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Game Boy
Game Boy
Gameboy logo.svg
Nintendo Gameboy.jpg
Product familyGame Boy line
TypeHandheld game console
GenerationFourth generation
Retail availability
  • JP April 21, 1989[1]
  • NA July 31, 1989[2]
  • EU September 28, 1990
DiscontinuedMarch 23, 2003[3]
Units soldWorldwide: 118.69 million (including Game Boy (Play it Loud!), Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light and Color units)
MediaGame Boy cartridges, referred to as Game Paks.
Best-selling gameTetris, 30.26 million (pack-in/separately)
Pokémon Red and Blue, 23.64 million approximately (as of January 18, 2009).[4]
PredecessorGame & Watch
SuccessorGame Boy Pocket (redesign)
Game Boy Light (redesign)
Game Boy Color (successor)[5]

The Game Boy (ゲームボーイ Gēmu Bōi?) is an 8-bit handheld video game device developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It was released in Japan on April 21, 1989 (1989-04-21), in North America in August 1989 (1989-08), and in Europe on September 28, 1990 (1990-09-28). It is the first handheld console in the Game Boy line, and was created by Gunpei Yokoi and Nintendo Research & Development 1—the same staff who had designed the Game & Watch series as well as several popular games for the Nintendo Entertainment System.[6] Redesigned versions were released in 1996 and 1998, in the form of Game Boy Pocket, and Game Boy Light (Japan only), respectively.

The Game Boy is Nintendo's second handheld system following the Game & Watch series introduced in 1980, and it combined features from both the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game & Watch.[6] It was originally bundled with the puzzle game Tetris.[7]

As part of the fourth generation of gaming, the Game Boy competed with the Sega Game Gear, Atari Lynx, and the TurboExpress. Despite these other technologically superior handheld consoles,[8] the Game Boy was a tremendous success. The Game Boy and its successor, the Game Boy Color,[5] have both combined sold 118.69 million units worldwide. Upon its release in the United States, it sold its entire shipment of one million units within weeks.[9]



The right side of the Game Boy, showing the volume control and the extension connector, with detached protector.

The Game Boy has four operation buttons labeled "A", "B", "SELECT", and "START", as well as a directional pad.[10] There is a volume control dial on the right side of the console and a similar knob on the left side to adjust the contrast.[11] At the top of the Game Boy, a sliding on-off switch and the slot for the Game Boy cartridges are located.[12] Nintendo recommends users leave a cartridge in the slot to prevent dust and dirt from entering the system.[13]

The Game Boy also contains optional input and/or output connectors. On the left side of the system is an external power supply jack that allows users to use an external rechargeable battery pack or AC adapter (sold separately) instead of four AA batteries.[14] The Game Boy requires 6 V DC of at least 150 mA.[15] A 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack is located on the bottom side of the console which allows users to listen to the audio with headphones or speakers.[16]

On the right side is a port that allows a user to connect to another Game Boy system via a link cable, provided both users are playing the same game.[17] The port can also be used to connect a Game Boy Printer. The link cable was originally designed for players to play head-to-head two-player games such as in Tetris. However, game developer Satoshi Tajiri would later use the link cable technology as a method of communication and networking in the popular Pokémon video game series.[18]

Technical specifications

A Game Boy, opened
  • CPU: Custom 8-bit Sharp LR35902[19] core at 4.19 MHz. This processor is similar to an Intel 8080 in that none of the registers introduced in the Z80 are present. However, some of the Z80's instruction set enhancements over the stock 8080, particularly bit manipulation, are present. Still other instructions are unique to this particular flavor of Z80 CPU. The core also contains integrated sound generation.[20]
  • RAM: 8 kB internal S-RAM[21] (can be extended up to 32 kB)[22]
  • Video RAM: 8 kB internal[22]
  • ROM: On-CPU-Die 256-byte bootstrap;[23] 256 kb, 512 kb, 1 Mb, 2 Mb, 4 Mb and 8 Mb cartridges
  • Sound: 2 pulse wave generators, 1 PCM 4-bit wave sample (64 4-bit samples played in 1×64 bank or 2×32 bank) channel, 1 noise generator, and one audio input from the cartridge.[24] The unit only has one speaker, but headphones provide stereo sound (for further information, see Game Boy music)
  • Display: Reflective STN LCD[25] 160 × 144 pixels[22]
  • Frame Rate: Approx. 59.7 frames per second on a regular Game Boy, 61.1 on a Super Game Boy[26]
  • Vertical Blank Rate: Approx 1.1 ms[26]
  • Screen size: 66 mm (2.6 in) diagonal[20]
  • Color Palette: 2-bit (4 shades of "gray" {light to very dark olive green})[22]
  • Communication: Up to 2 Game Boys can be linked together via built-in serial ports, up to 4 with a DMG-07 4-player adapter.[22]
  • Power: 6 V, 0.7 W (4 AA batteries provide 15–30+ hours)[25]
  • Dimensions: 90 mm (W) × 148 mm (H) × 32 mm (D) / 3.5″ × 5.8″ × 1.3″ [25]


