The Game Boy is a handheld game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo, released in 1989 at US$89.95. The Game Boy was the predecessor of all other iterations of the Game Boy line. The Game Boy was originally bundled with the puzzle game Tetris. As of March 31, 2006, the Game Boy and Game Boy Color combined has sold 118.7 million units worldwide.
The Game Boy's main controls are located on the lower half of its front frame. Like the NES controller, the Game Boy has four face buttons labelled "A", "B", "SELECT", and "START". The functions of these face buttons vary from game to game, though generally, the START button is used as a "pause" function to temporarily stop gameplay. The Game Boy also features a directional pad, allowing up to eight directions of movement in its games.
Outside of buttons used in gameplay, there is a volume control knob on the right side of the console, and a similar knob to change the contrast on the left side. The ON/OFF switch is located at the top of the Game Boy.
Sales & Competition
As of March 31, 2005, the Game Boy and Game Boy Color combined has sold 32.47 million units in Japan, 44.06 million in the Americas, and 42.16 million in other regions. As of March 31, 2006, the Game Boy and Game Boy Color combined has sold 118.7 million units worldwide.
At the time of its release in 1989, the Atari Lynx was also just being introduced to the market. This system featured color graphics, a backlit screen, and networking capabilities. Nevertheless, its release price of $179, substantial requirement of 6 AA batteries that would provide roughly only four hours of gameplay (compared to 35 hours on 4 AA batteries for the Game Boy), physical bulkiness, and other factors doomed it to a second-rate status.
In 1991, Nintendo experienced heavier competition from Sega's Game Gear. To promote its new, color console, Sega aired a number of negative but unsuccessful ad campaigns in the United States that criticized the Game Boy's monochrome color palette. Like the Lynx, it too required six AA batteries that only lasted about 4-6 hours and was much more expensive than the Game Boy. The Game Gear had the advantage of being fully compatible (with an adapter) with all Sega Master System games and, while not as successful as the Game Boy, it sold from 1991 until early 1997.
Official Nintendo Magazine has praised the Game Boy and its models that follow it as it "got people who enjoyed gaming while sprawled on the couch in their undies to game wherever they liked."