The first Nintendo Game Boy saw the light of day in 1989 and since then we’ve seen nearly twenty different handhelds from Nintendo. Where Nintendo initially released several Game Boy variants, they later switched to the Nintendo DS and 3DS. The result: a unique variety of handhelds. From small, light versions to editions with a camera and even 3D effects. In short, the Game Boy that started it all is legendary! Time to take another look at Nintendo’s handheld showpiece. Denis takes you back in time!
Before the Game Boy Came: Game and Watch (1980)
Since 1980 Nintendo has released several Game and Watch computer games. In fact, these games were the simple predecessors of what would eventually become the Nintendo Game Boy. The Game and Watch video games were semi-digital single- and double-screen games where basically nothing moved, but where you were shown alternating frames on your screen that gave the illusion that things were moving. These games were popular, but did not yet have the possibility to play different games. This all changed with the arrival of the original Game Boy.
Game Boy (1989)
Gunpei Yokoi was the grandfather of the original Game Boy, which came out in 1989. This Nintendo handheld was a revolution for its time and managed to gain unprecedented popularity despite the competition. Despite the fact that SEGA already had a handheld on the market with a full color screen, Nintendo still won the battle with a black and white handheld that made for fantastic gameplay. Important in this win was the battery life of the Nintendo Game Boy vs. the SEGA Game Gear. The Game boy could function for up to thirty hours on 4 AA batteries, ideal for long car journeys. In addition, it was also the only console that you could play Pokémon on since 1998. When you consider that the original Game Boy came out in 1989 and production of the various versions of the original ceased in 2003, you immediately notice how immensely popular this handheld has been…and actually still is…
A Minor Success: The Virtual Boy (1995)
As early as 1995, Nintendo made a frantic attempt to introduce virtual reality to the general public, namely with the Virtual Boy. This device projects video games on two screens within glasses. By having each eye look at its own screen, a primitive, three-dimensional gaming experience is created. Unfortunately, it was not possible to play Game Boy games on the Virtual Boy, but this console eventually came with its own game library. In the end, few games were released for this console and the purchase of this virtual handheld was very expensive. The Virtual Boy was eventually withdrawn from the market in 1996. Gamers sometimes even got headaches from playing or became nauseous… It is now a rare and unique collector’s item.
Small is beautiful? Game Boy Pocket (1996)
The Game Boy Pocket was an upgrade from the original Game Boy. The main point with this new version was that it was much lighter than the original Game Boy, which was very large and bulky. In addition, the Game Boy Pocket was smaller, but had a larger screen. This Pocket version was easier to carry around, but like the original Game Boy, it didn’t have any internal lights illuminating the screen, making it of little use if you wanted to play with this handheld at night. Fortunately, it was possible to play games from the original Game Boy on this handheld console.
Game Boy Color (1998)
In 1998, the Game Boy finally made its move to a color screen. This flagship of Nintendo is the third best-selling game console of all time. A wonderful achievement from the house of Super Mario. The Game Boy Color was the size of the Game Boy Pocket and could play all original Game Boy games in color. In addition, there was also a dedicated Game Boy Color video game library. The success of this console was due to the overlap of the libraries of the original Game Boy and the Color version.
Game Boy Light (1998)
The Game Boy Light was a Game Boy Pocket with internal lights for nighttime gaming. Unfortunately, this handheld was limited to Japan and North America. The European market was never Nintendo’s target for this handheld, which was a real shame, because the original Game Boy was immensely popular here too.
Game Boy Advance (2001)
Until then, the release of the Game Boy Advance was Nintendo’s most revolutionary move. The Game Boy Pocket and Color used 8-bit graphics, but the Game Boy Advance used a whopping 32-bit, making it essentially a handheld version of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES, also known as Super Nintendo). It was strange that this console also had no internal lights, so you could not play with it in the dark.