Launch Title Japan North America Europe
Super Mario LandYesYesYes
BaseballYesYesnot at launch
Tetrisnot at launchYesYes
Tennisnot at launchYesNo


Play It Loud!

Transparent Game Boy Play It Loud!

On January 1, 1995, Nintendo released several Game Boy models with colored cases, advertising them in the "Play It Loud!" campaign[27] (Japanese name: Game Boy Bros. /ゲームボーイブロス/ゲームボーイブラザース). Specifications for this unit remain exactly the same as the original Game Boy, including the monochromatic screen. This new line of colored Game Boys would set a precedent for later Nintendo handhelds; the Game Boy Pocket, the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance (including the SP and Micro), Nintendo DS (including the Lite, DSi, DSi XL), and Nintendo 3DS (including XL,2DS) all feature different colored units. Play It Loud! units were manufactured in red, green, black, yellow, white, blue, and clear (transparent) cases. The blue edition, for reasons unknown, was never depicted in any commercials or magazine advertisements in the United States, and is much harder to find than the other six. A very 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. The Play It Loud's screens also have a darker border than the normal Game Boy.

Game Boy Pocket

The 1st release Game Boy Pocket

In 1996, Nintendo released the Game Boy Pocket: a smaller, lighter unit that requires fewer batteries. It has space for two AAA batteries, which provides approximately 10 hours of game play. The Pocket has a smaller link port, which requires an adapter to link with the older Game Boy. The port design is used on all subsequent Game Boy models, excluding the Game Boy Micro. The screen was changed to a true black-and-white display, rather than the "pea soup" monochromatic display of the original Game Boy. Also, the Game Boy Pocket (GBP) has a larger screen than the Game Boy Color (GBC) that later superseded it. The GBP's screen has a 65 mm (2.56 in) diagonal, 48.5 mm (1.91 in) width, and 43.5 mm (1.71 in) height, compared to a 59 mm (2.32 in) diagonal for the GBC. Although, like its predecessor, the Game Boy Pocket has no backlight to allow play in a darkened area, it did notably improve visibility and pixel response-time (virtually eliminating video ghosting). The first version did not have a power LED. This was soon added due to public demand, along with new Game Boy Pocket units of different colors (released on April 28, 1997), some of them new to the Game Boy line. There were several limited-edition Game Boy Pockets including a metallic Ice Blue unit and a pink model exclusive to Japan. The Game Boy Pocket was not a new software platform and played the same software as the original Game Boy model.

Game Boy Light

Game Boy Light

The Game Boy Light was released on April 14, 1998 for ¥6,800[28] and was only available in Japan. The Game Boy Light is only slightly bigger than the Game Boy Pocket and features an Electroluminescent backlight for low-light conditions. It uses 2 AA batteries, which gave it approximately 20 hours with the light off and 12 with it on. It was available in two standard colors; Gold and Silver, as well as numerous special editions- an Astro Boy edition with a clear case with an Astro Boy picture on it, an Osamu Tezuka World shop edition with a clear red case and a picture of his characters, a solid yellow Pokémon Center Tokyo version, a clear 'skeleton' Famitsu edition which had only 5,000 units released, and a clear yellow edition separate from the Pokémon Center Tokyo version.

It was the only handheld Nintendo produced with a lit screen until the release of the Game Boy Advance SP in 2003.


