Games that defined…The GameBoy

8 August, 2012 - 3:58 pm by

Next up we take a look at Nintendo’s Handheld – The GameBoy. Unlike other competitor handhelds, Nintendo managed to carve new games that cannot be played on a big TV. Its closest rival was the Game Gear by SEGA but that was ultimately a portable Master System. The GameBoy name would only be succeeded by one console – the Nintendo DS some 15 years after it launched. But let’s take a look at what it managed to produce.

Tetris is the game that sold the Nintendo console. Yes, it appeared on the NES and countless versions after the GameBoy release but the Russian puzzle game went stratospheric when it was made portable. It rescued single handily the console when it was launched in 1989.

The puzzle game was simple enough – make a row of blocks using various shapes that are made up of four blocks and that row would disappear and give points. The game got faster the further you got into it. As mentioned it has gone through various changes as the years have gone by but the core game remains the same.

Tetris defined the GameBoy by bringing addictive puzzling to the masses, it being one a portable system meant that it could be played anywhere, which was a novel experience in the late 1980s. The game was simplistic but with a catchy tune and top scores to be beaten, it was played throughout the early 1990s.

Pokémon, or Pocket Monsters in Japan came at a time where Nintendo were considering retiring the GameBoy. The pull of Tetris had all but warn out and sales were non-existent. To revive the market Pokémon was introduced to a new wave of children who just had to collect them all.

This was a game that was a worldwide phenomenon and continues to sell massively today. The Role Playing game originally let players catch, train and battle 150 monsters, but to get them all you had to trade with your friends. Two versions of the same game were released and some of the little critters only appear on one version.

Pokémon defined the GameBoy, as it was a game children could play in the playground with each other. For everyone to fully complete the game, both the Red and Blue (Green in Japan) versions were needed. Players could battle as well as trade with others by using the link cable. With 150 Pokémon to collect it kept players interested for a long time to come.

While the GameBoy had two massive hits on its hands during its lifetime, other games helped keep the handheld going and also gave the world some memorable titles including:

  • Wave Race started life on the handheld way before the N64 and GameCube versions. Wave Race was an alternative to all of the racing games that were saturating the home consoles. This took away the need of a track and placed players on the water. There were two modes of play – Race and Slalom and made use of the under-used link cable so friends could battle one and other.
  • Warioland: Super Mario Land 3 was the first game to release Mario’s other rival, Wario. This game gave birth to Nintendo’s answer to Dick Dastardly and the only aim of the game was to earn as much money as possible. Wario has gone on to star in his own standalone games and appear as a playable character in Nintendo spin off games.