Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Revolution is Mobile !!! Nintendo's Game Boy !

On July 31st 1989 I was 13 years old and Nintendo once again had lit the fires to the torches that would  lead the Video Game Revolution all the way in to the next millennium. Nintendo's popular line of Game & Watch handhelds had been selling quite steadily for almost tens years but their creator Gunpei Yokoi now head of Nintendo's Research and Development - 1 knew that when viewed along side the experiences offered at home they did not compare. Yokoi and team were intrusted with heading up Nintendo's new product. The philosophy Gunpei had used in creating the G&M handhelds would continue here, using older yet familiar tech in new & inventive ways he would create a worthy device that could be enjoyed by the masses in having a price point as pleasing and accessible as the games themselves . Using a LCD screen that only displayed 4 shades of grey not only kept the costs down but the battery life was more than acceptable running on 4 AA, some Nintendo Execs had pushed Yokoi to use a color screen but the competition later proved his point when the need for more batteries was found  totally unacceptable by kids that hated having to both change them and ask their parents for more. Another concept brought to the Game Boy was "familiarity" kids already were familiar with the A and B buttons as well as the start and select so why not utilize this, the D- Pad that Gunpei created for the Game & Watches and the NES also made an appearance which helped keep the profile of the unit flat. A single adjustable Mono speaker was used instead of stereo but a head phone port was added and a contrast dial allowed picture clarity to be changed due to the users light availability. Nintendo capitalized further by having ports of its own hit game series on the unit and getting its outside developers involved was easy since the technology was not cutting edge nor unfamiliar, many developers followed the big N's lead and ported NES titles over or made sequels. Both Metroid and the Legend of Zelda released sequels that are part of their chronology.

The Game boy was Lunched in Japan on April 21 1989 with the titles available being Super Mario Land, Alleyway( Nintendo's Arkanoid ), Yukuman ( Mahjong ) and Baseball ( A Baseball game duh) The Game Boy sold 300,000 units its first day in Japan. The N.American release was several months later on July 31st 1989 launching with the same titles plus the packed in Tetris and Tennis and yet in the first few weeks sold out its entire shipment of 1 MILLION Game Boys. Over the first few years the sales continued to soar and many add-ons & attachments were sold by Nintendo and other developers such as lights and cameras and printers.

I recently got a bunch of Game Boys that needed TLC and that I plan to Give Away as Prizes check out the video below.

In 1989 I was a 13 year old lad and spoon fed the Comic book ads and TV adverts and not to mention the bombardment of information published and delivered to my door by Nintendo Power so naturally by September I had to have one. I was very strategic about the things I asked my folks for I never wasted any of their kindness on frivolous items or fads and really tried to just plead for things as birthday or christmas gifts or even combined since the two were 5 days apart. When I walked up to my towering father armed with literature from Nintendo Power and using words & terms like "Dot Matrix" and "on the go" I was met with this... " Does it play the Nintendo games you already have ? " I answered "UM no" and it was returned with " Well I cant see spending money on another gaming system and the games aren't cheap you know, Im sorry but No" ....... even though I was devastated I knew he was right .... from his prospective a man who had only just been introduced to gaming through a child it was a fad that could crash again like in 1983 and how many games or devices does a kid need ( Whoa stop yelling !! I hear you but thats now this was then ). So I did the only thing I could... something had never really done on such a scale before then.... SAVE AND BUY MY OWN GAME BOY !!! At dinner that night I told my folks my plan and asked if they minded if I had one as long as I paid for it myself... Im sure they probably looked at each other and laughed in the inside but they said it was fine with them. That night I tore out the Toys R Us catalog page that had the price printed in large black numbers next to the picture of the Game Boy, if I were to ever own one I need to save $89 dollars and 99 cents I didn't know about Tax or didn't realize it applied here. At Christmas time the week of my Birthday I went with my Mom and Dad to go visit my cousins and God Parents ( whom always seemed to want me and my cousin to have the same item at Xmas) I walked in the door and my Aunt wanted me to open my present in front of her so she handed me a small but heavy box that held a miniature Black and White Sony TV called a Watchman with a 2x2 inch screen, Holy Sh*t a Tv that I could walk a round with I didn't know this existed so dope !! Just as I finished thanking her with a big grin and hug for this gift that seemed over the top for a kid my age  my cousin walked by with a distracted hello as his attention was focused in his hands at the gray box of my desires....  a Game Boy (I hadn't even seen or touched one at this point ) My Aunt then looked over at me still staring in wonder at my cousin and said " Yeah we were just about to buy you one but your mom told us that you wanted to buy it on your own"....... I turned and looked up at my mother and for the first time ever contemplated asking her what I had done to make her hate me.

