Nintendo's released so many systems and iconic games that anniversaries are a regular occurrence; now it's the turn of the Game Boy Color — it's 16 years old, having been released in Japan on 21st October 1998.
While some attribute Nintendo's trend for focusing on innovation and content over raw power as a phenomenon started in the Wii / DS era, that somewhat overlooks the primitive nature of the original Game Boy. It lacked the colour screen and bit count of some contemporaries, but had terrific battery life and excellent games — that's what the market clearly wanted. As much as we love that system, though, it undeniably started to look worryingly primitive as the '90s progressed, revived in its latter stages by the arrival of Pokémon. As the competition upped its game again, Nintendo responded with the Game Boy Color in 1998.
It had its range of enticing exclusives that helped it achieve success, some of which are now gracing the 3DS Virtual Console, yet it was the backward compatibility with Game Boy games — and the chance to apply colour palettes to some titles — that helped maintain the dominance of the Game Boy brand. Though boasting greater capabilities to match its exclusive games, that familiar form-factor helped to extend the Game Boy range until it underwent a more dramatic evolution with the Game Boy Advance in 2001. In fact, Nintendo's strategy with the Game Boy Color has continued in subsequent generations, with the New Nintendo 3DS joining the crew — improved specs, largely similar form-factor, exclusive games. The Color was perhaps more of a standalone generation than the New 3DS, though its 3 year run before the GBA showed that it was, perhaps, a Game Boy 1.5.
Still hugely popular and a lovely little portable, it's now headed into the latter half of its teens. Happy birthday, Game Boy Color.
Image credit: Coolgizmotoys.com