The Game Boy began its journey in 1980 with Japanese video game designer Gunpei Yokoi. After observing businessmen trying to entertain themselves on the train, he saw a need for a reliable handheld console. This early version that set the groundwork for the Game Boy was titled "Game and Watch" and looked similar to today's Nintendo DS.
Nintendo wasn't the first to try and push a handheld console; the Microvision, released 10 years earlier, was the first. Game Boy also had competition from Sega Game Gear, Atari Lynx, and TurboExpress, all which seemed more advanced than the Game Boy at the time. How did Nintendo manage to beat these other handheld consoles? The others had color, backlights, and networking capabilities, all of which certainly affected the price. Game Boy was released at $89.99 and managed to get 10–12 hours of playtime, more than double the playtime of its competitors, proving people valued functionality over looks. With Game Boy used in so many homes it opened the door to a new audience. Its accessibility meant more people could indulge in video games wherever and whenever they pleased. According to reports from Nintendo, 46% of players were female, a large jump from the 29% who used the NES.
The major staples of the system were Tetris and Super Mario Bros. Other games included Alleyway, Baseball, and Tennis. Satoshi Tajiri, a fan of the link cable accessory, designed Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue for the Game Boy, which hit the market in 1996. Pokemon has since taken a top spot in the Nintendo world and has become a huge selling point for many consoles to come.
The Game Boy also opened many doors for what handheld games could be. The steer away from Tetris and Alleyway toward Pokemon, Zelda, Final Fantasy, and other story-based games made a huge impact on what people would come to expect. Handheld games no longer served as distractions but as real forms of entertainment that could last many hours.
Overall, the system did wonders. It brought many of our favorite titles into existence and paved the road for future games. The ingenuity of Nintendo had proved itself again and allowed them to continue to create games and systems.
Here's to 25 years of Game Boy, and here's to 25 more years of Nintendo!