameboy Link Cable came out. It was a Gameboy that allowed you to play games with other Gameboys.

The Gameboy had a problem: it didn’t have any other games. The team then added individual titles onto different cartridges that could be changed at will so that people could collect and purchase games they wished without having to buy other handhelds.

Then on July 21, 1996, the Gameboy Pocket was made. It was a lighter, more portable handheld that could do everything the original could do but better. Instead of 4xAA batteries, they changed the power supply to 3xAAA batteries while keeping the 10-hour lifespan. They changed the screen slightly by adding a black and white display, allowing for more different animation and reducing the blur that you’d get with fast-moving games.
This move also allowed them to slim down the unit, but while slimming it down, they missed out on a critical component which was the battery light. Many customers missed this feature as it would cause many missed saved states when the console ran out of juice.

The Gameboy Pocket was Gunpei’s last project for Nintendo. On August 15, 1996, Gunpei left the gaming giants after 31 years at Nintendo. He left with a number of his colleagues to form a new company called Koto and then created the Wonderswan handheld. This new portable gaming machine brought joy to thousands of gamers throughout Japan who loved playing the best Wonderswan games wherever they went.