Nintendo Game Boy 25 Years Old: A Salute To The Mobile Pioneer

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 today

Nintendo’s Game Boy is 25 years old today, and while the average gamer might not see why that’s a big deal, the veterans look back with reverence. The Game Boy was the first portable console, running on AA batteries instead of a power cord, although if you insisted on being plugged in, the option was there.

Nintendo’s first portable gaming system wasn’t the first portable ever, just the most trusted. For years before, Tiger Electronics had made small LCD powered video games that used two action buttons. Nintendo simply made the concept more practical, making the games more complicated and allowing us to swap out games while we were out on the road (probably much to our parents’ annoyance). The sound and graphics were not impressive either, but it was still the most advanced concept in gaming we knew. The sounds were usually canned at best, and the graphics were different shades of black and gray against a green background.

So what was it that made the Game Boy, 25 years ago, such a hit? The games made it a must-have. We finally had the ability to play Super Mario and Tetris without having to sit in front of a TV. If that isn’t enough to convince you that the Game Boy was one of the most important inventions of its time, consider the fact that without it, we probably wouldn’t have such an expansive market of video games on our smartphones and tablets today.

While today it’s considered a bad sign for your video game system to be a brick, the Game Boy almost literally was one. It was about the size of the original Xbox controller and had about the same size screen as most of our smartphones. Of course, the Game Boy 25 years ago was state of the art technology, and since then has evolved several times.

The Game Boy was re-released in different colors and in smaller versions, and the first exciting breakthrough was the ability to convert older games into multi-color displays. This gadget was the Game Boy Color, and it revolutionized portable gaming. It had never been done before. Even that one game we were all playing at that time, Pokemon Red and/or Blue, was given its first sequel with Gold and Silver, and it was now in color.

The Nintendo Game Boy continued to evolve with new releases, eventually reaching its peak with the Game Boy Advance. It had a full color screen, was capable of much more advanced games, used a WiFi signal to connect with other consoles, and we could fold it up and put it in our pockets.

Nintendo’s DS, short for “dual screen,” was the first version which ditched the name Game Boy completely. For those of us who played the Game Boy 25 years ago, the classic brick console still holds a place in our hearts, and we will always remember it as the first step of many toward the age of Flappy Bird and portable Scrabble.