The Nintendo 3DS Is The Anti-Game Boy

The Nintendo 3DS Is The Anti-Game Boy

Inexpensive, low-tech and sporting an impressive battery life, the Nintendo Game Boy was released in 1989. Next month, Nintendo is releasing the 3DS. It’s everything the Game Boy wasn’t. It is the Anti-Game Boy.

Designed by Gunpei Yokoi, the Game Boy was big and bulky with grey graphics. The machine was and is almost indestructible, making it a perfect portable. Players didn’t have to worry about chucking it in their bag. Neither did soliders. And not only was the Game Boy tough, it could run on batteries for seemingly forever.

There were more powerful, technologically superior handhelds released during the Game Boy’s lifespan, like the Atari Lynx and the Sega Game Gear, but the Game Boy beat them all. Much of the console’s success was due to a strong library of games like Tetris as well as Pokémon, Mario and Zelda. The handheld’s affordable pricetag didn’t hurt either, putting it in reach of a wider array of consumers.

The Game Boy was initially priced at $US99.99, but gradually became cheaper over time as production costs lowered. In comparison, Sega’s Game Gear cost $US149.99, putting it in the realm of a home gaming console. When the console was released, Sega played up the machine’s technical features, while poking fun at Nintendo’s low-tech approach to handheld gaming. It didn’t matter, the Game Boy destroyed the Game Gear.

But where does the Nintendo 3DS fit in? Unlike the Game Boy, the Nintendo 3DS is outfitted with all sorts of bells and whistles — far more than what the Nintendo DS originally offered. The 3DS boasts a pleathora of features beyond simple gaming. It can do augmented reality, it has a 3D camera, it can trade data with other 3DS owners players pass on the street. The bells and whistles on the 3DS are actually the most un-Nintendo thing about the product. This is a company who did not put a DVD player in the Wii, because it thought people should only play video games on it. Yet, the 3DS lets gamers view streaming television and movies, all in 3D.

Nintendo still seems to believe that the focus with the 3DS is fun, but at $US249.99 and with its 3D tech (that’s making some ill, apparently), the 3DS is certainly not in the same spirit as the Game Boy. No doubt, Nintendo is hard at work on enjoyable and compelling titles, but the 3DS certainly isn’t this generation’s Game Boy. It costs more, and the battery life is apparently no where near the Game Boy’s 30 hour battery life.

The Game Boy was an every man’s portable. The 3DS is definitely trying to be that, what with its optional 3D effects. But that’s the thing, there will be gamers who shell out $US249.99 and use the 3D effects, which are presumably causing higher production costs for the machine, and then never use them again. The original Game Boy was so barebones that players paid for what they got and pretty much used it all.

Nintendo is once again rolling the dice. The gamble on the DS paid off handsomely, and don’t count the Kyoto-based game maker out just yet with the 3DS. Fears that the 3DS is more Virtual Boy than Game Boy are overstated. It’ll survive the handheld wars. Just don’t go looking for the 3DS to survive real wars like the Game Boy did.


  • This article is all over the place.
    Firstly (and obviously) the original Gameboy had a green screen, not gray.
    And secondly, Pokemon had nothing to do with Gameboy out selling the Lynx and the Gamegear as it wasn’t available until well after the they were off the market.

    Is this a research or an editing fail?

    Brian Ashcraft, I am dissapoint…

    • Agreed. A discussion about Master System conversions of SEGA arcades, the heavy percentage of Lynx games that were only Epyx or Atari titles, vs both the widespread release of licensed properties, familiar titles from third party developers from Konami and Capcom to Codemasters combined with very strong first party title support from Nintendo would probably been more historically accurate.

      My preference would be definitely towards research and editing, not the random thoughts of a writer. News articles need to come out quickly, and can contain errors in getting to print fast – that’s understood, but this scattering should have been editorially stopped.

  • Look at the success of the iPhone, nowadays impressive (or at least showy) technology is more likely to win out over affordability for the majority of consumers. When someone uses a demo 3DS in a shop, they’re going to want to buy it for impressiveness of the 3D.

    If the console actually has long running success is more dependent on the games themselves.

  • You know what i remember from the original gameboy? Constantly changing the freaking batteries. Oh, and rechargable batteries wouldn’t work in it, so i’d have to go and shell out another five bucks every time it ran out.

    Sure, I (or my parents at that stage) may have only spent us $89 on a gameboy, but I reckon through it’s years of play we spent at LEAST that much on batteries.

    I’d take a 4 hour rechargeable battery life console over a 30 hour one that I have to keep buying batteries for any day.

    $250 is not even really that much these days, considering most entry-level smart phones are close to $300, with the really fancy ones hitting upwards of $700! We are still ‘getting what we paid for’, consider that the PSPgo was similarly priced, and offered half of what the 3DS will offer

  • Yeah the original Game Boy was not kind to Batteries – the Pocket was better of course but I don’t think it was until the GBA with it’s built in rechargeable battery that I stopped worrying about battery life in those things.

    • I think Brian meant in comparison. I had a game gear as a kid and it would barely last a day on six whereas I would get a few days out of four on the gameboy.

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