In its first two weeks in Japan, from its release on April 21, 1989, the entire stock consisting of 300,000 units was sold; a few months later, the Game Boy's release in the United States on July 31, 1989 saw 40,000 units sold on its first day.[29] The Game Boy and Game Boy Color combined have sold 118.69 million units worldwide, with 32.47 million units in Japan, 44.06 million in the Americas, and 42.16 million in other regions. By Japanese fiscal year 1997, before Game Boy Color's release in late-1998, the Game Boy alone had sold 64.42 million units worldwide.[3][30]

At the time of its release, the Atari Lynx was also just being introduced to the market. This system featured color graphics, a backlit screen, and networking capabilities.[31] However, its release price of $189.95 and substantial requirement of 6 AA batteries that would provide roughly only four or five hours of gameplay (compared to 10–12 hours on 4 AA batteries and a release price of $89.99 for the Game Boy) doomed it to a second-rate status.[32] Nintendo also experienced heavy competition from Sega's Game Gear. To promote its new color console, Sega aired a number of negative ad campaigns in the United States that mocked the Game Boy's monochrome display compared to Game Gear's full color display. Like the Lynx, it too required six AA batteries that only lasted about 4–6 hours and was much more expensive than the Game Boy;[33] however, the Game Gear had the advantage of being fully compatible (with an adapter) with all Master System games. While not as successful as the Game Boy, it sold from 1991 until early 1997,[34] and sold around 11 million units in total.

In 1995, Nintendo of America announced that 46% of Game Boy players were female, which was higher than the percentage of female players for both the Nintendo Entertainment System (29%) and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (14%).[35] In 2009, the Game Boy was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, 20 years after its introduction.[36] As of June 6, 2011, Game Boy and Game Boy Color games are available on the Virtual Console service on the Nintendo 3DS's Nintendo eShop.[37]

See also


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  9. ^ Kent 2001, p. 416. "According to an article in Time magazine, the one million Game Boys sent to the United States in 1989 met only half the demand for the product. That allotment sold out in a matter of weeks and its black and white (except for Konami/Factor 5 games and SeaQuest DSV,, was shown in color like the Game Gear version."
  10. ^ Owner's Manual, p. 5. "(12) Operation buttons — The controls for playing games. (See game manuals for button functions.)"
  11. ^ Owner's Manual, pp. 4–5. "(5) Volume dial (VOL) — Adjusts the sound volume…(7)Contrast adjustment (CONTRAST) — Adjusts the contrast of the display."
  12. ^ Owner's Manual, pp. 3–4. "(3) Game Pak slot — Insert the Nintendo GAME BOY Game Pak here. (See page 7 for instructions on inserting Game Pak)"
  13. ^ Owner's Manual, p. 10. "To avoid dust and dirt getting in the Game Boy unit, always leave a Game Pak inserted when not in use."
  14. ^ Owner's Manual, p. 4. "(2) External power supply jack — You can connect a Rechargeable Battery Pack (sold separately) for longer play."
  15. ^ Script error
  16. ^ Owner's Manual, p. 5. "(10) Headphone jack (PHONES) — Connect the stereo headphones that come with the GAME BOY to enjoy the impressive sounds of games without disturbing others around you...."
  17. ^ Owner's Manual, pp. 4, 8. "(4) Extension connector (EXT CONNECTOR) — Connects to other GAME BOY…Do not insert different games in the interconnected Game Boys."
  18. ^ Script error
  19. ^ Script error
  20. ^ a b Script error
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  22. ^ a b c d e Script error
  23. ^ Script error
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  25. ^ a b c Script error
  26. ^ a b Script error
  27. ^ Script error
  28. ^ Script error
  29. ^ Script error
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External links

Game Boy News

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Red Cup Rebellion - 6 hrs ago
The No. 10 Rebs host the No. 7 Tigers in a monster SEC matchup, beginning with a nationally televised Thursday night game. Powe-Boy: Hey, Rust. Thanks for meeting me. Perfect baseball weather we... more
This Week on the Nintendo eShop (Apr. 17, 2014) - 13 hrs ago
... alongside Flowerworks HD on the eShop. On the 3DS eShop, a few original games debut, including Bit Boy!! Arcade, with its Punch-Out!!-esque multiple exclamation points, and Smash Cat Heroes.... more
Turn your iPhone into a GAMEBOY
Mail Online - UK - 14 hrs ago
The Nineties gaming experience is unrecognisable compared to the hyper-real immersive gameplay we enjoy today. But that hasn't stopped some people craving the comfort of a clunky Game Boy. Now... more
Boy line, and was created by Gunpei Yokoi and Nintendo Research & Development 1—the same staff who had designed the Game & Watch series as well as... more
This is a list of video game accessories that have been released for the Game Boy handheld console and its successors. Accessories add functionality... more
Game Boy music is a type of chip music produced using a portable gaming console of the Game Boy line. To produce music of the genre, one needs a Game more

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