The Game Boy (JP) (DMG-001 model) is a Nintendo manufactured portable handheld console released initially in 1989. It was the first dedicated 8-bit handheld system from the company using interchangeable cartridges to play many different titles. It features a 2.6" 4-shade LCD, stereo sound through headphones, and interchangeable cartridges. The button layout is based on that of the Nintendo Entertainment System controller. It uses 4 AA batteries but can also be used with an AC Adapter to power the system from a wall socket. Of the many handheld systems to use ROM cartridges, the Game Boy was the most popular of its time.

Smart marketing and a trusted brand led the Game Boy to become the most successful handheld platform of its era, despite being the least impressive when it came to technology compared to other platforms, like the Sega Game Gear and the Atari Lynx. In this Gunpei Yokoi has called his design philosophy, "Lateral thinking of withered technology." This meaning that the technology used in the Game Boy was older and cheaper, yet much more well understood. The lateral thinking means that the older technology is used in innovative and intellectual ways to create a greater gaming experience.

The Game Boy was affordable, had a long battery life, and it was bolstered by an impressive software library. Various video games such as Tetris, Super Mario Land, Kirby's Dream Land and the Pokémon games led the system to a very long life, with the original Game Boy being remade various times. The most impressive was the Game Boy Color, which gave Game Boy games color graphics compared to the original Game Boy's four shades of grey.

The Game Boy was developed by Nintendo R&D1 and conceived by Gunpei Yokoi, who had previously created the Game & Watch series, Metroid, and assisted Shigeru Miyamoto in creating Donkey Kong. The Game Boy was his most successful product of all time, selling 118.69 million units worldwide (including all variations). The Game Boy is considered the successor to the Game & Watch series of games.


Gunpei Yokoi had become one of the best known employees of Nintendo, having created various inventions such as the Game & Watch series, Metroid, and various knick-knacks before Nintendo ventured into video games. Wanting to combine the success of the Game & Watch series and the Nintendo Entertainment System, Gunpei Yokoi imagined the Game Boy. Two years before the NES was released in 1987, Gunpei Yokoi approached Hiroshi Yamauchi, the then global Nintendo president, and showed him a prototype that he and his team had created. Yamauchi, impressed by the prototype, speculated the system would sell 25 million copies in 3 years. 

Lincoln GB Russia

Howard Lincoln, on his trip to meet up with Tetris creator Pajitnov, donated 100 Game Boys to Russian children.

Across the pond, Minoru Arakawa, the Nintendo of America president, said he thought they could push 100 million units. Arakawa knew that it would take more than Mario and The Legend of Zelda to accomplish this goal, and remembered back to a game he experienced in July of 1988: Tetris, created by a Russian by the name of Alexey Pajitnov.

The game had become very popular, and since there were no handheld incarnations of Tetris, Arakawa and a few others from Nintendo of America headed to Russia to try to start a deal, and a few months before the system launched, Nintendo decided that Tetris would be the big game they would bundle with the console, similar to how Super Mario Bros. was bundled with the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Three years later, the console sold 7 million more hardware units than expected with 32 million units sold. By 1997, the Game Boy had sold a whopping 60 million units, becoming one of Nintendo's most successful products of all time.

System sales ceased in 2003, but its name lived on through its successor, the Game Boy Advance systems through 2010.

Technical Specification[]

  • CPU: Custom 8-bit Sharp LR35902 (4.19 MHz)
  • RAM: 1 KB internal (can be extended up to 4 KB)
  • Video RAM: 1 KB internal
  • ROM: On-CPU-Die 256-byte bootstrap; 32 KB, 64 KB, 128 KB, 256 KB, 512 KB, 1 MB cartridges
  • Sound: 2 square wave generators, 1 programmable 32-sample 4-bit PCM wave sample channel, 1 white noise generator, cartridge external audio input. The unit only has one speaker, but headphones provide stereo sound. The external audio input was never used in any commercial games.
  • Display: Reflective STN LCD 160 × 144 pixels (86 ppi)
  • Frame rate: Approximately 59.7 per second
  • Screen size: 66 mm diagonal
  • Color Palette: 2-bit (4 shades of "gray" (green to (very) dark green))
  • Maximum sprite size: 8 x 8 pixels or 8 x 16 pixels
  • Maximum sprites: 40 (10 per scanline)
  • Communication: Up to 4 Game Boys can be linked together via serial ports
  • Power: 6 V, 0.7 W (4 AA batteries provide ~10–12 hours)
  • Dimensions: 90 mm(W) × 148 mm(H) × 32 mm(D)
  • Weight: 200g (without batteries)

Best-Selling Game Boy Games[]

This is based on Nintendo's shipments from this source[3]

  1. Pokémon Red and Blue (31.38 million)
  2. Tetris (30.26 million)
  3. Pokémon Gold and Silver (23.10 million)
  4. Super Mario Land (18.14 million)
  5. Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition (14.64 million)
  6. Super Mario Land 2 (11.18 million)
  7. Pokémon Crystal (Exclusive to Game Boy Color) (6.39 million)
  8. Dr. Mario (5.34 million)
  9. Pokémon Pinball (Exclusive to Game Boy Color) (5.31 million)
  10. Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land (5.19 million)


The Game Boy's phenomenal success has led to a huge legacy, with the Game Boy line lasting over fifteen years.

To distinguish from the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance, the original Game Boy has been renamed the Game Boy Classic.

Various Game Boy games have been added to the 3DS Virtual Console

Appearances in other games[]

The Game Boy was also featured in Scribblenauts. When interacting with the game the graphics turn into a style reminiscent of old, Game Boy aesthetics..

Captain N: The Game Master[]

Game Boy became a character since the second season opener.


  • A Game Boy Notebook was released in 2019 with 100 pages and a hologram of Mario jumping to complete World 1 of Super Mario Land.
  • Konami sold the Hyper Boy, a shell for the Game Boy turning it into a small but clunky arcade cabinet.

See also[]