Game boy story

Game boy was created by Gunpei Yokoi and his team after the huge success of Game & Watch.

Why is Game & Watch important to understanding the Game boy? The Game&Watch console was developed under non-standard conditions. Its ideologist Yokoi came up with know-how on a high-speed train: his neighbor in the carriage “played” on a calculator, pressing different buttons out of boredom. Yokoi immediately thought that it would be worth creating a game that was compact in format and would really engage its user for a long time. The programmer presented this concept to Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi. At first, the head of the corporation did not react in any way to this speech of his subordinate. Only later, having agreed with the calculator manufacturer Sharp, he authorized the promotion of the project. The first Game & Watch consoles were introduced to audiences in 1980. Their technological basis is a Sharp processor and a segmented screen consisting of drawn parts.

The project took off: the company was able to sell 43.6 million consoles. Yokoi received carte blanche for development other projects.

Game boy became one of them.

Yokoi believed that the new console should be cheap and simple, but the user should be able to change game cartridges.

This point of view was not supported by Yokoi’s deputy, Satoru Okada. He said that Nintendo should release a more powerful, expensive and productive device that would work for several years.

Yokoi ultimately agreed with Okada’s arguments, setting only one condition – the new console must be released in black and white.

Okada, having received permission to develop from his boss, took action. On his way there were numerous behind-the-scenes intrigues, blocking work for several years after the first presentation of the toy. However, the innovator and his team did not give up: in 1989, the Dot Matrix Game (that is what the future Game Boy was originally called) appeared on store shelves.

How was the development of the console carried out? Okada Later talked about some of the technical details of creating the console: “When we [делали] Game Boy, we first laid out all the internal components side by side. I asked whoever was running it to come up with the best, most compact way to squeeze it all into one device. The vertical form factor won. Initially, I conceived a horizontal form factor that would be easy to hold in hands. But they said that the horizontal option created too many problems with the placement of components, so they settled on the vertical one.”

At the start of sales in Japan and Europe, Nintendo presented 4 games, and five in the USA.

What were these games? Japanese mahjong Yakuman, several sports games (Tennis, Baseball), of course – Tetris from the Soviet inventor Alexei Pajitnov and Super Mario Land.

What are the technical characteristics Game Boy?

  • Processor – 8-bit;

  • RAM and video memory are all 8 KB;

  • Resolution – 160*144;

  • Sound: 4 channels;

  • The maximum number of sprites is 40.

Of course, now these technical characteristics cause shock or even a little ridicule. But at that time the novelty belonged to the category of a technical revolution.

People swept the console off the shelves. In Japan, the first batch of 300 thousand copies sold For two weeks. In the USA, 40 thousand consoles were sold on the day of release.

And this was the finale?

No. If there is commercial success, the company strives to develop it.

In 1996, the second Gameboy Pocket console was released. Power supply – 2 batteries AAA (which led to a decrease in the battery life of the console). Some market researchers write that subjectively, the second generation of set-top boxes was smaller, thinner, and more convenient. The advantages in the form of interesting games remained.

On April 14, 1998, Game Boy Light was released, the second version of the original Game Boy, which was intended for Japan. A distinctive feature of the console is electroluminescent screen backlight. The Game Boy Light didn’t last long on the market, as the Game Boy Color came out six months later. The main feature of this console is the ability to play in full color mode (56 colors on the screen). In addition, the Game Boy Color had a faster processor and larger (compared to previous models) Memory.

In 2001, the Game Boy Advance console was released. The processor here was already 32-bit. Nintendo fan sites also indicate a Z80 coprocessor with a frequency of 8 or 4 MHz for backward compatibility with the Game Boy.

Based on this console, the Game Boy Advance SP and Game Boy Micro were later released separately (this console was focused primarily on compactness and glossiness).

What games were released for these consoles?

Nintendo’s most popular toys are associated with the Game Boy.

Firstly, we can’t help but mention the games about the Mario brothers. The dashing plumbers have defended their mushroom kingdom countless times, becoming cult heroes.

Secondly, of course, this is the Pokemon series. Starting from Pokemon Red and Blue, Nintendo continually expanded its fictional universe populated by creatures with supernatural powers. The success of the games (and then cartoons) has led to the reverence of these magical creatures: in the land of the rising sun there is pokemon centers, pokemon cafe; sometimes they pass pikachu marches. Surprisingly, what is now considered almost a national pastime once barely passed through Nintendo’s filter.

The era of the Game Boy ended with the era of mobile phones. Nintendo stopped supporting these gaming devices in 2003.

But the main reason for the decline of the Game Boy was the death of creator Gunpei Yokoi in a car accident on October 4, 1997. It was he who lobbied for all the updates and changes that made the console a truly popular symbol of the era. Alas, the inventor did not find a successor. And the corporation itself focused on other projects. Who knows, if Gunpei Yokoi had lived, maybe the Game Boy would have lasted much longer on the market.

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