Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 10.34.31 AM

Latest Updates

August 20, 2015

2015 August 20: Serpent has been posted to the front page. August 11: It’s a sports-themed double-header featuring NFL Football and Soccer Mania, two completely terrible takes on different forms of football. August 4: A Space Invaders super-episode, featuring the coolest piece of Game Boy programming the system ever saw. July 28: It’s Trump Boy! This game has nothing do do with […]

book-pb-cover

Game Boy World in print

April 11, 2015

I’ve assembled a book compiling the articles on all 1989 Game Boy releases in Japan and the U.S.

042 serpent

Serpent

April 6, 1990

A curious sci-fi reimagining of the game more commonly known as Snake, Taxan’s Serpent takes the venerable arcade classic Blockade and adds special attacks (as well as some sort of galactic war story) to the whole affair.

EPSON MFP image

NFL Football

April 1, 1990

Game Boy’s first American football release, and its first U.S.-only release. Coincidence? Naw. Konami clings to the outer edges of competence by a thread with this one — it’s bare-bones sportsball in the extreme.

penguin-wars-thumb

Penguin Wars

March 30, 1990

A head-to-head competitive dodgeball game featuring cute animals, because why not? This is a two-player port of a single-player arcade game, and also the Penguin-kun Wars series’ sole journey outside Japan.

040 space invaders thumb temp

Space Invaders

March 30, 1990

A bare-bones but admirably faithful rendition of the arcade classic. While Taito made some compromises in order to squeeze the game into the tiny handheld, they did so intelligently, preserving the essence and pacing of the original remarkably well.

trump-boy-temp-box

Trump Boy

March 29, 1990

Where SD Gundam was offensively awful, Trump Boy is merely unremarkable in every way. A quick and dirty compilation of four different real-world card games, it lacks any bells or whistles to speak of. Better than a kick to the teeth, but much less memorable.

thumb-sd-gundam-kunitori

SD Gundam: SD Sengokuden: Kunitori Monogatari

March 24, 1990

Game Boy gets its first strategy game and its first Gundam game… and Kunitori Monogatari is pretty lousy at being either. Rather than depicting a cool Gundam, this is about chubby robot suits in ancient Japan. And the cumbersome strategy interface yields to some absolute rock-bottom barrel-scraping fighting game. Disastrous.

thumb flappy special

Flappy Special

March 23, 1990

Another old-school PC conversion. Another Soukoban variant. DB-Soft and Victor definitely were not on a mission to radically change the way we thinking about Game Boy software with this one, that’s for sure.

penguin-land-thumb

Penguin Land

March 21, 1990

A real rarity: A Sega game on Game Boy. Pony Canyon converted a computer port of an old Sega arcade game to Game Boy. Sneaky! A fundamentally good game feels fundamentally flawed on Game Boy, however, due to poor line-of-sight distance that makes the action unreasonably hard, and a distracting screen-scrolling pause effect.

thumbnail-flipull

Flipull

March 16, 1990

Game Boy gets a port of Taito’s arcade game Plotting… under a different title for some reason. Popular in Japan and Europe, Flipull only ever came to the U.S. on Game Boy. It’s a tiny little blip in history! A pretty good puzzler… on a platform stuffed to bursting with puzzlers.

quarth-thumb

Quarth

March 16, 1990

A pretty solid port of Konami’s oddball shooter/puzzle arcade hybrid, which boasts some serious creative talent (seriously, it’s like the entire future Treasure team). Although this conversion loses the cooperative play feature, it’s otherwise quite faithful. Not a masterpiece, but an interesting novelty to be sure.

pinbin-bases-loaded

Bases Loaded for Game Boy

March 15, 1990

  Bases Loaded for Game Boy isn’t actually Bases Loaded, although it is for Game Boy. The popularity of the Bases Loaded name in the U.S. evidently prompted Jaleco to rename its Little League sim Baseball Kids, though this portable baseball title is much less progressive than the NES game whose identity it lifted.

thumb-nemesis

Nemesis

February 23, 1990

Fans of Gradius might not recognize the name, but they’ll certainly recognize the style and rules of Nemesis. This vertical shooter set a high bar on the Game Boy thanks to its vivid graphics, excellent music, and incredibly flexible play style. A great game then and now.

