The Game Boy was the most dominant product line in the history of video games. Each iteration of Game Boy has been confronted by several competitors, often with superior technical abilities. Yet every time, Nintendo has been a winner. This week marks three consecutive years of supremacy of pocket games since Kyoto.
How did Nintendo do it?
In the last 30 years, it's pretty much the same thing. Nintendo has always competed with its competition: price, simplicity and quality of its games. Take the Atari Lynx. Published only a few months after the Game Boy, he was technically superior in almost every respect. Its backlit color screen was based on a 16-bit architecture, which made launch titles such as Blue lightning looks impressive even next to the consoles of the day. But at $ 179.99, the Lynx costs almost double the Game Boy, and the games just were not there.
Two other major competitors of the Game Boy in terms of color screens appeared the following year. Sega's $ 149.99 8-bit gaming machine was slightly more affordable than the Lynx and it had at least had big names like Sonic the hedgehog on board, but he was notorious for his short battery, which was a big problem at the time when he needed to buy AA spare parts. NEC's TurboExpress, meanwhile, was a technically impressive portable version of the TurboGrafx-16, but its high price of $ 249.99 and the niche status of its motherboard meant it would never be a major player.
With its first competitors almost defeated, Nintendo strengthened its grip on the market in 1996 with the release of the Game Boy Pocket. To date, this is one of the most dramatic "thin" console revisions of all time, and the Pocket has thrown a huge amount of the original Game Boy's mass and removed its famous green screen on green. The size of the Pocket's screen was the same, but its refresh rate was faster and its grayscale appearance much more appealing. The system also worked with only two AAA batteries, compared to the original AA batteries.
The Pocket has not changed anything to the Game Boy as a platform. At that time, the system's game library was meant for that, and it was only two years later that Nintendo would do anything to expand its capabilities. The 1998 Game Boy Color was about as powerful as the NES, allowing gaming ports like Color Super Mario Bros. But above all, the color has maintained a complete upward compatibility with the Game Boy, so games like Yellow Pokemon have been able to support the color screen while operating on the tens of millions of existing monochrome systems.
The year 1998 was also marked by the release of Neo Geo Pocket, produced only by SNK in Japan, followed by the following year by Neo Geo Pocket Color, sold worldwide. This is probably the best shot that no one has taken to the Game Boy so far. The hardware was equally strong and affordable, with great battery life and a superb mini-joystick with a micro switch. The software library also contains several impressive titles. Supporters of SNK franchises in combat were particularly well served and the system even hosted a surprisingly good number Sonic the hedgehog years of play before Sega plans to put its IP address on Nintendo platforms.
It would be impossible to compete with the explosion Pokémon This phenomenon, however, and SNK's financial problems forced it to abandon its global activities in 2000 before going bankrupt in Japan the following year. This did not help that in Japan, the NGPC has another serious competitor to handle: the Bandai WonderSwan.
Conceived by Gunpei Yokoi, the designer of the original Game Boy and his predecessor, Game & Watch, WonderSwan is an innovative system that has achieved a respectable level of success in Japan. It was playable in the horizontal and vertical orientations, and Bandai released the original monochrome version at a modest price of 4,800 yen to undermine the color of the Game Boy. A color version followed at the end of 2000 and, although the system managed to outclass SNK and attract major gaming ports like Final Fantasy IV, Bandai was finally held back by the launch in 2001 of Nintendo Game Boy Advance.
With enough power to handle SNES games like Super Mario World, the Game Boy Advance was a predictable success, even though Nintendo did not add light to the screen until the 2003 revision.Castlevania: Circle of the Moon It was one of the best initial versions of the system, but it was difficult to play other than under direct sunlight.) The ACS was following the same game book as the previous Game Boy consoles: it was cheap , the battery had good maintained backward compatibility with the entire Game Boy library. Oh, and Nintendo has created a lot of incredible games for her.
