Game Boy Color is 20 years old

Oct 25, 2017

October 21, 1998. The Game Boy Color hits Japanese stores, finally thrusting the world's most popular handheld out of its monochromatic prison. Others tried making portables capable of color, but none could scratch the success of Nintendo's tiny juggernaut.

Though it had a very short life (late 1998 to mid 2001, discontinued in 2003), there's a tremendous amount of nostalgia surrounding this piece of hardware. The different hardware variants, the vibrant color pallets, games that stand as the best in the GB's library... you'd be hard-pressed to find someone disappointed with it. Backlight? Didn't need it. It would've been almost too good, thus dooming the gaming industry as no one else would want to play something different.

Famitsu has a two piece feature on their website. The first details twenty GBC facts. HERE THEY ARE:

1. The GBC's early catchphrases were "With color, every day is fun." and "Joyful with color."
2. Clear purple was the most popular launch color, and Yamauchi was the one who proposed that design.
3. Capable of 32,000 colors with 56 displayed at a single time
4. It was the first portable gaming machine with a strap hole
5. You could play original monochrome GB games in color
6. The GBC was almost the same size as the original Game Boy but significantly lighter. Famitsu notes that perhaps GBC perfected the perfect handheld size, as the new iPhone XS is almost the same width and length as the GBC.
7. It has the second longest battery life of the GB family at 20 hours (the original fat Game Boy having the longest with 35 hours, but double the batteries)
8. It had online capabilities with the Mobile Adapter GB, allowing you to play with people far away
9. There were many special editions such as the Sakura Taisen pink version, one celebrating supermarket Jusco's anniversary, and several limited edition versions only available at Pokemon Centers
10. Along with the GBC launching in 1998, the GB Pocket Camera, Pocket Pikachu, Game Boy Light, Neo Geo Pocket, and Dreamcast were all available in the same time frame.
11. GBC carts had either a transparent casing or a black one. The dent for special GBC games was removed so people would be discouraged from putting it into a monochrome GB.
12. While Game Boy carts came in a hard plastic case inside the box, GBC games came in a plastic bag.
13. Two games were never sold in stores (in Japan): Super Mario Bros. Deluxe and Balloon Fight GB. You could only get these games by downloading them via a flash memory GB cart. Balloon Fight GB is available on the 3DS eShop.
14. The first Sega game to release on Nintendo hardware was Sakura Taisen GB in 2000
15. Games with that used the GBC's infrared signal feature such as Phantom Zona and SMT Devil Children could use TV remotes or even air conditioners to interact with the game
16. Dragon Quest Monsters for GBC was released a few weeks before the hardware.
17. The first GBC exclusive game was Top Gear Pocket release in April, 1999. For first party titles, it was Mario Golf in August, 1999.
18. The most expensive GBC game was Mario Family, a Japan exclusive title that connected your GBC to a sewing machine to make Mario patterns. This is a real game.

19. The last GBC game was Doraemon's Study Boy in July 2003. The last first party title was Mobile Golf in 2001.
20. The highest rated game in Famitsu was Mystery Dungeon GB2 with a 38, the lowest was All Japan Shonen Football Tournament with 14 points.

The second Famitsu article talks about sales. Here are the top 10 best selling GBC exclusive games in Japan:

1. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters 4: Battle of the Great Duelists (sold over 2.2 million copies in Japan what the...)
2. Pokemon Crystal
3. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Ages
4. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters III: Tri-Holy God Advent (what a title)
5. Dragon Quest III (""""exclusive"""")
6. Kirby's Tilt N' Tumble
7. Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite (second JPN Hamataro game)
8. Mario Tennis
9. Hamtaro: Daisakusen Dechu (first Hamtaro game, JPN only)
10. Wario Land 3

I got a GBC for my birthday in 1999 and GBA at launch, so I only played my GBC for about two years. However, I have a countless fond memories, there were so many games I loved on it and going from monochrome to color was mindblowing as a kid. Team Kiwi for life (ironically Japan did not get this color EVER). The GBC Zelda games maybe have my favorite sprite work of all time.

Share your GBC memories/thoughts.

Oct 27, 2017
First gaming console for me in any capacity. My dad bought one (classic blue color) for me and my sister with the Deluxe Pokemon Yellow version with the Strategy Guide and he very quickly realized that one gameboy for two children does not work well. So he promptly got a second. Me being younger than my sister didn't realize that the second one my dad got was the see-through purple version so my sister got that. Definitely was a bit salty at the beginning but I learned to love mine in time.

Lot's of great nostalgic memories of long car rides while playing Pokemon in the back seat.
Oct 27, 2017
Northern Ontario
Way to make me feel old, OP.

When this came out, I rented one from Blockbuster with two games: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX and Conker. I played both for hours on end, but focused mostly on Zelda and really liked it.

Then, for Christmas, my parents got me the lime green system, Zelda and Mario Golf. They also got me a great carrying case and I eventually got a battery pack. It was great. I took the thing everywhere with me, and played the hell out of it. So many hours were lost to Mario Golf, and Zelda, but I got stuck and never did finish it. One dungeon I got lost in ended up being my undoing. I'd go back to it now but I'd be very lost, so maybe I'll try to restart it one day.

Mario Golf was really good. Mario Tennis was just as good if not better, too, and my friend and I played that for hours. The series peaked there. Honestly, though, I had lots of games and played them all a lot. I still have the carts in my black carrying case. Except for Mario Golf, which completely disappeared :(

It was a great system.
Oct 25, 2017
The color capabilities of the GBC has always confused me since on paper it should be exponentially more colorful than the NES with its 32k palette and 56 onscreen colors. There are a few instances where it does look like it lives up to that, but in most practical scenarios it actually comes across as barely even being able to keep up with the NES (aside from having a larger master palette). Does it have to do with sprites and color groups?