taikyoku-renju-thumbnail

Taikyoku Renju

February 23, 1990

Towa Chiki’s games typically fell somewhere between “bad” and “dreadful,” but even they had to do something right on occasion. Taikyoku Renju is a nice little adaptation of the Japanese go variant gomoku renju, and it’s good! It even has an English language option, bizarrely enough. Worth hunting down.

othello-thumbnail

Othello

February 9, 1990

A video adaptation of Pressman’s reversi board game. While Acclaim published the NES game on which this rendition was based in the U.S., the Game Boy release was only ever sold in Japan and Europe (where it was published as a Nintendo first-party title).

solar-striker-thumb

Solar Striker

January 26, 1990

Game Boy’s first vertical shoot-em-up. Simple and clean, Solar Striker may not impress these days, but that’s by design: What seems painfully limited in 2015 made for a highly playable action game on the original Game Boy hardware. Sometimes, smart design and timeless design aren’t one and the same.

heiancover01

Heiankyo Alien

January 14, 1990

The oldest game ever to appear on the original Game Boy, Heiankyo Alien faithfully adapts the classic PC trap-’em-up by the same name as well as introducing a visually overhauled remake with new features and aliens to contend with. Though simple and oddly named, it’s nevertheless a legitimate classic.

world-bowling-thumbnail

World Bowling

January 13, 1990

The first of what would be many bowling-based games by developer Athena, World Bowling for Game Boy was a nice try… but you can tell this is a first draft on low-powered hardware when you hold it alongside later Athena bowlers like Championship Bowling for NES and Virtual Bowling for Virtual Boy.

pinball-party-thumb

Hero Shuugou! Pinball Party

January 12, 1990

An uninspiring Japan-only pinball game whose main claim to fame is that it features some obscure Jaleco characters in extremely minor cameo roles.

026-wizards-warriors-thumb

Wizards & Warriors X: Fortress of Fear

January 1, 1990

The first Western-developed game for Game Boy… and the first Game Boy release never to reach Japan… and the first game of the ’90s! Fortress of Fear had a lot riding on its shoulders, but sadly it proved to be a lackluster companion to the NES Wizards & Warriors games.

1989

– 1989 –

December 31, 1989

An index of all Game Boy releases for the year 1989.

025-karateka-scan

Master Karateka

December 28, 1989

Master Karateka The final Game Boy release for 1989 was also, fittingly, one of the final games released in the 1980s. In many ways, it makes for a neat summary of how games had changed over the course of the decade. Master Karateka offered gamers a conversion of a classic, American-developed 1984 PC action game to Nintendo’s Japanese […]

sword-of-hope-thumb

The Sword of Hope

December 28, 1989

The second RPG ever released for Game Boy was even more unconventional than The Final Fantasy Legend. Square’s game at least adheres to the general structure and format of the console RPG in the post-Dragon Quest era, even if its inner workings were all over the place (trending toward “weird as hell”). But Kemco’s The Sword […]

boomers-adventure-thumb

Boomer’s Adventure in Asmik World

December 27, 1989

The vexing thing about Boomer’s Adventure in Asmik World is that, while it’s a perfectly entertaining action puzzler in its own right, it’s best described in terms of a game that wouldn’t hit the Game Boy until several months later. Kind of like the way some people think Shin Megami Tensei is a big ripoff of […]

q-billion-thumb

Q Billion

December 22, 1989

Nobody loves Seta. In the annals of gaming history, Seta is one of those easily-forgotten little guys. They never published a timeless classic, but neither do any of their games sit perched on some Internet critic’s snarky “worst games ever” list. Their most infamous creation, Bio Force Ape, earned its reputation for nearly never existing. Seta published dozens […]

battleship-box-icon

Battleship

December 22, 1989

  A popular trick among Western video game publishers during the late ’80s and early ’90s in particular was to buy up a popular license — whether for a toy, a film, a TV series, or some other more esoteric media property — and attach it to an existing Japanese game. Given that Japan entered the NES […]

fist-of-the-north-star-thumbnail

Fist of the North Star: 10 Big Brawls for the King of the Universe

December 22, 1989

Here’s what you need to know about Fist of the North Star, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept: It’s based heavily on the Road Warrior/Mad Max movies. And it’s written by a guy who adopted the nom de plume Buronson. Yes, that’s how you write “Bronson” in Japanese. As in, Charles Bronson. In other words, […]