 Hey I was a child and emotions where rough, but around the end of January beginning February I had saved enough money !!! My very sweet Mother had agreed to drive me one monday after school to Toys R Us I ran straight home and off we were. Toys R Us had an annoying Ticket anti theft system where you went to the section grabbed the ticket for an electronics item and they would relinquish it after payment. I remember running ahead through the store to the games section to grab the Ticket that would net me may Game Boy, as I stood there smiling and bouncing up an down with ticket in hand my Mom walked up and told me that I had forgot to add in Tax for the purchase ... my heart stopped .........  Smiling down at me she told me she would cover the evil tax and buy me one game too boot !!!  I quickly hugged the patron saint of gamers that stood before me and ran around the isle to the games wall and found the incredibly small  Game Boy section at the bottom and reached to find Super Mario Land was sold out.... Solar striker ( a shooter) sold out ..... Alley way..... Yup sold out and even Baseball sold out. I went home that day in my Mother's green Ford Pinto staring at my Game Boy firmly in one hand and occasionally glancing at a copy of Tennis in my other.

Whoa is that what I looked like ?

check out the extra battery pack 

A bootleg of the Light Boy attachment

The Game Boy has been though many changes over the years and never once been in danger of losing its title as King to any competitor not the Sega Game Gear or Atari Lynx that went directly against Gunpei's Ideals and had both color screens and modern processors but suffered inflated price tags just under 200 dollars (same cost as a NES) and NO battery life. The Turbo Express that played the same games as its Home Console the Turbo Grafix 16 giving you an instant library was thought to take down the lil' Grey Boy but at $300 and only a year after the Game Boy's release not many were willing to pay the hefty price. In 1999 Neo Geo looked to jump in the portable market but for a company that was about to be sold it had no money to dump into advertising, despite that fact that Neo Geo Pocket Color cost only $70 and boasted some of the best portable fighting games ever made like SNK vs CAPCOM its was a failure. 

After his many sucesses Gunpei Yokoi had finally felt failure when he was pressured to prematurely  release the Virtual Boy in order to make profits for developing  the coming N64 and soon after resigned from Nintendo in 1996 and in 1997 he worked on the Wonder Swan handheld system for Bandai right before his unfortunate death in a Car accident. Yokoi and another bussiness man stepped out of their cars to inspect them after a very small fender bender when they were struck buy another car. The Wonder Swan was released in 1999 without Yokoi ever seeing it finished and was also no match for the his former Creation. Any system that tried to stand its ground would lose because by 1996 Nintendo had changed the the landscape yet again and introduced Poke'mon to the world. Love it or hate it Poke'mon changed portable gaming its probably the singular most owned and played portable game in existence and is still going. The Game Boy lead the way for 15 long years with revisions like the Game Boy Pocket, Light, Color, Advance. SP and Micro until Nintendo finally put the name Game Boy to rest in 2004 with then introduction of the DS a new system also based of Gunpei's first creation the Game&Watch Double Screen. People still inspired by the OG Game Boy have made DIY versions of other consoles portable, improving the Game Boy with back lit screen mods  and theres even a whole genre of people making music with the Grey Bricks.  The Portable gaming world owes its existence to the Game Boy and in turn Nintendo as do we ALL owe portable gaming to Gunpei Yokoi a man whom mark will forever be felt on the world and a name we should all say out loud at least once..... Gunpei Yokoi.

Gunpei Yokoi

Game Boy Micro

For playing at home on SNES

Advance SP one of my favorites

Please free free to email The Final Boss any Stories you may have about your past history with the Game Boy in its many versions and we can share them with each other... Also let it be Known that by now the Contest winners from the Famicom Disk article have received their prizes, I shipped out a Original Game Boy to one and a  8-Bit Castlevania painting and Famicom game to another. Prizes reflect what I have in stock and what you don't already own if I can help it. No one has met the City Connection Challenge so that will end with no winner. Below are shots of some of the Game Boys I received and the super strange packaging. And keep your eyes peeled for up coming challenges and contests. 

the Castlevania painting... by me.

Um WTF ?!?!

This is 3hours of my life

detailed cleaning

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