The Nintendo Game Boy turned 25 recently, and you've probably read a post or two about that fact by now. You might have seen tweets or Facebook posts showing off pictures of a Game Boy system along with an anecdote of a fond memory. Maybe even some posts about the top 17 games for the system, or more on the system’s history. This post will be just a little bit different, and here's why: I didn't own an original Game Boy until just a few years ago.  

Let me set the stage for you. The year is 1989, and a nine year old Fuzzless wonder is deep into Nintendo...

Little Fuzzy is constantly playing NES, constantly thumbing through Nintendo Power magazines, even using his Dad's camera to take pictures of the TV screen when he completes a game (not even to send into Nintendo Power, but more for documentation purposes). The new Nintendo hand held system is on the horizon: The Nintendo Game Boy. It's on TV, it's in the magazine, and kids at school are PUMPED for this thing. (Stage set? Good! Back to first person!)

One issue is that the Game Boy was released in July in the US and normally I never got any big things until Christmas. I asked for a Game Boy, did my best to showcase it's strengths, it's value and how it would better me as a person. At the end of my 45 minute presentation I was told to ask Santa, to which I responded by suggesting to my mother that maybe she should try to be less patronizing.
My white whale
Christmas of 1989 I found Tetris for the NES under the tree, when I was hoping to find the Game Boy version with...you know...a Game Boy in the box. Months later when I would try to make sense of my life, and put myself back together I looked at my parents with such pain in my eyes that just said "WHY????" Apparently I played too many video games, and they didn't want to see me sucked into more games while I wasn't sitting in front of a TV. "Plus you already have that other portable video game" my mother said pointing dismissively at my Tiger Electronics Ninja Gaiden torture device. I couldn't even speak. My mouth dropped open and no sound came out, I just looked back at Ninja Gaiden, and then at her in complete disbelief. Did that just happen? Did she just suggest that this $20 waste of a circuit board was even remotely on the same level as a Game Boy?
My "Game Boy" -Image found on eBay
Shortly after the great Game Boy/Tiger Electronics conflict of 1990 we had moved from Ohio to California. This was a drive that had taken the span of 5 days (Dad doing the driving for 8 or so hours a day, motel stays at night), which would have been somewhat bearable by my 10 year old self had I been armed with a Game Boy in the back seat with our 2 cats. Luckily I had my Tiger Electronics Ninja Gaiden game! I opted to look out the window for 5 days instead. As the years went on I never happened upon a Game Boy and when I was finally making my own money (from a paper route) I put it towards Nintendo's newest wonder: The Super Nintendo. The Game Boy became less and less of a priority and more of a sense of nostalgia.

It's weird to have nostalgia for something I didn't own as a kid. I lusted over that Game Boy. I played demo units, I played with Game Boys that belonged to my friends, and I kept reading about it in every magazine (it seemed). I drooled over that box, even as a kid I had a thing for box art and this thing was from the future: the Tron-like grid in the background, everything had some futuristic light flowing through it, and even the hands holding the Game Boy on the front of the box looked like they could belong to some futuristic robot-human-hybrid-future-being. Honestly I think to this day the original Game Boy might still showcase my favorite Nintendo system box art of all time.
Spoilers. I own a couple of Game Boy systems today.
Finally 10 years after its initial release when I was making some serious grocery store cash I decided it was finally my time. There was a new Game Boy in town that not only had a color screen but the system itself came in different colors as well. One happy coincidence of my timing to buy a Game Boy Color was that it was the same year that the first video game I
My first Game Boy, and first game. Together again
ever played, Shamus,  was released for it. It may not have been my actual first video game, but Shamus is definitely my first memory of gaming back on our Atari 400. So maybe it was providence that the year I was finally able to welcome Nintendo’s portable into my life, that it would also bring the first game I ever played back into my life as well.

While I was beyond happy with the Game Boy Color I still really wanted to get an original system. These new Colors were slim and beautiful, but there was a certain kind of utilitarian beauty in the original system and if nothing else I knew I would get one just to put on display. It would take another 10 years before I stumbled across the original Game Boy system that I would call my own at a local Goodwill. I’ve since spent some time adding to my small Game Boy collection from when I first bought the Color, and I have also had the pleasure of spending a little bit of time with the Game Boy Camera and the Printer. This is something I desperately needed in my life during childhood (much like the movie Clue which I didn’t see until I was an adult) and while I’m not exactly reliving my own childhood memories by owning one, I am reliving my dreams I had of having one when I was younger.
The camera is neat, the printer is awful. Prints using heat transfer, and most paper made for the printer is expired today and you will not get great results. One option to use (that I have tried) is the same receipt tape used in taxis, the rolls are huge but you will get a decent print out of it initially. It fades quickly though.
Now that you have a window into some of the insanity I have been plagued with for most of my life, I am going to put this Game Boy away and play those same Game Boy games on my 3DS XL thanks to Nintendo’s Virtual Console service.
Images taken with the Game Boy camera look alright on screen.


  1. Nice read Fuzzy!

    I super lucked out with getting my gameboy. I had a NES and a few games. There was no way my parents were ever buying me a gameboy. We were at a christmas party for my dad's old job and there were door prizes and yup one was a gameboy with tetris... Yeah... We didn't win it, we won a stereo HAHA. I was talking up the gameboy all night and super bummed when we didn't get it. My dad went and talked to the guy who won it and he agreed to trade it for the stereo! He was in the market for one and didn't have any kids so he was pretty uninterested in the gameboy. I played the shit out of tetris (C-type music ftw). Other memorable games for me were Kirby's Dreamland and Fall of the Footclan.

    I held onto that for years. Like most systems I never ended up owning more than a handful of games. When I later got my LOVELY BACKWARDS COMPATIBLE GBA I gave the gameboy to my tetris loving aunt (who had played it on my gameboy every time I stayed at my grandparents growing up haha). Now I currently have a GBA SP and a 3DSXL and I just love that I can play any handheld nintendo game ever. Always keeping and eye out for cheap-o GB games I never had but wanted as a kid. Ghostbusters 2 is pretty rad haha.

    1. Thanks for sharing some of your experience Nik! Kirby's Dreamland was actually one of the first Game Boy games I played through the Virtual Console service and I really liked it. I missed out on so many games, and what was great was they weren't ports from NES versions (for the most part) but entirely new adventures and stories to play. Now I have to decide if I want that experience on my XL, through a GBA, or on the original system.

      I never knew there were old Ghostbusters games! I will have to look into that! Thanks Nik!

  2. I love this post because it's a mini memoir that captures an innocent age. I long for the summer of '89. You've brought it back, brother. Thank you.