Friday, June 4, 2010

Colors for Crullers

Seeing those new DSi XL colors from the other day reminded me of some of the cool hues Nintendo has painted their systems with in the past, including their premiere portable, the Game Boy.

Of course, we all remember the good ol' Gameboy (or at least, we've seen one before, right?).  Since the Christmas of '87 (when I became helplessly addicted to Nintendo), I've always wanted every cool thing Nintendo released, which is pretty much everything they released.  It had really cool games, like Super Mario Land, Picross, and Tetris (which, btw, sold a ridiculous 30 million copies).

Sure, the GB had some issues, like the screen.  You pretty much had to be playing in direct sunlight to even see everything, and even then, the screen could be a bit blurry at times.  But that didn't matter.  Nintendo's forte has always been to make exceptional games with less expensive technology.  Having games like Mario, Metroid, and the best Zelda ever made helped keep this system on top of the charts, even when higher-powered, color-screened competitors entered the market.

Sometime around 1995, Nintendo decided to start making colored Game Boys.  And I don't mean the Game Boy Color.  I mean regular Game Boys with colored shells.  They called it the "Play It Loud" series.  And while they were basically the same thing, I wanted one that much more.  They had yellow, red, green, blue, and the ultra-awesome clear shell.  I remember this period of my life very vividly: my older brother had a job, so he pre-ordered the clear one (so awesome!) with Donkey Kong Land from JC Penney.  I remember playing Kirby's Dreamland 2 for hours while he was at work.  In fact, I would sit by the window and wait for him to come home so I could put it back before he beat me up.  Then, one day (1996-ish), my family was at Wal-Mart, and they had the colored Game Boys on sale for - I kid you not - $55.  My parents owed me that much money (for what, I don't remember), and I begged them to buy me the green one, but to no avail.  I was not a happy camper.  But it wasn't all bad news.  A better system was released shortly thereafter.  More on that later.

A year or so after the Play It Loud series was released, Nintendo revised the Game Boy design dramatically, giving it a much sleeker profile, and more importantly, a much sharper screen.  It was called the Game Boy Pocket, and it was a beautiful thing to behold.  My younger brother actually got one that Christmas with Kirby's Block Ball.  Yeah, I kinda got shafted back then when it came to video games.  But that's not to say I didn't play his all the time, 'cause I did.  Sadly, some time after it was handed down to my sister, it was lost forever.  Oh, and to the little brat who stole it out of my parent's crappy brown minivan with my copy of Super Mario Land 2, I hope you burn in hell.

But moving on, a year or so after that revision to the Game Boy, Nintendo blew our minds: a colored screen.  In fact, this is how it went: my older brother always bought video game magazines (EGM, etc), and my younger brother and I would steal them and read them.  Well, one day, we're out in the crappy brown minivan while our parents are shopping at Waremart (cheap food store, which later turned into Winco) reading one of these magazines.  Our conversation went exactly like this, I kid you not:

Me: "Hey, do you know what'll be cool?"

Him: "What?"

Me: "When they make a Game Boy with a colored screen."

Him: "Yeah, that'd be so cool."

*turns page*


That's right, the next page was a huge article on the newly announced Game Boy Color, with the flagship clear "Atomic Purple" color in all its glory.  I couldn't have been happier.  In the summer of 1999, I got a job at Wendy's and my very first paycheck of my whole life bought me the clear purple GBC, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, and Conker's Pocket Tales.  It was a glorious day.  And from then on, I bought a new game almost every week while I was working.  I still hold very fondly the memories of that clear purple wonder that helped me through countless lunch rushes, class lectures, and bus rides.  Essentially, it was like this: all through high school, I played it almost every day on the bus ride to school, on the way home (30 minutes each way), during class, at home, and on speech trips (which were nearly every weekend from like November to March).  Yeah, I tended to play it a lot.  I logged over 100 hours on Mario Golf (the counter stops at 99:99), I beat Zelda 3 or 4 times all the way through, and I played that co-op mode on Mario Deluxe thousands of times.  My good ol' GBC got more play time than perhaps any system since.  Eventually, it was handed down to my brother, and later on, sadly, it died.  It was probably the only Nintendo system I've ever owned that simply stopped working.  Poor thing.  (I have the teal colored one now).

The Game Boy Color was cool because it could play the new Color games (which had clear cartridges), plus it could play older games in color (you could even choose the colors somewhat, although with a very limited palette).  They also made special black "in-between" cartridges that worked on the GBC and the regular GB.  Plus, it lasted forever with just 2 batteries.  I bought 4 rechargeable AA batteries for it (swapping sets back and forth) and the batteries wore out long before the system did.  Awesome.

The next iteration of the Game Boy came out in 2001, but I'll save that one for tomorrow.  Until then, I think I'll go play a round of Mario Golf on my teal GBC.  Or maybe I'll play some Pokemon Pinball.  Duke Nukem maybe?  Perfect Dark?  Motocross Maniacs 2?  Wario Land 3?...


1 comment:

Rachel said...

Super cool :) I love the story about talking about the Gameboy color and then see it in the magazine. Hehe, you are so awesome! I love you!