Bandai and SNK have not been able to compete with Nintendo's conditions, so GBA's competitors have taken a different approach. The most powerful Game Boy was still a Game Boy, which meant that she could have been much more capable. Mobile technology was becoming faster and more widespread at the turn of the millennium; It was clear that everyone would soon carry a cell phone, if it had already been done. And the idea of a phone capable of playing advanced mobile games did not seem like a terrible idea – especially for Nokia, which, as the world's largest maker of phones, had seen its system preloaded. Snake game become a minor phenomenon. In 2003, the company launched a PDA-type phone called N-Gage, which ran on Symbian OS and could play the current 3D games with physical cards.
Unfortunately, the N-Gage was a disaster. Despite its technically impressive gaming ports like tomb Raider and Professional skater Tony Hawk, the digital phone style keys were terrible, and Nokia made some bizarre design decisions, for example requiring you to remove the battery to swap the game cards. That was not great as a phone, but : The strange taco – shaped design and the side earphone of the phone have spawned countless meme memes. By the time Nokia released the improved NDGage QD in 2005, the damage had already been done.
Nokia was not the only company to attempt to associate a PDA and a games console. Tapwave, a startup founded by former Palm executives, launched an entertainment PDA, the Zodiac, in 2003. The Zodiac Tapwave operated under Palm OS and had a large 480 x 320 screen designed for video and games, as well as MP3 playback and general PDA. functionality There were gaming ports like Doom II and Madden NFL 2005and, overall, it was a very good camera. But, as was the case with the products adjacent to Palm, the timing of the Zodiac was terrible. This is the best threat that weighs on the dominance of Nintendo.
It is hard to exaggerate how cool the Sony PlayStation Portable was in 2004. The PS2 was by far the most popular gaming console at the time. It was a portable device almost as powerful, offering both a beautiful screen and advanced features. multimedia capabilities. Sony has positioned the PSP as the Walkman of the future – an important step, as its iPod had been completely consumed by its lunch – and even with a high price of $ 249, it was clear that this would be the first real competitor of Nintendo. in the portable gaming space.
That did not help that Nintendo's move in 2004 came out of the left field. The DS, a strange dual-screen system with a stylus and microphone, stood directly against the PSP, and the difference could not have been more striking. His graphics capabilities were closer to the PS1 than the PS2, his media functionality was non-existent and his initial batch of software was extremely experimental. Nintendo struggled to describe the DS as a "third pillar" alongside Game Boy Advance and GameCube, and not as the next step in its lineage of handhelds. She launched the tiny Game Boy Micro in 2005 to support the GBA platform.
You probably know how that turned out. The PSP has worked well, but the DS has become the most powerful system of Nintendo. Innovative titles like Nintendogs and Age of the brain brought people who had never bought a game console before, while the depth and width of the DS Even if the PSP was more powerful, his games were often less suitable for portable games, with ordering diagrams complicated, short battery life and slow charging times due to the UMD optical disk format. The DS, meanwhile, retains the same benefits as the Game Boy range. Previous versions of the DS even featured a slot for GBA games.
That's why the Micro Game Boy was the last Game Boy. In the early days of the DS, many people were waiting for Nintendo to come up with a more traditional and powerful system, able to play GameCube games, and all would be in tune with the world. Instead, the stratospheric success of the DS means that the next Nintendo system, the 3DS, is more or less its direct successor. It was not as big as on the DS, but it was sold very well and crushed comfortably Sony's PS Vita. No one is asking for a new Game Boy these days.
With the switch, of course, all this is with the moot point. Nintendo has even more division dedicated to handhelds and it does not appear that the company will produce more 3DS games. The use by the switch of a mobile hardware powerful enough to have passive air on TV is probably the death knell of the dedicated Nintendo handhelds, even as rumors circulate about a more portable version.
But this change is also why, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Game Boy, we are also commemorating the 30th anniversary of Nintendo, which defines and owns the mobile gaming market. Since the launch of the Game Boy, many have tried to shoot him. But in the end, the only company that could actually kill the Game Boy was Nintendo.