Nintendo Game Boy

The Game Boy is an 8-bit handheld game console which was developed and manufactured by Nintendo and first released on April 21, 1989, in North America on July 31, 1989 and in Europe on September 28, 1990. It is the first handheld console in the Game Boy line and was created and published by Satoru Okada and Nintendo Research & Development 1. This same team, led by Gunpei Yokoi at the time, is credited with designing the Game & Watch series as well as several popular games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. 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 first handheld game console and it combined features from both the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game & Watch. It was sold either as a standalone unit or bundled with the puzzle game Tetris.

During its early lifetime, the Game Boy mainly competed with Sega‘s Game Gear, Atari‘s Lynx, and NEC‘s TurboExpress. The Game Boy outsold its rivals and became a significant success. The Game Boy and its successor, the Game Boy Color, have sold over 118 million units worldwide. Upon the Game Boy’s release in the United States, its entire shipment of one million units was sold within a few weeks. Production of the Game Boy and Game Boy Color were discontinued in the early 2000s, being replaced by the subsequent Game Boy Advance, released in 2001.

The original internal codename for the Game Boy was “Dot Matrix Game”, which its initials came to be featured on the final product’s model number, “DMG-01”. The internal reception of the device was initially very poor; the DMG even earned from Nintendo employees the derogatory nickname “DameGame”, dame being the Japanese for “hopeless” or “lame” in that context.

The Game Boy has four operation buttons labeled “A”, “B”, “SELECT”, and “START”, as well as a directional pad. There is a volume control dial on the right side of the device and a similar dial on the left side to adjust the contrast.[16] At the top of the Game Boy, a sliding on-off switch and the slot for the Game Boy cartridges are located. The on-off switch includes a physical lockout to prevent users from either inserting or removing a cartridge while the unit is switched on. Nintendo recommends users leave a cartridge in the slot to prevent dust and dirt from entering the system.

The Game Boy also contains optional input and/or output connectors. On the left side of the system is an external 3.5mm × 1.35mm DC power supply jack that allows users to use an external rechargeable battery pack or AC adapter (sold separately) instead of four AA batteries.[19] The Game Boy requires 6 V DC of at least 150 mA. A 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack is located on the bottom side of the unit which allows users to listen to the audio with the bundled headphones or external speakers.

The right-side of the device offers a port which allows a user to connect to another Game Boy system via a link cable, provided both users are playing the same game. 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.

  • CPU Custom 8-bit Sharp LR35902 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 8080, particularly bit manipulation, are present. Still other instructions are unique to this particular flavor of 8080/Z80 CPU. Parity flag, half of conditional and all input-output instructions were removed from 8080 instruction set also. The IC also contains integrated sound generation.
  • RAM: 8 kB internal S-RAM (can be extended up to 32 kB)
  • Video RAM: 8 kB internal
  • ROM: On-CPU-Die 256-byte bootstrap; 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. The unit only has one speaker, but the headphone port outputs stereo sound.
  • Display: Reflective STN LCD 160 × 144 pixels
  • Frame rate: Approximately 59.7 frames per second
  • Vertical blank duration: Approx 1.1 ms
  • Screen size: 66 mm (2.6 in) diagonal
  • Color palette: 2-bit (4 shades of “gray” {light to very dark olive green})
  • Communication: 2 Game Boys can be linked together via built-in serial ports, up to 4 with a DMG-07 4-player adapter. And 16 in maximum.
  • Power: 6 V, 0.7 W (4 AA batteries provide approximately 15 hours of gameplay)
  • Dimensions: 90 mm (W) × 148 mm (H) × 32 mm (D) / 3.5″ × 5.8″ × 1.3″
  • Weight: 220 g

Though it was less technically advanced than the Lynx and other competitors, the Game Boy’s excellent battery life and rugged hardware and the popularity of the bundled Tetris and other games made it much more successful. 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.

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.

At a March 14, 1994 press conference in San Francisco, Nintendo vice president of marketing Peter Main answered queries about when Nintendo was coming out with a color handheld system by stating that sales of the Game Boy were strong enough that it had decided to hold off on developing a successor handheld for the near future.

 

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