From the Game Boy to the Nintendo DS
But if all these game consoles were a faithful companion to Andy throughout his years as a teenager, young man, and eventually a parent,
he also analysed and enjoyed them from a technical perspective.
Andy has been a journalist for more than ten years, and he gradually established his authority as a family video game expert by writing for virtually any national publication in the UK. Since 2011, he has been running a YouTube channel for families, FamilyGamerTV, and most recently is working on Taming Gaming, a book on the same topic.
When I ask Andy what was so special about the Nintendo handheld devices, he pauses for a second and looks at all the devices tidily arranged on the rectangular table.
“I think Nintendo, as a company, are really good at surprising consumers. They’re really good at innovating.”
Andy says that with almost every new Game Boy version, Nintendo managed to introduce something new and valuable.
Like the transition between the original Game Boy and the Game Boy Color, for example. “I thought that was very clever,” Andy says, “how some existing cartridges I had, when I put them in the Game Boy Color suddenly had a new coat of paint.”
“So Top Ranking Tennis was the same but here [on the first Game Boy] is just black and white, and you put it in a Game Boy Color you discover that actually those players have got programmed in different coloured outfits [...] And so I like that there is some kind of future proofing almost in what they have over-delivered in the original Game Boy games.”
Andy also talks about the fun he experienced playing Game Boy games on the Super Game Boy, a cartridge for the Super Nintendo console that had a slot for Game Boy games allowing them to be played on a TV.
In the case of the original Donkey Kong game, for example, Nintendo not only had programmed in colours into the original cartridge but even added a secret arcade-like decor you could only see on the Game Boy Color and Super. “So if you put it into the cartridge converter and you play [the game] on the TV, you’d have like an arcade’s surround to the game and the game sits it.
“That image was all there in the cartridge, and for many years I didn't know it was there until I put it into a new system and suddenly I realised that.”
And throughout the years, Andy says, Nintendo kept on innovating, one device after the other. “It's nice to see how the console itself develop[ed]. From the Game Boy Color to the new Game Boy Advance [and then SP], which is obviously a whole new world in terms of what they [could] do on the screen, and you get into proper backlight.”
After the Game Boy Advance SP in 2003 and then Game Boy Micro in 2005 (which dropped backwards compatibility with original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games), Nintendo officially stopped releasing new versions of Game Boy handhelds and started the distribution of the Nintendo DS in 2004.
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