The 21st of April of the 1989 was released for the first time the Game Boy, the portable console that accompained at least two generations and that became unforgettable. 30 years after its release how did it change? What happened during three decades to one of the most loved and sold console of always?
Game Boy’s birth
The idea of the Game Boy was easy and brilliant, a small and portable console, with few buttons, essential, which can be brought everywhere. The brilliant insight was up to Gunpei Yokoi, electronic engineering of Nintendo, that a normal day, in the underground, saw a man play with the buttons of its own LCD watch and he thought that he might need a portable console with which can play.
The Game Boy, by the way, wasn’t the first portable console. Before of it there were already a serie of LED’s games by Mattel and the Microvision, a cartridges console with a small LCD screen, portable but extremely bulky.
The one created by Nintendo was a whole other console, a console that promised to enter in the history and that changed for ever the videogamers’ world.
The first portable console experiments
The first Yokoi’s creation was the Game Boy. It was the 1980 and the portable console Game & Watch was a serie of pre-printed screens on which we could play the big classics Nintendo, like Zelda, Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros.
The console had anyway a huge success. In the following years many started to think most congenial solutions, like Epyx, which presented the project Handy Game, a revolutionary portable console. But the other companies took time, Nintendo no, by crowding out the world and putting first of all on the marketplace the first real portable console: the Game Boy.
It was the end of the ’80s, the videogames were a thing for few, a close niche of videogamers that lived hidden at home with the home consoles or that had to go in the game room.
The Game Boy was thought so to be available to everyone. A small, compacted console, with few buttons which make it easy to use. The children can bring it everywhere and the parents aren’t worry about the fact that it is a delicate and expensive object.
It seems a real game and its spreading blows up in the ’90s. Nintendo is writing the videogames’ history, from now on everything will be different. The videogamers aren’t any more a small community, but the videogames’ world is now part of the human culture.
Other videogames’ companies try to challenge Nintendo with portable consoles. They released, for example, Lynx by Atari or Game Gear by Sega, but no one was able to stop the unstoppable enthusiasm of the Game Boy in the ’90s.
Nintendo focused all on the right characteristics, even though it was minimalist, the portable console allowed an unmatched gameplay. Many gadgets helped to make it so popular, like the Link Cable, that allowed to play with two Game Boy between friends.
“Every pixel had to fight for its right to be on the screen, and as result the games were brought to maximise their potential”.
But to definitively enshrine the Game Boy’s success and to make it the driving force of the global culture of the ’90s, was the release in the 1996 of the first Pokemon. In that years were released Pokemon Red, Blue and Green and it’s been sold 31 millions of copies.
Nintendo DS and Switch
Nintendo never abandoned the console that everyone loved in the ’90s. The main concepts of the Game Boy can be seen in the Nintendo DS and in the Switch, the last console that wants to join the two worlds of the portable and the home.
The Game Boy is still the third most sold console of always, after the Playstation 2 and the Nintendo DS, but it will remain anyway at the first place in the hearts of the generation that in the years ‘90/2000 fully lived it. Happy anniversary Game Boy!
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