Nintendo’s Game Boy is 25 years old this week.
The company’s first handheld released in 1989 and was the first truly successful multi-game handheld system, setting the standard for all portables to come and laying the foundation for the DS, the best-selling console of all time.
The 8-bit console went through various hardware revisions – including arguable successor the Game Boy Color – before finally yielding its place to the Game Boy Advance in 2001. It was available through 2003, generating 118 million unit sales.
Among its many accomplishments, the Game Boy can be credited with popularising Tetris, now one of the world’s best-known games, but it was also host to a variety of Nintendo franchise entires which stand among home console releases as the best of the best. A quick office poll nominated Super Mario Land, Metroid 2: Return of Samus and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening as particular favourites. After years of unavailability, many of these classics are finding new life at last through the Virtual Console for 3DS and Wii U. (Pokémon debuted on the Game Boy, too, and we all know how that worked out.)
The handheld also had its share of weird experiments and failures, with Nintendo experimenting with maybe the world’s first dedicated handheld selfie camera, which even supported a tiny printer. It was rubbish, but it was also very interesting.
The Game Boy furiously outsold more technically able rivals like Sega’s Game Gear and Atari’s Lynx, and its descendants still dominate handheld gaming, bravely squaring up against fierce competition from smartphones and other multi-function devices. Let’s raise a glass to the little console that could.