An E-Waste Retrospective: Episode 2
Next up in our weekly nod to the forgotten gems of e-waste…
...GAME BOY COLOR (1998)The success of the Game Boy following its 1989 release launched a mobile gaming revolution. It’s popularity was so broad, that at a 1994 press conference when asked about a color version, Nintendo stated they were actually holding off developing one because sales for the original model were so strong.
By 1997, Game Boy sold a little over 64 million units worldwide.
Then in 1998, Nintendo finally released Game Boy Color. Featuring a color screen (not backlit) and custom processor, the new handheld came in five different, original colors (represented in the logo) including Berry, Grape, Kiwi, Dandelion and Teal. Shortly after, Nintendo released Atomic Purple, a transparent plastic version, which was later used on a special edition Nintendo 64 controller.
However, the real bright idea from Nintendo was designing the new handheld to be backward compatible with the original Game Boy library. This allowed Game Boy Color to hit the ground running with a large selection of games already in the market.
For dozens of popular Game Boy titles, the Game Boy Color had an enhanced palette built in, featuring up to 16 colors. If the system didn’t have a palette stored for a game, it defaulted to a palette of green, blue, salmon, black, and white. Interestingly, games designed specifically for Game Boy Color were all housed in clear-colored cartridges.
Meanwhile, competition in the US slowed when Sega discontinued its Game Gear Color the year prior. Game Boy Color was discontinued in 2003, but not until it and its predecessor racked up 119 million units sold, making it the third best selling system of all time, and second-highest selling handheld.
BONUS E-WASTE: GAME BOY CAMERA (1998)
A pioneer in cheap digital cameras, the Game Boy Camera was released in 1998 as a “light-hearted” device primarily aimed at children in Game Boy’s top selling markets. Only capable of storing low-quality 128x112 pixel black & white images, Game Boy Camera came in five different colors including blue, green, yellow, red and clear purple.
In 1999, the Game Boy Camera had its moment in the sun when recognized in the Guiness Books of World Records for “world’s smallest digital camera.” Nevertheless, its record has since been broken.