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30th Anniversary of the Game Boy

In 1989, a 220-gram gray box, internally codenamed “Dot Matrix Game,” would be released by Nintendo, and it would take the world by storm.

Marketed as the Game Boy, this device was an 8-Bit handheld gaming system quite unlike anything to come before it. With the 30th anniversary of its release coming up this year, there is no better time than the present to look back on one of my favorite handheld gaming devices ever made.

Chances are, if you grew up during the 90s, you’re familiar with the contents of this life-changing parcel featured above.

Featuring a blazing fast 4.19MHz processor, 4.7 by 4.3-centimeter liquid crystal display, and over 30-hour battery life, the Nintendo Game Boy came ready to rescue many a child from a fiendish long car ride or rainy day. It seems like almost every kid on my block had one of these growing up, and for good reason! It would be impractical to mention all the excellent titles released for this system, but we can look at a few of my lesser known favorites.


Avenging Spirit received a Nintendo Game Boy port in 1992, and it remains as one of my favorite somewhat obscure Game Boy games. The premise is quite simple, you play as the vengeful spirit of a murdered gangster on a quest to save his girlfriend. In this game, death is no problem. Should you prematurely shed your mortal coil, you can possess a nearby non-boss enemy. Be careful, as careless gameplay may find you without a fleshy home, and then you’ll have a game over. You can check this game out on the Nintendo 3DS e-shop for $3.00.

Boxxle, known in Japan as Soukoban, is a simple puzzle game that involves pushing boxes around on a two-dimensional plane. While this might not seem like a very interesting game to play, and it wasn’t for me, my next-door neighbor loved it. She was an elderly woman, and she liked to sit on her front porch and play Boxxle for hours at a time. I spent a fair number of warm summer afternoons mesmerized by her near supernatural ability to perfectly arrange boxes on the tiny screen. She passed away a few years back, but her memory lives on as one of the coolest elderly people eight-year-old me knew of.

While many know of the notoriously difficult NES platformer Ghosts ‘n Goblins, seldom do we hear of the spin-off title, Gargoyle’s Quest.

Released in 1990 on the Game Boy, Gargoyle’s Quest places players in control of Firebrand, a gargoyle destined for greatness. I’m not sure why I enjoyed this title so much as a kid, though it likely had something to do with the unrelated animated television show of a similar subject matter. Players of Ghosts ‘n Goblins will immediately recognize the soundtrack, and the pixel art has aged well enough that the game is still quite fun to play. Much like Avenging Spirit, Gargoyle’s Quest is available on the 3DS Eshop for $3.99.

There is also a prequel, Gargoyle’s Quest II, and sequel Demon’s Crest, available for the NES/Game Boy and Super Nintendo respectively. Check them out if you’re in the mood for gaming 90s style.

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