shogi-thumb

Shogi

December 19, 1989

Shogi was the third Game Boy release to revolve around an endemic Japanese pastime, and the third Game Boy release never to see a release in the West. It’s almost like there’s a pattern evolving, or something. As we venture further into the Game Boy’s life, the disparity between Japanese and Western releases will grow considerably; […]

big-thumbnail

The Final Fantasy Legend

December 15, 1989

Kawazu: The man, the myth, the legend Akitoshi Kawazu may be my all-time favorite video game auteur. He’s not your typical Hideo Kojima or David Cage, though — no film-obsessed designer whose predilections revolve around the synthesis of two forms of media. Kawazu’s quirks, his specific flavors of madness, reside purely on the mechanical side of things. He […]

big box

Pachinko Time

December 8, 1989

Pachinko tutorial time I don’t know how much you know about pachinko, but I’m… what’s the furthest thing from an expert? I’m one of those. But let’s pretend. For those not in the know, pachinko is a popular Japanese gambling pastime. Legally, it’s not considered gambling, and any time someone suggests the authorities crack down […]

golf-front-pinbin

Golf

November 28, 1989

The testament of a great game: Even if you don’t care about the subject matter or genre, a player can still appreciate its quality and refinement. So it goes with Golf, a game that revolves around the topic of its very literal title and does so with far more style and panache that its generic name would suggest. […]

kwirk box

Kwirk

November 24, 1989

When you think of Atlus, you obviously think of the Shin Megami Tensei games, or maybe just Persona, or — if you are a righteous and god-fearing human — Etrian Odyssey. But like so many developers, Atlus took a while to find its groove; the studio didn’t simply spring into existence as a world-class RPG-producing powerhouse. […]

lynx-thumbnail

Atari Lynx

November 1, 1989

They say history is written by the winners, and they’re not wrong. But what constitutes winning? Who are the winners? In the case of video game history, the answer generally comes down to who survives — which means that, no matter how you slice it, Atari was probably never a winner; after their first brush […]

malibu-beach-volleyball-icon

Malibu Beach Volleyball

October 31, 1989

Volleyball is one of the worst possible sports you can turn into a video game. That’s probably why there are so few of them; to the best of my reckoning, this is the only one that ever appeared on the original Game Boy. As a sport, volleyball comes in a few different forms: Either the standard […]

castlevania-the-adventure-pinbin

Castlevania: The Adventure

October 27, 1989

Back in the ’80s and early ’90s, no series could sell me on a platform like Castlevania. I loved the NES trilogy, and when early screens of sequels for Game Boy and Super NES began to materialize, those systems shot right to the top of my must-have list. Once I finally got my hands on […]

revenge-of-the-gator-box-pinbin

Revenge of the Gator

October 18, 1989

In the early days of the Game Boy, one of the biggest challenges facing developers was the question of how ambitious to make their games. Portable gaming, new and untested a format as it was, posed a dilemma, especially on the decided limited Game Boy hardware. Should these works aspire to the scope and substance […]

hyper-lode-runner-pinbin

Hyper Lode Runner: The Labyrinth of Doom

September 21, 1989

How circular gaming has become. Over the past couple of decades, portable and PC gaming have essentially existed on opposite ends of the medium’s total spectrum; handheld systems lend themselves to low-power, efficient game design, whereas PC developers typically revel in the format’s raw power, sometimes designing games that demand so much processing muscle that […]

motocross-maniacs-box-pinbin

Motocross Maniacs

September 21, 1989

To be realistic about it, there were only so many ways you could make a racing game in the days before true 3D graphics came around: Top-down, isometric, or fake-scaling pseudo-3D. And when it came to motocross-style motorcycle racing, your options became even more limited; because bike racing leans so heavily on uneven tracks dotted […]

crazy-castle-box-pinbin

The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle

September 5, 1989

Nyeah, what’s up, doc? Released in September 1989 in Japan, The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle stands as the Game Boy’s first licensed release (that is, the first to bear a license from another medium). However, the particulars of its license — or rather, licenses — and chronology of its release variants make a compelling case for […]

