Nintendo Game Boy celebrates thirtieth birthday

Nintendo’s Game Boy has just celebrated its thirtieth birthday. The handheld was released in Japan on April 21, 1989, after which another year passed before the European release was a fact. More than 100 million units have been sold worldwide.

Nintendo sold its Game Boy with well-known, popular games such as Tetris and Super Mario Land, which resulted in good sales figures immediately after release; for example, millions of Game Boy units were sold in the first months after its release, leaving Nintendo far behind competitors such as Sega and Atari.

That success also led to a successor, the Game Boy Color. Together with the original model, more than 118 million units were sold worldwide. After the release of the Color, Nintendo came up with the popular Game Boy Advance, released in 2001. Nintendo no longer uses the Game Boy brand name, but has switched to the DS series of handheld consoles.

The original Game Boy had an 8-bit processor from Sharp with type number LR35902. It does its job at 4.19MHz, accompanied by 8kB ram. The screen is an LCD with the familiar green background, and a resolution of 160×144 pixels, which can render images at approximately 60fps. Nintendo mainly got good reviews because of the battery life; it lasted about 15 hours on four AA batteries.

Several games that came out before the Game Boy and Game Boy Color are still popular, and are often played by running the ROM files with an emulator. This can count on little sympathy from Nintendo; the company has sued several websites for distributing ROM files.