Why Game Boy, at 20, Still Rules

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2009 3:51 PM CDT
Later edition Game Boys.   (©Last Hero)
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(Newser) – Nintendo's Game Boy portable gaming system has been around for 20 years today, and even has a spiritual successor in the DS. Benj Edwards takes a look at why the franchise is a lasting one on Ars Technica.

  • Tetris: "Every new hardware platform needs a 'killer app,'" and that was as true in 1989 as it is now. The addictive game perfectly fit the capabilities of the tiny console that could.
  • Battery life: The Game Boy could run at least 10 hours on 4 AAs, propelling the relatively crude monochrome system past its energy-guzzling color competition.

  • Name recognition: Nintendo's NES was the top console when the Game Boy was released, attracting customers who'd never heard of Sega and were tired of Atari.
  • Price: The Game Boy's no-frills approach—and Nintendo's commitment to keeping costs low even as technology improved—made it the go-to system for the on-the-go gamer.
  • Pokemon: A perfectly timed mid-career boost from a sensational role-playing game kept Nintendo's handheld current through the turn of the millenium.
  • Flexibility: Just one of 7 distinct models are fully back compatible, even with full redesigns, the addition of color, and sharper displays.