Gadgets of days gone by: The Game Boy

This week at CrunchGear, we’re looking back at some of our favorite gadgets from the not-so-distant past — old phones, computers, media players, toys… those devices that still stand out in our memories despite their obsolescence. Feel free to contribute some of your own nostalgia.

My Grandma Sadie bought me my Nintendo Game Boy in the summer of 1990 at Deluxe Novelty on Hanover Street in Martins Ferry, Ohio. I was fifteen and I spent most of those summer months playing the NES and watching TV. Those, my friends, were the days.

If there’s one thing I want you youngsters to take away from this series, if that’s at all possible, understand that technology appears around us as if by magic. Considering that the closest our generation got to handheld gaming was the Game and Watch gaming watch in the 1980s and a Mattel Football game, when the Game Boy appeared on the scene things changed completely. Up until 1989, handheld gaming displays were amazingly simple. After 1989, they were amazingly complex.

The original Game Boy came with Tetris and I know we bought Super Mario World. This was just on the cusp of a period in my life when gaming fell by the wayside for a little while. I played the Game Boy with my buddy Rick for a year or so and then we got into cars and music and – very tangentially and without actual contact – girls. The game was black and white – black and green, actually. It used four AA batteries and took outsized, strangely grotesque cartridges.

But it was a sign of things to come. Gaming was taking off and portable gaming was about to change completely with a number of handheld devices – including multiple iterations of the Game Boy. I think it was the first time that innovations – I mean real, hard-core innovations – came at a blinding pace. Imagine going from the Game Boy in 1990 to the PS2 in 1999 – and you understand how quickly things changed. In the interim came Super Nintendo and N64, stepping stones on the endless path towards irrepressible technological advance.