Both Master System and Game Gear have worse specs than GBC in both palette and onscreen colors but there's no question both of them look way better than GBC.
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Oct 28, 2017
Geez, 20 years?! Got mine at or just after launch.

Only had two specific GBC games for it though, during it’s lifespan:

Super Mario Bros. Deluxe
Metal Gear Solid

MGS was just fucking awesome. I mostly used it to play regular Game Boy games ha.

I did pick up more games for it later on, like:
Dragon Warrior I and II, Donkey Kong Country, both Zeldas, WWF Betrayal, Zelda DX, Mario Tennis and Resident Evil Gaiden.

I thought the lineup was rather underwhelming.


Oct 27, 2017
Still my favourite handheld. Great battery life and a great form factor. The lack of a backlit screen doesn't bother me either as it has good visibility anyway for the places I'd use it like on the train.

Love Picross and Mario Golf
Jun 18, 2018
Purple translucent is where it was at. And Pokemon Blue. I had the original Gameboy, but this is my favorite handheld.
Oct 27, 2017
A Nintendo console with least first party support. Still I had about 40 GBC exclusive games, including all Dragon Quest games. This was the console that introduced me to DQ universe.
Oct 27, 2017
I unintentionally skipped this generation. My sisters had an original DMG so I played that for many years. And I wasn’t really interested in the Color games. It wasn’t until GBA was announced that I thought it was time to make the jump to a new platform.

But I’m thinking about playing the games I missed during this era, I’m currently playing LADX.
Jul 30, 2018
United States
I’m only 23 but I have such good memories with this. My brother had a purple and I had a yellow. Pokémon Gold was my jam for years.

I still have both of them and it’s weird going back to play it (every couple months, can’t believe they still work!) because it’s so small to me now. I remember it being the size of a DVD case when I was a kid.
Oct 27, 2017
when those took off (thanks to pokemon, i guess) i was beginning to think game boy would never die

though i guess you could argue GBC was more or less a completely new system.
I ended up with a Gameboy Colour by accident. I was in EB (before it became GAME), buying a preowned original grey Gameboy bundled with Pokemon Blue for like £30, but the shop assistant dropped and broke it. He instead gave me a purple Gameboy Colour for the same price. It wasn't to last long though as I got a Gameboy Advance maybe a year or so later.
Oct 30, 2017
This was the first console that I owned. I got it for my Christmas along with Pokémon Blue, Donkey Kong and Tetris. Must've been 2000 when I got it because I bought Pokémon Yellow and Silver the following Summer. I had some good times with that console, mostly spent playing Pokémon. Hard to believe that was almost 20 years ago.
Oct 27, 2017
Northern Ontario
This was one of the best things I ever owned and one of the things I got the most use out of. It was a great present.

Looking back, I don't know if I would've chosen green, but I certainly didn't dislike it. I think I like the red colour a bit better, but green was better than blue and yellow for sure.


Oct 28, 2017
Damn, first time I've felt old. It was pretty much a Pokémon machine to me, I handed it down to a cousin who became even more obsessed with Pokémon than I was. Other than having to constantly nag at my parents for batteries it was perfect.


Oct 26, 2017
I don’t really remember the GBC, probably because of its short lifespan. I must have had one, I was 9 or 10 when it launched which I imagine was exactly the target age. I don’t remember actually playing it though. I remember my GBP. My GBA. But the GBC is sort of lost in the haze. I don’t even remember which color I had. I’m questioning myself now... did I have one? Or is my memory of playing Gameboy games in color solely due to the gameboy player on SNES?

Regardless, this thread reminds me of how monstrous Nintendo’s handheld libraries have been. They’re juggernauts.
Oct 25, 2017
Remember when I got mine back in fall of 2000 with Pokemon Red. My first game session was so long that my fingers started to hurt and were hot red lol.
Oct 28, 2017
I got a purple one and Pokémon Blue for Christmas in 1998. Absolutely amazing at the time.

Warlocked was also awesome. Great little system for the time.
Oct 27, 2017
My second Gameboy. I had the purple one. I vividly remember how cool it was seeing Super Mario Bros. Deluxe in color at the kiosks in EB Games and Toys R Us and such.

Oct 27, 2017
Athens, Greece
First game boy I bought. Couldn't extract its potential though. Couldn't find most of the games I wanted like Links Awakening DX or SMB deluxe in local market, at least played dozens of hours Yellow and Crystal.
Oct 25, 2017
Still have mine and still works like a charm. Mostly played Pokémon on it but still had quite a few games for the system laying around.
Oct 25, 2017
I was on a flight this week and a kid lost his DS. The flight attendant referred to it as a Gameboy when making the announcement. That just shows how much of an impact this thing had
Oct 27, 2017
I got a GBC in '98. It had its moments but it ended up being my least played Nintendo portable (post Game & Watch). By 1998 I expected more in terms of technology, even from Nintendo. A lot of the games looked half-colourized. There was a huge amount of shovelware to sift through and it just ended up with a smaller number of exclusive great games than other Nintendo portables. I enjoyed Bionic Commando: Elite Forces, Montezuma's Return, Metal Gear Solid, Wario Land 3, and probably a few more games I'm likely forgetting. I was disappointed in the Capcom Zelda games; they just didn't do it for me like Link's Awakening. I guess for the younger generation of Pokemon-loving kids, the GBC would have been amazing but for me it was just a decent appetizer before the proper GB successor arrived with the GBA.
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