Thirty years ago today, Nintendo released an iconic handheld system in North America for the first time. It would change the gaming world forever. Its name was Game Boy.
Nintendo’s second handheld system, the Game Boy was something of a cross between its NES home console and its Game & Watch portables. It would see the release of classic games like Tetris and helped spawn the Pokemon phenomenon.
Technically inferior to its rival, the Sega Game Gear, Nintendo’s Game Boy found its success in a strong game library, durability, and perhaps most importantly, a long battery life.
For kids and parents alike, the long battery life set the system apart from the Game Gear, which required six AA batteries and had a battery life of between three to five hours. Unless you had an AC adapter – which tethered you to an outlet, defeating the purpose of a portable device – the Game Gear proved to be an expensive system to play.
The Game Boy, meanwhile, only needed four AA batteries, which lasted as much as six to eight times longer than the Game Gear. It’s this edge – and Nintendo’s strong brand – that powered the Game Boy to massive commercial success.