The Game Boy first went on sale in Nintendo's Japanese heartlands in April 1989 and quickly became a phenomenon with amazing games, groundbreaking peripherals and brilliant successors such as the Nintendo Switch. With this iconic console now turning 30, we look back at some of the biggest moments in its history.
Game Boy (21 April 1989)
Released in 1989, the original Nintendo Game Boy was an 8-bit portable console that could display four different shades of olive green on its 160 by 144 pixel display. Although less technologically advanced than the Sega Game Gear and Atari Lynx, the Nintendo Game Boy was cheaper and required less batteries.
Tetris (14 June 1989)
A launch title for the Nintendo Game Boy in North America, Tetris (Bullet-Proof Software, 1989) was the first video game compatible with the Nintendo Game Link Cable.
Super Game Boy (1994)
The record for first portable cartridge adaptor is held by the Nintendo Super Game Boy (1994). The adapter allowed Nintendo Game Boy cartridges to play on a Super Nintendo Entertainment System home console.
Pokémon Red & Green (27 February 1996)
Released almost seven years into the Game Boy’s lifecycle, Pokémon Red and Green (Game Freak, 1996) gave a new lease of life to the aging Nintendo portable. It was released as Pokémon Red and Blue (Game Freak, 1998) over two years later in North America, and has gone on to become the best-selling Game Boy videogame, shifting 31.37 million copies as of 9 March 2018.
Game Boy Pocket (1996)
A more compact version of the Nintendo Game Boy, the Nintendo Game Boy Pocket cut the battery requirements down from four AA batteries to just two AAA batteries. The Game Boy Pocket also significantly cut down the "ghosting" effect that plagued the original console.
Game Boy Light (14 April 1998)
Only released in Japan, the Nintendo Game Boy Light was the first Game Boy to have a back-lit screen for low light conditions. It had numerous variations including an Astro Boy model with clear plastic a Pokémon Centre model in yellow.
Game Boy Camera & Printer (21 February 1998)
The Nintendo Game Boy Camera could capture black and white digital images at a resolution of 128 by 112 pixels. These images could then be printed on thermal paper with the Nintendo Game Boy Printer.
Game Boy Color (21 October 1998)
Released globally in 1998, the Nintendo Game Boy Color was the first backwards-compatible handheld console. The console was capable of showing up to 56 different colours simultaneously from a palette on 32,768.
Super Game Boy 2 (1998)
The original Nintendo Super Game Boy ran games 2.4% faster than the Nintendo Game Boy. The Japan-only Nintendo Super Game Boy 2 corrected this irregularity with exact parity.
Transfer Pak (1999)
Unlike the Nintendo Super Game Boy, the Nintendo Transfer Pak was used for transferring data between Nintendo Game Boy games and Nintendo 64 games. This includes Pokémon Red and Blue (Game Freak, 1998) and Pokémon Stadium (Nintendo EAD, 1999).
Pokémon Yellow (US 18 October 1999)
Pokémon Yellow (Game Freak, 1998) was the last video game released for the Nintendo Game Boy in North America. Launching in North America on 18 October 1999, it released over a decade after the Nintendo Game Boy launched in North America on 31 July 1989.
Pokémon Gold & Silver (21 November 1999)
The hotly anticipated sequel to Pokémon Red and Green (Game Freak, 1996), Pokémon Gold and Silver (Game Freak, 1999) holds the record for the best-selling Game Boy Color video game with 23.1 million units sold.
Mobile Game Boy Adapter (27 January 2001)
The Nintendo Mobile Game Boy Adapter was a peripheral released in Japan. It allowed Nintendo Game Boy Color and Nintendo Game Boy Advanced owners to connect to compatible mobile phones. It was primarily used for Pokémon Crystal (Game Freak, 2000).
Game Boy Advance (21 March 2001)
Released in 2001, the Nintendo Game Boy Advance was the successor to the Nintendo Game Boy Color. It featured a 32-bit processor and a resolution of 240 by 160 pixels.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit (21 July 2001)
Nintendo e-Reader (December 2001)
Released for Japan in 2001 and North America in 2002, the Nintendo e-Reader was a peripheral for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance. It was used to scan e-Reader cards that contained everything from classic Nintendo Entertainment System games to new opponents to battle in Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire (Game Freak, 2002).
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (15 November 2002)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Griptonite Games, 2002) was the last game released for the Nintendo Game Boy Color in North America. Rather than the term "Muggle", the game instead opts for "non-magical people".
Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire (21 November 2002)
The record for best-selling Game Boy Advance videogame is held by Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire (Game Freak, 2002) with 15.85m units sold.
Game Boy Advance SP (14 February 2003)
Released globally in 2003, the Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP was an upgraded version of the Nintendo Game Boy Advance with a clamshell design. It was the first handheld console with a rechargeable battery.
Game Boy Player (21 March 2003)
The Nintendo Game Boy Player was an add-on that allowed Nintendo Game Boy, Nintendo Game Boy Color and Nintendo Game Boy Advance games to play on a Nintendo GameCube. A different version of the Game Boy Player was released for the Panasonic Q, a hybrid system manufactured by Panasonic that was only released in Japan.
Game Boy Advance Wireless Adapter (2004)
The Nintendo Game Boy Advance Wireless Adapter was an alternative to the Nintendo Game Link Cable. It was compatible with a number of games, including Pokémon Emerald (Game Freak, 2004), Mario Golf: Advance Tour (Camelot Software Planning, 2004) and Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django (Konami, 2004).
Game Boy Micro (13 September 2005)
Released globally in 2005, the Nintendo Game Boy Micro was the last Game Boy console released by Nintendo. It was also the first console to feature interchangeable face plates.
Samurai Deeper Kyo (12 February 2008)
Samurai Deeper Kyo (Marvelous Entertainment, 2002) was the last video game released for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance in North America. It was localised by Destineer and bundled with a re-release of the Samurai Deeper Kyo anime (Studio Deen, 2002) in in 2008.
2011 (26 February 2011)
Nintendo's portables embrace the third dimension with the release of the Nintendo 3DS. Game Boy and Game Boy Color games are made available from the 3DS' online shop.
Two Game Boy fans make their own record-breaking homages to the popular console.
In Antwerp, Belgium, Ilhan Ünal produces the largest Game Boy measuring 1.01 m tall, 0.62 m wide and 0.2 m deep.
Approximately 6.75 times bigger than a regular version, Ilhan explained why he built it: "The Game Boy was a huge part of many people's childhoods, including my own. I was obsessed with my Game Boy as a kid, so I wanted to create something that would put a smile on little Ilhan's face, and hopefully on the face of anyone who is a big kid at heart."
Meanwhile the smallest Game Boy, made by Dutch gamer Jeroen Domburg is measured in Shanghai, China. Coming in at 54 mm (2.12 in) long, the miniature console fits on a key chain, and can play a selection of original Game Boy games.
2017 (3 March 2017)
The latest descendant of the Game Boy, the Nintendo Switch, is released. The Switch unites Nintendo's home and handheld-console heritage, letting gamers play on the go or on the TV.
Find out about more record-breaking videogames and gamers in our records showcase.