Game Boy Advance SP (2003)
In 2003, the flip phone was all the rage and Nintendo capitalized on this in 2003 with the release of the fold-out Nintendo game Boy Advance SP. The reason for this was also that fans did not find the layout of the original Game Boy Advance useful. Finally, the Game Boy Advance SP received a limited update with the Game Boy Advance AGS-101 in 2005. This version had internal lighting, allowing you to play in the dark. Incidentally, the letters “SP” stand for “Special Project”, which was actually a flip-phone version of a Game Boy.
A new handheld future with the Nintendo DS (2004)
The Nintendo DS brought a big change, one of which was that the Game Boy name was dropped. After all, many people still refer to post-Game Boy-era Nintendo handhelds as Game Boy, but that aside… Another major change was that this Nintendo handheld had a dual screen, with the bottom screen being a touch screen. The Nintendo DS could be connected to the internet, it could play MP3s and you could also play the entire Game Boy Advance library on it. Nintendo has sold a staggering 154 million units of this handheld, making the Nintendo DS the best-selling handheld ever and the second best-selling video game console. This console is only surpassed by Sony’s PlayStation 2.
Game Boy Micro (2005)
The Game Boy Micro was the last Nintendo console ever to bear the “Game Boy” name. The Game Boy Micro could only play Game Boy Advance games, so this mini handheld was not a huge success. With the Game Boy Micro’s size, Nintendo hoped to appeal to a new fan base, but this version of the Game Boy made it painfully clear that the Game Boy era was really over after 16 years of service.
Nintendo DS Lite (2006)
As with previous handhelds, the Nintendo DS will also receive an upgraded version in 2006 in the form of the Nintendo DS Lite. This version is smaller and lighter, which made this version many times more modern. The images that this handheld can display are also slightly sharper.
Nintendo DSi (2008)
The Nintendo DSi was another upgraded version of the original Nintendo DS. This version did not have a slot to play Game Boy Advance games. This marked the end of the games that were especially for “Game Boy” handhelds. New to the Nintendo DSi was that it had a built-in camera to take on-the-go photos and also play games that required the camera. The camera was nice, but not necessarily revolutionary or a highly sought-after upgrade. In 2009, an XL version of this handheld came on the market, which was useful for people who still wanted to play handheld games on a larger screen. Besides the fact that both screens of this version of the Nintendo DSi were considerably larger, both the normal version and the XL version could be almost the same.
Nintendo 3DS (2011)
Then there was the Nintendo 3DS. A revolutionary device that let you game in 3D without the need for 3D glasses. Unfortunately, some gamers thought it was a real revolution and others just a gimmick or hype. Still, this console managed to sell about 80 million units. Several version of this 3D handheld appeared. There was of course the original 3DS in 2011, followed by the Nintendo 3DS XL (2012), New Nintendo 3DS (2014) and Nintendo 3DS XL (2014), Nintendo 2DS (2013) and finally Nintendo 2DS XL (2017). There were also many gamers who did not respond well to the 3D effects, but loved the games of this generation of handhelds, which is why 2DS versions appeared. You could also play with Augmented Reality (AR) on the Nintendo 3DS and this generation of handhelds also had a lot of online possibilities.
Nintendo Switch (2017)
Well, most of you know enough by now. 28 years after the first Game Boy, Nintendo brings its biggest video game revolution yet, as the Nintendo Switch is a hybrid video game console that lets you play both on-the-go and on the TV. The Nintendo Switch will be the fastest-selling gaming console ever in both North America and Japan in 2021. In the meantime, 2 different versions of this console have appeared, namely: the original Nintendo Switch in 2017 (TV and handheld mode) and the Nintendo Switch Lite in 2019 (handheld only).
On October 8, the Nintendo Switch OLED will be released, a version of the Nintendo Switch with a larger 17.8 cm screen (screen diagonal), 64 GB internal storage space, an adjustable stand, improved sound quality, and a network cable can be attached to the docking station. connect. The Switch OLED will be available in white and black.
Are you also curious about what the future will hold for handheld gaming? Which Nintendo handheld is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!