Nintendo’s Game Boy turns 30 years old today

Nintendo’s Game Boy turns 30 years old today


Released in Japan by Nintendo on April 21st 1989, the Gameboy was the company’s first handheld games console and became an instant classic.

Nintendo had been manufacturing Game & Watch handheld devices for years before they introduced their first portable games console proper.

As Nintendo and SEGA pitted their products, against each other during the fabled console wars of the late eighties/early nineties, Gameboy struck first blood by releasing their handheld in Japan more than a year ahead of SEGA’s Game Gear. 

Game Boy was released on April 21st 1989 in Japan, July 31st in North America and the following year, in September in Europe.


Nintendo GameBoy Ad


Technically many would argue that SEGA’s device provided a far superior gaming experience. It boasted a backlit colour screen and 8-Bit graphics that compared to those found on the Master System. Where the Game Gear failed dramatically was in battery life. That colour display and processing power left gamers out of pocket in battery costs. Or worse, having to plug-in to play, negating the appeal of a portable device.

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Gameboy crushed the Game Gear in terms of battery life. Four AA batteries could potentially provide up to 15 hours of play. Nintendo’s console provided gamers with a much less battery intensive grayscale display and dialled back specs. This was a truly portable device that could handle a long car ride or flight. But, with no in-built backlight and without an additional peripheral, there were limitations in dark conditions.

The company compensated with some truly fantastic games in an extensive library of titles. Super Mario Land was available upon launch in Japan, but for North America and Europe a game called Tetris would dominate and go on to epitomise the Gameboy, selling over 30 million copies.

Gameboy sold for ¥10242.07 upon launch in Japan, $89.95 in the U.S. and £69.99 in the U.K.

Happy 30th Gameboy!



Will Harrison

About the author | Will Harrison

Founder of The Unheard Nerd. A husband and father of two girls, Will is a fan of Nerdcore Hip-Hop, a comics fiend, a podcast host and champion of independent nerd culture. | Follow will on twitter: @TheUnheardNerd

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