Why I Love The Game Boy
It’s the year 2012 and I’m still playing video games on technology released back in 1989, the Nintendo Game Boy. How come, you might ask? Let me try to explain.
I’m not sure why Nintendo chose to make the Game Boy a region-free system, but I’m glad they did. What this means is that you can pick up a Game Boy game anywhere in the world, and it’ll still work in any Game Boy console. Great if you want a particular game that was never released in the region where you live, or you just want to get your games in a specific language. In this regard, the Game Boy is brilliant and something I’m sad to see Nintendo back-pedal on with newer systems like the DSi and the 3DS.
Lots of really good games
No console is great just by having good specifications, it needs to have a healthy library of games! With at least 813 different titles to choose from (according to Wikipedia at least), you won’t run out of a new game to play for quite a while. And let’s not forget the brilliant titles Nintendo themselves made for the system, including the Super Mario Land series, Wario Land series, Legend of Zelda and Pokémon.
Naturally, there are a ton of underappreciated titles, even among those released by Nintendo, but that alone is enough material for several other articles.
After a little while, I started really liking the distinctive sound of the Game Boy, much like I enjoy listening to the sounds of the NES/Famicom and the Commodore 64. But unlike those two systems, the Game Boy can play in stereo, for maximum awesome. Not without plugging in some headphones though, as the device is only equipped with a single speaker in the bottom right corner. But the tunes coming out of the system are just wonderfully unique and has a really nice sound to it.
Also worth noting is the very interesting and quite capable program LSDJ, which allows you to create your own music on the Game Boy, and not just play it.
As far as portable games machines go, I stand by my statement that the original Game Boy is one of the most comfortable machines to hold for nearly any amount of time. It has a wonderful thickness I often find myself missing when playing on newer devices. The Game Boy also has some very nicely rounded edges, that make it a joy to hold. Its weight and feel make it a solid and sturdy piece of kit, something I haven’t really met in the newer consoles, or at least not to the same degree.
One caveat is that is is a bit on the heavy side with those 4 AA batteries in the bottom. Perhaps not for those who have weak arms or have not become parents yet. (after lifting your infant for a while, you start developing arms like Popeye)
Not expensive, really
You can pick up a Game Boy in pretty good shape for very little money, and the same can be said for the games. There are a lot of them out there on ebay and such, so your piggy bank won’t get too skinny if you want some good games for the system. Even some of the top titles for the Game Boy won’t dig holes in your wallet. Not quite the low prices of modern smartphone games, but I find the Game Boy games to last longer.
Sure, you could go hunting the rare specimens in the Game Boy ecosystem but then we’re moving away from just playing good and fun games.
An impressive battery life
Compared to pretty much any other portable games system with exchangable game cartridges, the original Game Boy system has an insane battery life. With the advent of affordable rechargable batteries, my Game Boy just keeps going and going and going. I don’t even remember the last time I had to take the batteries out and give them a good charging. Considering that I frequently play games and crank up the volume quite a bit, I find this very impressive. When going travelling, the Game Boy will easily beat any other system when it comes to keeping you entertained the longest.
Multiplayer is local
While I think it’s fine and dandy to have friends all over the world and interact with them effortlessly over the Internet, there is something special about being in the same room as the other person. Since a physical linking of two Game Boy devices via a cable is the only way to do multiplayer (that I know of, at least), you have that nice real life interaction with another human being. To be able to laugh, talk and even push the other person when they are doing too well in a game. Things that go lost when we sit alone in our rooms and have friends hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers away.
Just games, no distractions
And above all, the reason that makes me love the Game Boy the most is that it’s a system designed only for playing games and nothing more. There are no notifications about incoming e-mail, no pop-ups about SMS or chat requests and I don’t have to worry about getting connected to the WiFi or mobile phone network. It’s just about the games and it’s wonderful.