Retro Weekends – The Nintendo Game Boy

Donkey Kong '94

First Contact

Being born about a year before the Game Boy, I was bound to not know about the Game Boy’s existence until a little later in life. Since we’re talking very early into my childhood, my memory is fuzzy as to when and how I first saw a Game Boy. The earliest one I can remember was seeing it in a book detailing tips for current and upcoming games. I honestly cannot remember the name of this book. All I can remember on the cover was that the background was blue on the top, black on the bottom, a white grid overlayed on the black, and a bunch of yellow balls flying toward the reader. If anyone knows the name of this book, comment below. Anyway, this book was found by my father in some crate in the house. Since he knew my sisters and I liked playing the NES, he gave us the book. I flipped through it in awe at all the NES games I’ve never seen before. At some point, the book began detailing Game Boy games, and one screenshot I remember seeing was for Super Mario land and the fight with the sphinx boss. It looked so much different than Super Mario Bros., I wondered how exactly the sphinx was supposed to be defeated. I wanted to know more, but my time would come much later.

Pokemon Blue emulator

From Emulation To Ownership

I finally got to play a bit with the Game Boy from my old childhood friend back then. He had a really cool assortment of games, from the NES, to the SNES, to the Genesis and the Game Boy. I played a little bit of Wario Land (and accidentally and regrettably deleting his save files). I also got to play Link’s Awakening, which really piqued my interest, though not enough to warrant ownership of a Game Boy. I also got to play a bit more of the Game Boy from a couple of friends who lived around the corner from my home. Not sure what I played, but it was most likely Tetris. My interest in getting a Game Boy really dropped when I kept playing my consoles. I remembered the stuff I saw in the aforementioned book. But became uninterested after many years. That is, until Pokemon entered the scene.

Pokemon, being a handheld-only game, had me really wanting a Game Boy right then and there. I was addicted to Pokemon as a kid, getting toys, watching the show, and collecting the cards. I finally got a chance to play Pokemon Blue eventually, but not in a way many people would like. I played it through an emulator my sister’s friend provided on a floppy disk, and man was I hooked. When no one was on the computer — the only one in the house at the time — I powered it on to play some Pokemon Blue. This was my first time playing through an emulator, so stuff like save states was pretty foreign to me. Still, I managed to play the game all the way to the end. However playing through an emulator meant that I would be missing out on one of the most advertised of features: trading Pokemon through a link cable.

Then we caught a lucky break. My sister’s friend was giving away some videogames and systems. Not sure of the reason, but she was doing that. So she gave us two Game Boys, two copies of Tetris, Castlevania: The Adventure, and Super Mario Land. Not sure if it was free, but no one’s wallets were dented. All of this became ours. We played with these Game Boys for a bit, then I remembered something big: This meant that I could play the Pokemon games legit. Since Pokemon Yellow came out at the time, I decided save up my money for that game.

The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Seasons

Now In Color!

While I’ll leave out the full story until the time comes, my ownership of a Game Boy Color didn’t come without a loss. Somehow I ended up get both my Pokemon Yellow and Silver games stolen from me. With Silver, I knew exactly who stole it from me when I saw the play time on his copy. But it was my word against his, and while both of our mothers were friends, they were rough Puerto Ricans ready to defend their children. So I had to bite my tongue until I got home to tell my mother who I was accusing. She understood and since then we instilled a new rule in the house, “Don’t let anyone touch your games unless you’re there. And if you borrow something from me, I borrow something from you.” To this day I personally still live by this rule (how else would I own Onimusha 2!). So off I went to start saving up again for a Pokemon game. I was prepared to get Pokemon Silver again since we only had original Game Boys. Come the holiday season, I gave my mother the money I saved so that she can get Silver for me while I was at school. Of course I would have to wait ’til Christmas to play it, but I didn’t mind. However a big surprise was waiting for me on Christmas Day. My mom went beyond getting me a Pokemon game. She got me Game Boy Color bundled with Pokemon Crystal! I was ecstatic, I couldn’t believe it! And this time around, I hid the thing when visitors came. And if anyone asked to play, I was there as they played (or simply faked an answer to deny their access).

Nyko Worm LightAccessorize My Life!

While owning both the Original Game Boy and Game Boy Color, I managed to get a few accessories along the way. The first was the Link Cable for the GBC… before I got the GBC. I thought that the ports on the GB and GBC were the same, thinking that the “For Game Boy Color” label was a blanket statement and only had that since the GBC was hip and new. Then I got home and tried plugging the cable in, only to have my soul crushed by it not fitting into the GB’s big ass port. But I held on to the cable and put it away.

But then a miracle. One day when doing some house cleaning, the whole family was doing their part. My sister and I decided to tackle a bag of tangled cables and separate them. As we separated and rolled up cables, I noticed a black, nondescript cable. I asked if she knew what this cable was for, and she had no idea. So I looked at the connector part, squinted a bit, and realized that it looked familiar. The other side had the same connector. “Is this a Link Cable?” I put it aside to try out later. When I was done, I got out the original Game Boy and tried plugging it in! “It fits!” I said triumphantly. So I got out the other Game Boy and started transferring my Pokemon from Yellow to Silver (when I still had them).

When I got the GBC, I already had the aforementioned Link Cable for it. One Christmas later after getting my GBC, I also had gotten a Nyko Worm Light and a Power Pak (I can’t remember the exact name. It was by Nyko, bit it wasn’t the Shock n Rock). The Worm Light was great since I could finally play my GBC games in the dark (remember, no back light). The pak though was godsend since it had not only grips, but it’s own interior battery to power the GBC. When the power was low, I just plugged it into the wall with the A/C adapter it came with. No more need for batteries! Or so I thought…

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