I think back on my childhood, a few things come to mind Sports, scouts, hanging
out with friends. Among all these thoughts, it's almost impossible to avoid bringing
up Nintendo's Gameboy sometime or another. Why? Well, it was small and easy to
use. Anywhere you went there was always a possibility that you might run into
a person with another Gameboy, allowing you to check out the others games and
possibly go head-to-head in a two-player game. The battery life was awesome, and
if you had an extra battery pack or a screen light, you could play anywhere anytime.
Not only did my friends all have or want a Gameboy, I can recall parents who
would take their kids Gameboy every once in a while, or buy their own, just to
play Tetris or Mario Land. How did that little green and black screen actually
capture an audience from every age group? It's all in the software. From Mario
to Wario, there were so many games to choose from. The fact that the Gameboy was
portable however was a huge aid in the success of the little guy.
I can remember from the years around when the Gameboy released is that there was
not much out at the time regarding portable gamming. It was either sit in front
of the TV or nothing of you wanted to play a good game. There were alternatives
that were addictive in their own way. I don't personally remember the original
"book" shaped Game & Watch series; I do remember the wrist watch
Game & Watch series. You could get a small wrist watch with Zelda, Mario,
Donkey Kong and many others. Also I remember the Tiger brand games like Double
Dragon. All of these were black and white LCD screened games with graphics printed
directly onto the screen. These game were fun, but had a limited play value per
unit. Each unit was only one game, and since you were limited to where you could
move, you basically knew what to expect every time after the first time you played.
This was the scene as I remember it when the Gameboy hit the town, so to speak.
Even thought there were systems like NES and SNES out during the life of the Gameboy
with superior graphics, the Gameboy had a certain appeal to many people who had
free time away from the home. That turned out to be around 120 million if you
count how many sold over the years. You could stick it a backpack if you were
a student, pack it into a brief case if you worked in an office, or tuck it in
your glove compartment if you lived out of your car.
The Gameboy was
an obvious triumph in hand held gamming. It was not alone on the market however.
At the same time Nintendo released the Gameboy, Atari released their handheld
system named the Lynx. Latter Sega released their hand held named the Game Gear.
Both were color, and were technically speaking much more advanced. What the two
systems did not however offer was the selection of games or the battery life of
the Gameboy. 30 hours of play on a Gameboy was better than a few hours with the
other guys; and that short battery life equaled out to a short market life. Also,
Nintendo had a long standing selection of games to build upon. You could not go
wrong with a Gameboy, and if you were a fan things only got better as time went
After the original system, Nintendo started to enhance the Gameboy
by releasing alternatives the Gameboy Pocket and Gameboy Color. This offered the
option for fans go grow into a better system. And since Nintendo made the new
versions of the Gameboy compatible with older games nobody was excluded from the
fun. In fact when the Gameboy Advanced came out as the first real upgrade from
the Original Gameboy regarding pure graphics and game play, it still supported
many of the old games.
So incredible portability, high quality games,
and upgrades that left everybody in the loop are only a few key factors that kept
competitors at bay for years. Most people you talk to these days can remember
playing or owning one some time or another, and can recall the ease of use it
offered to individuals of any age.