Friday, June 26, 2009

Death of an age

For ages there was one constant in gaming: Nintendo's hand-held systems were backwards compatible.  The Gameboys were always able to play the games that went all the way back to their roots.  

The original Gameboy was like some sort of gaming demigod.  It was, and as far as I know still is, the single most successful hand-held game system ever made.  With it's green and black screen, huge size and 8-bit processor it dominated the market of hand-held gaming.  The basic Gameboy evolved over the ages.  We saw the Gameboy, Play it Loud Gameboy, Gameboy Pocket, Gameboy Lite and Gameboy color.

When the Gameboy Advance came out, it was a quantum leap.  Jumping from 8-bit to 16-bit meant the games could now be equivalent to Super Nintendo games in graphical prowess.  The cartridges for the Gameboy Advance were shorter than the original Gameboy's cartridges but had the same shape at the connector end.  Because of this, the old cartridges could fit in the same slot.  Nintendo included the original Gameboy's processor aswell as the new 16-bit processor so that the player could enjoy the entire library of original Gameboy games on the new system.

The Next step in the Gameboy's evolutionary cycle was the Gameboy Advance SP.  The SP featured a much slimmer size and a clam-shell design.  It also featured a much needed improvement to the Advance's backlight.  The SP was, by most players opinion, the ultimate iteration of the Gameboy.  The pinnacle.  It was the best of all worlds.  It could play the old games, it was small enough to fit in your pocket without being conspicuous, it could play the new games and it had a well lit color screen of ample size.  Truly a masterpiece of hand-held gaming design...and the last of its kind.

The next Nintendo hand-held was called the Nintendo DS.  (note: its not called a Gameboy)  The DS boasted 32-bit processing and dual screens, one of which was a touch screen.  It did have a port for Advance games was would not play original or color Gameboy games.  This was the first step in the Gameboy's death.  The next system to carry the Gameboy name was the Gameboy Advance Micro.  It was designed to appeal to the hip crowd and looked like a candy bar cell phone.  It was indeed "Micro" and looked like a smaller version of an original NES controller but with a screen in the middle.  It was only able to play Advance games though.  

The Gameboy SP was the last of an age.  For a retro gamer like myself it was a sad day when I realized that I could no longer buy a "new" system to play my old games on the go.

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