The Gameboy must have game companies scratching their heads. How could the portable with one of the worst system specs dominate the video game industry? Ten years ago, I called Nintendo in disappointment. The Sega Genesis was released, but there was no counter console from Nintendo. Where was Nintendo’s killer system? The response Nintendo gave was that only the Gameboy would be released that year.
It wouldn’t be until 1991 that the Super Nintendo was released. Never in my wildest dreams would I picture the Gameboy outlasting the Genesis and the Super Nintendo. The way things are going, the Gameboy will probably be popular after the PlayStation and the Nintendo 64. Each time a more powerful portable came out, it still could not stand against the Gameboy.
Turbo Express Portable: This was an impressive portable. The Turbo Express played the exact same games as the 16-BIT home console, but there were serious design problems. While the Turbo Express was powerful, it consumed batteries. It was also rather expensive. While released around the same time as the Gameboy, the Turbo Graphics could not even put a dent in Gameboy sales.
Atari Lynx: The Lynx and the Jaguar were Atari’s last ditch efforts to regain the glory of the 2600 days. While the Lynx was technically superior, the Gameboy easily won out. The original Lynx was huge, way too big for a portable. The Lynx Jr. was right on the money, it was better designed and competitively priced… but it was too late. People didn’t trust Atari anymore and the system sold poorly.
Game Gear: Sega took a shot at taking down the champ, but also failed. It suffered the same design flaws as the other systems. While technically superior the Gameboy, the Game Gear munched down batteries. The Game Gear also split the market with the Lynx. People were forced to choose between the two new systems. In the end, the Game Boy won out.
CDX: While not quite a portable, it deserves a mention. Sega released a portable Sega Genesis and Sega CD in one small unit. While a rather impressive piece of hardware, the price was insane. The CDX originally sold for around $400. Very few were sold. Nowadays the CDX is the Holy Grail of classic video game collectors.
Now Neo-Geo is throwing their color portable into the mix. I won’t be surprised if it meets the same fate as those before it. The Gameboy is the King of all video game portables. It’s also the most sold video game system of all time. If it wasn’t for outstanding Gameboy sales, Nintendo would be a laughing stock in Japan. The Gameboy in Japan is actually out selling the Nintendo 64. A 10 year old system is crushing the latest Nintendo hardware.
The revised editions of the Gameboy (Gameboy Pocket) are also rather impressive. While still lacking in system specs, the Gameboy is being refined. Today’s Gameboy consumes even less power than the ones before it.
The Color Gameboy is a joke – technically speaking of course. Think of it as a portable Nintendo… the old 8-BIT Nintendo… which was popular back in ’86. Oddly enough, now I’m actually excited about the Gameboy. Today’s Gameboy is a gateway into the past. Pixel perfect translations of classic 8-Bit Nintendo hits now can be played on the go. Super Mario Bros., Zelda, Shadow Gate and many others are re-released in their former glory.
The odd thing is… not only is the Gameboy the most successful portable of all time, the Gameboy is also a fun system. I totally hated it at first, for it’s lack of breakthrough technology, but I have played it. Every so often I find myself playing Revenge of the Gator or Tetris. Today’s 3-D technical monsters lack a certain flair that the Gameboy has. The Gameboy is fun for all… not just hardcore gamers. Commuters, housewives, classic gamers or just about anyone can find something entertaining with the Gameboy. With 10 years on its belt, the Gameboy has amassed a huge software library.
It bothers me, but it also enlightens me to realize that the Gameboy is the most successful system of all time. The Gameboy is living proof that the old clique can ring true – sometime less is more!
Pluses: Easy on batteries, huge software library, fun nostalgic gaming action.
Minuses: Games are often overpriced, not terribly powerful, new gameboy color cases are downed in ugly colors.