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The year was 1989, computer games were, shall we say, a little less advanced than those of today, and onto the gaming scene came a little grey box that was to take the world by storm. I am not talking of a home console but the handheld ‘Nintendo Gameboy'. The Gameboy is a small rectangular box that is held upright when in use. It has a small screen at the top, an A and B button, control pad plus a start and select button. It also features a screen tone control, a small speaker and a volume control. The systems graphics can, at best, be described as limited, with only ‘black and white' (well more green and yellow really) images that could be displayed. What's more the Gameboy faced the competition of handhelds with considerably better graphics such as the ‘Sega GameGear' and the ‘Atari Lynx'. The future for Nintendo's little creation really didn't look very rosy.
And yet the Gameboy is as popular today as it ever was. Why??? well it did have a few major advantages. Firstly there was the very compact size of the Gameboy when compared to the competition. The Nintendo system also offered a battery life that was far superior to that of others making it perfect for play on the move. However the one major advantage of the Gameboy was a game that was to become legendary......‘Tetris'. Despite being one of the most simple games ever made it was also possibly the most addictive. The basic principle on the game is too line up shapes made of four small blocks that fall from the sky so that a complete line across the screen is formed which then disappears adding to your total score and line total.
These advantages made the Gameboy very, very popular and have led to many more classic games being produced for the system. These include ‘The Legend of Zelda - Links Awakening', a number of ‘Super Mario' games and of late the worldwide craze that has been ‘Pokemon'. Add to this list another 1000+ games and its not hard to see why the Gameboy is still popular today.
Since the release of the Gameboy in ‘89 it has seen 2 major updates. Firstly there was the introduction of the Gameboy Pocket. This was basically a small version of the original, available in several different colours, which offered a slightly larger screen, clearer graphics, a lighter weight and longer battery life. Then, more recently, came the release of the Gameboy colour which not only plays all the old Gameboy games in four colours but also has a growing number of games that play in up to 56, from a palette of thousands, colours at any one time.
There are also a number of add-ons available for the Gameboy that have increased its popularity further till. These range from leads that allow players to hook machines together to engage in two player battles on some games, through lights that are place over the screen and it can even be made into a personal organiser plus many, many more
So then it is not hard to see why the Gameboy is still so popular and why it has now sold over 110,000,000 units in its various guises worldwide. However the Gameboy may not live forever as this year sees the release of its replacement ‘The Gameboy Advanced'. This features considerably better graphics and opportunities for producers to make truley stunning games. Its also had the advantage of playing all the old gameboy games so it might finally be time to put the Gameboy to rest. It will always be a classic games system though
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