On this day…April 21st in the year 1989 Tokyo (AFP) released its 8-bit Game Boy. Yes, Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks its 25th anniversary today with the portable device’s legacy living on in cutting-edge smartphone games and among legions of nostalgic fans.
Billed as a “handy game machine”, few knew it would start a revolution that did for portable gaming what Sony’s Walkman had done for mobile music. It also helped turn Super Mario and Donkey Kong into global franchises, allowing users to change their favorite games on the go just by inserting small cartridges into the device.
Although they did not invent portable gaming…Game Boy’s discount price and popular software blew away the competition at the time and pushed mobile gaming into the mainstream. It laid the foundation for what we call portable gaming today, regardless of whether it is console or smartphone games, because the basic concept is the same… That’s the legacy of Game Boy. “The device also allowed users to connect with another gamer through a link cable, setting off the beginnings of online gaming networks that now numbers millions of users.
“It made gaming portable, but what’s great was it was built on the concept of networking, enabling users to connect and battle each other- ‘It was a revolution’!
The unfortunate part of this story is that a quarter century later, the company’s financial fortunes have suffered. The Game Boy was discontinued years ago. But in its heyday, Nintendo sold almost 119 million original Game Boy consoles and shifted another 81.5 million units of the next-generation Game Boy Advance series, which was launched in 2001.
Although we can all acknowledge that the small screen and games seems outdated…in the past, it seemed to be enough. For one 21 year old student…today’s games have so many possibilities. However, it’s not necessarily a good thing as the struggles with today’s hyper-fast world of 3d offerings where movement is limitless…is usually tricky to master. “Recent games have become so complicated that you can be totally lost on what you’re supposed to be doing,” he said, admitting he sometimes feels “nostalgic” for simple games with black dots and horizontal scrolls. Happy Birthday Gameboy!