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Released in 1990, the Nintendo Game Boy was one of the first portable consoles ever and certainly one of the most successful. Created by visionary and influential hardware designer Gunpei Yokoi, the Game Boy was able to soar over Sega's portable rival, the Game Gear, by sacrificing a color screen in exchange for a long battery life.
The very first Game Boy was roughly the size of a large paperback book. At the time, it was rather bulk and heavy but also renowned for its sturdiness. Able to withstand the wear and tear of an average day out and about with a child, the Game Boy was also been known to survive far more significant damage. Tales of a Game Boy working after a fire, experiencing severe water damage, or falls from great heights are common.
Among the launch games for the Game Boy were Tetris and Super Mario Land. Although it had no association with Nintendo's popular mascot character, Tetris became the game most associated with the Game Boy. Selling over thirty million copies, Nintendo wouldn't see another hit of its magnitude until nearly a decade later when Pokemon was released.
in 1996, Nintendo would release the first major redesign of the Game Boy. The Game Boy Pocket was a slimmer and lighter version of the classic Game Boy. Although there were no changes to the graphics, it was redesigned to use less power. While the original Game Boy required four batteries, the Game Boy Pocket was able to run on only two.
The first true upgrade to the Game Boy would come in the form of the Game Boy Colour. Although it played all of the classic Game Boy games, it was able to display up to 56 colours at once. Featuring more memory and a faster processor, the GBC was technically a new system. However, it was able to play all the old Game Boy games with shaded palettes, making it a seamless transition. In terms of technical power, it was essentially a portable NES with a smaller screen resolution.
The Game Boy Advance would bring the Game Boy line into the next generation. Released in 2001, this featured graphics even better than the Super Nintendo. With long battery life and full color support, it was one of the most successful portables of its time. Like the Gameboy Colour, the GBA featured full backwards compatibility allowing all the older Game Boy titles to be played alongside the new GBA cartridges.
Today, the Game Boy franchise has been put aside for the Nintendo DS. The original DS models had special slots where Game Boy Advance cartridges could be loaded. However, the newest DS revisions have removed the GBA ports, hearkening an end to the Nintendo Game Boy. However, any portable gaming device released will always bear the legacy of the Game Boy's innovation.