Nintendo released the original Game Boy in 1988 and although technically inferior to the back-lit and color Sega Game Gear, the Game Boy dominated, and still continues to dominate the market, with nearly 100 million units in circulation. Other pretenders to the throne have come and gone but Nintendo’s little machine has remained strong.
The Game Boy was the first handheld system to have interchangeable cartridges. This was a big advantage as other portables at the time had just one or two games built in. Nintendo and its third parties released a wealth of games covering all genres. Some were outstanding but a lot were horrible. It was pretty hard for developers to create quality
titles when the screen was limited to 4 tones of gray and it was streaky in action games.
In 1994 Nintendo released the Super Game Boy which plugged into the Super Nintendo and allowed gamers to play Game Boy games in color on their televisions. For the first time we were able to play our favorite Game Boy games streak free with color (you could cycle through some pre-set
palettes until you found one that looked best with the game). The game that really showed off the Super Game Boy was Donkey Kong; a 100-level adventure based on the arcade version. This game did a great job of showing off the multicolor effects that the unit could produce, as well as provide a game with solid game play.
With the Game Boy starting to show it’s age Nintendo released an incremental update to its hardware in 1998 called the Game Boy Color. The biggest upgrade was the color screen which game the new games made for it N.E.S. quality graphics and featured a 16-bit color palette. And of course it was fully backward compatible and had the ability to play all existing non-color Game Boy games in a variety of selectable palettes. Other changes were slight upgrades to the processor, video and main memory. With the color capabilities of the system, companies have focused on the system’s ability to reproduce retro video games. Some of the most notable titles were Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, Zelda DX and Tetris DX.