boxxle-box-pinbin

Boxxle

September 1, 1989

The classic puzzle game Soukoban has gone by many names here in America as it’s seen release by countless publishers hoping to put a unique face on the same idea (and often the exact same content): Shove It!, Boxy Boy, Sokoban… and those are just the official releases. You don’t even want to know about the clones. […]

shanghai-box-pinbin

Shanghai

July 28, 1989

It took a couple of months, but we finally have the first third-party release for Game Boy… though only just barely. These days, Shanghai publisher HAL Laboratory is more a Nintendo second party studio akin to Intelligent Systems than a true third party, but the company’s relationship with Nintendo was still evolving back in 1989. And […]

tetris-pinbin

Tetris

June 14, 1989

So. Tetris. Has any game ever defined a platform so clearly? Wii Sports, probably. Possibly Halo. But Tetris didn’t merely move systems – though it certainly did that – it established the tone and style of the Game Boy. Until Pokémon came along, Tetris served as the Game Boy’s statement of intent. Game Boy Tetris carries several levels […]

tennis-box-pinbin

Tennis

May 29, 1989

Nintendo is not simply some monolithic entity when it comes to the actual creation of games. There is no slab-like “Nintendo” object that stamps out games on an assembly line. (Also, no: Shigeru Miyamoto doesn’t single-handedly invent every idea to issue forth from the company’s walls.) Through the years, Nintendo’s innards have shuffled around, with teams and larger divisions […]

yokoi

Gunpei Yokoi

April 21, 1989

The father of the Game Boy. Gunpei Yokoi’s design philosophies shaped not only the direction of the Game Boy, but Nintendo’s creative DNA as well.

alleyway-box-pinbin

Alleyway

April 21, 1989

You can see the Game Boy’s roots in the Game & Watch series on clear display in Nintendo’s first generation of releases for the system, and nowhere more than Alleyway. A dated take on the block-breaking genre even at the time of its 1989 debut – the far more sophisticated Arkanoid predates it by a good three years […]

yakuman-1989-box-pinbin

Yakuman

April 21, 1989

When Game Boy launched in Japan, it arrived with four games (each sold separately, of course). Most of them made their way to the West – as did the overwhelming majority of game releases from Game Boy’s first year of existence, for that matter – with one notable exception: Yakuman. Yakuman‘s failure to venture beyond […]

baseball-box-pinbin

Baseball

April 21, 1989

Nintendo didn’t launch the Game Boy in Europe until late 1990 – more than a year after the Japanese and American launches. Unlike with consoles, power standards weren’t the issue behind the delay; Nintendo didn’t have to worry about reprogramming software for PAL/SECAM or dealing with 50Hz vs. 60Hz timing issues, because the Game Boy came with its […]

supermarioland-box-pinbin

Super Mario Land

April 21, 1989

Super Mario Land was the big release for Game Boy’s launch – the can’t-fail hit designed to move systems by the million right as the world was caught in Mario Mania’s peak thrall – and that makes it a fascinating game on several levels. Thank the maker For starters, unlike Game Boy’s other launch titles, there’s no ambiguity about who was […]

gameboy-box

Nintendo Game Boy (DMG-001)

April 21, 1989

Administrative note: Please consider supporting this site through Patreon! The Game Boy Before we talk about the Game Boy hardware, let’s talk about what came before Game Boy. The idea of portable gaming certainly didn’t come into existence from nowhere the day Game Boy launched; various toy companies had been dabbling in the concept since the […]

burgerburger

Burger Burger Pocket

March 26, 1999

quiqui

Qui Qui

March 26, 1999

revelations
pro kiwagame

Pro Mahjong Kiwame GB2

March 19, 1999

miracle-zone-2
shogi-2

Shogi 2

March 19, 1999

ketto-beast-wars
monster-race-2

Monster * Race 2

March 12, 1999

doraemon-kart-2

Doraemon Kart 2

March 12, 1999

koushien

Koushien Pocket

March 12, 1999

atama
Oha Suta Yama-chan Raymond
ou-dorobou-devil
ou-dorobou-angel
b-daman
bugs-bunny-crazy-castle-3
pachinko-data-card
ganbare-goemon-tengu
1998

– 1998 –

December 31, 1998

checkmate

Checkmate

December 31, 1998

frogger-gb

Frogger [Game Boy Color]

December 31, 1998

nada-asatarou
z-kai-reibun