Happy 25th birthday, Nintendo Game Boy!

25 years ago today, on April 21, 1989, Nintendo first released its Game Boy console in Japan. The impact of the device is still being felt as it became the leader in portable gaming for years and established Nintendo as the biggest force in that particular gaming genre.

The Nintendo website mentions that the Game Boy eventually sold 150 million units worldwide, but its influence extends far beyond just cold sales numbers. The original version, with its black and white screen and its 8-bit games, wasn't the most advanced portable console on the market; other devices like the Sega Game Gear were superior in terms of hardware. However, Nintendo was smart to bundle the Game Boy with perhaps the most addicting and perfect game for the console: Tetris.

The combination of the Game Boy with Tetris was the catalyst for a whole generation of kids (and, to be fair, many adults) to grow up on portable gaming. The end result was that Nintendo ruled that genre due to the launch of the Game Boy. Others have tried to enter portable gaming, most recently with Sony with the PSP and PS Vita, but those efforts never came close to Nintendo's success.

Today, Nintendo is selling the 3DS, but portable gaming as a whole is making a big transition from console devices to smartphones, where games like the Angry Birds franchise can experience one billion downloads in less than three years. Nintendo execs have claimed they have no plans to sell smartphone games, but there's no doubt that the mobile gaming revolution that began with the Game Boy is in the middle of a change that could spell the end of a dedicated device like the Game Boy.

Source: Nintendo | Game Boy image via Shutterstock

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Another good part of the GameBoy was battery life, other portables ate up more batteries at once, and faster. I think you could get 10-12 hours from 4xAA instead of 4 hours out of 6xAA on the Game Gear, Lynx, and TurboExpress.

The hardware was a landmark, and spawned many great games. The sad thing is that according to the law, you've got to own one of the (increasingly rare) cartridges to be able to play the game.

Nintendo, Sega - Please make the ROM's for these old games available for download/purchase so they can be emulated legally for everyone and enjoyed by another generation!

LancsRick said,
(increasingly rare) cartridges to be able to play the game.

Has the situation changed that much? The last time I was hunting for cartridges was about 4 years ago - I think I doubled my collection (GB, GBC, GBA) from 2005 to 2010…

I loved the original Game Boy, i don't know what it was but you really felt like you had something special.. to look at and hold, down to the cartridges, every aspect well designed and for how basic it was the games were excellent.

Can't speak for the durability of the original, since I traded it for a GB Color (and then again for the Advance) but my Advance is still going strong, and the cartridges are still going strong too.

DConnell said,
Can't speak for the durability of the original

I can: I still have 3 original GBs here - they still work, but there is quiet a wear on the dpad from ~20 years of gaming…

Eh call me old fashioned. Still prefer mobile gaming that has proper buttons on it.. not a fan of gaming with a touchscreen only. Play my daughter's 3DS off and on, and not embarrassed to admit I got a GameBoy here somewhere. Gaming on my phone.. meh, clunky aside from "lightweight games."

I still use my PSP and Gameboy Advance on occasion. You're right - for gaming physical buttons are much more effective. It's tiresome to get killed in a game because your fingers migrated from the virtual onscreen buttons. It's a much nicer experience with the tactile feedback of actual direction pad and buttons to press.

That's the only thing that keeps me from doing a lot of phone gaming.

I'd probably do more phone & tablet gaming if there were Bluetooth gamepad addons - clip it onto your phone or tablet and use the direction pad & buttons.

DConnell said,
I'd probably do more phone & tablet gaming if there were Bluetooth gamepad addons - clip it onto your phone or tablet and use the direction pad & buttons.

I think there already is, but that's going to be a juggling act. On something like a Surface or other device with a kickstand I can see it being feasible, but a regular phone or tablet, personally I'll pass, playing a game on a screen that's propped up against a soda can or something so I can hold the controller? Nah.

Well, I was thinking of more a snap-on item, which would make your phone function kind of like a Gameboy. It'd have to be a nice solid connection so the phone didn't fall off the pad, but I think it could work. I'd want to retain the portability while adding the improved controls.

DConnell said,
Well, I was thinking of more a snap-on item, which would make your phone function kind of like a Gameboy.

Ohhhh I get you now. Sorta like the Razer Edge and the like, but removable and attaches to an existing device. Hrm interesting idea if they can get it to attach to different sized devices.. I wouldn't be averse to trying one out to see how it handled.

Precisely. It could be designed for particular devices (but then only the iPhone would get it) or adjustable so you could attach it to almost any phone.

Let me clarify. Windows Phone is supported, but hardly any developers have baked it into apps. So far, I know the VGBA8, GCB8, and SNES8x emulators support it, but I don't know of anything beyond that.

I would love to see Nintendo move their games to smart phones. They would probably have to hold off a year or so on new games so they don't kill their own portable division.

Bertch said,
I would love to see Nintendo move their games to smart phones

Absolutely NOT!!! I would never EVER want that to happen.

"Article"
Today, Nintendo is selling the 3DS, but portable gaming as a whole is making a big transition from console devices to smartphones, where games like the Angry Birds franchise can experience one billion downloads in less than three years. Nintendo execs have claimed they have no plans to sell smartphone games, but there's no doubt that the mobile gaming revolution that began with the Game Boy is in the middle of a change that could spell the end of a dedicated device like the Game Boy.

This +1.