Nintendo has sold over 118 million of its flagship Game Boy and Gameboy Color devices since their release starting in 1989. Despite many technological disadvantages, the Game Boy bested rivals such as Sega's Game Gear and Atari Lynx to become the king of handhelds. What made Nintendo's portable device so successful were the cheaper components that reduced its price and increased battery life, according to a new video from JackTech.
The Atari Lynx featured a backlit color LCD screen, 3D graphics and a slew of games including "Ninja Gaiden," "Double Dragon" and "Rampage." Launched in 1989 at the same time as the Game Boy, the Atari and Nintendo consoles battled for supremacy over the holiday season. What the Game Boy lacked in technology it made up for in titles, price and battery life. The Game Boy retailed for $109 compared to $199 for the Atari Lynx. Launch titles included "Super Mario Land," "Alleyway" and "Tetris." The Game Boy also had a battery life of 30 hours compared to around 15 hours for the Lynx.
The year after competing with the Lynx, the Game Boy faced off with Sega's Game Gear. Sega's portable game device featured "Sonic the Hedgehog" and "Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse." While the Game Gear offered another backlit color screen option, the handheld was more expensive and larger than the Game Boy. The Game Gear had just five hours of battery life, according to JackTech.
As for the actual hardware, the screen and battery section took up the bulk of the room inside the Game Boy. The circuit board that powered the Game Boy consisted of a CPU and eight kilobytes of work RAM and eight kilobytes of video RAM. The CPU was a modified version of a common processor that was first used in the 1970s. Nintendo added a four-channel sound generator and another component to generate game graphics.
While Game Boy's lack of power was pivotal to early adoption, the handheld's extensive game library would solidify its dominance with hits such as the "Pokemon" franchise, "The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening" and"Kirby's Dream Land."
You can watch JackTech's full Game Boy autopsy below.