Review: Nintendo Game Boy Color

Manufacturer: Nintendo | Year: 1998 | List Price: ~$29.99 | Buy from Amazon

Game Boy ColorAbout 2 months ago, I was shopping online for some retro video games when I came across a Game Boy Color for $35. It was lime green (Kiwi), my favourite colour, and there was only one left in stock, so I made the impulse decision to buy it, along with a copy of Pokémon Yellow. Being an owner of a Game Boy Advance SP, I really didn’t need it at all because the SP plays all games in the Game Boy line. Regardless, it made playing original Game Boy games and Game Boy Color games feel super legit, so I decided that it would be worth the money. It’s become my take-everywhere game system, so I don’t regret buying it, but I definitely could’ve lived without making the purchase.

The Nintendo Game Boy Color is a handheld game console released in North America in 1998 as a successor to the Game Boy. It has the same 8-bit processor and CPU as the Game Boy, but it featured a colour screen. The system uses similar ROM cartridges to the Game Boy and is also backwards compatible. The Game Boy Color outsold all of it’s competitors of its generation by an enormous margin, and was not discontinued until the release of the Game Boy Advance SP 2003.

Design: While it certainly looks like a clunky piece of plastic by today’s standards, the Game Boy Color’s design is definitely an icon in video game history. While it looks quite similar to the Game Boy, it is much sleeker and more comfortable to hold (although it also feels slightly less nostalgic.) The D-pad is insanely squishy and difficult to press, making every play session a thumb workout. The ‘A’ and ‘B’ buttons, on the other hand, are pleasantly clicky, which is really nice for mashing ‘A’ when playing Pokémon. The rubbery ‘Start’ and ‘Select’ are small and within reach, which is great as far as those buttons go. The volume is kinda weird (turns down to increase volume), but it’s dial form-factor is nice because it makes it difficult to accidentally hit it and blast the sound. Blasting the sound isn’t really a problem, though, because the speaker cannot go very loud and it sounds buzzy and gross. The presence of a headphone jack somewhat make up for this because I can plug in my headphones or portable speakers to enjoy the fun 8-bit sound. Nearly every Nintendo handheld console (besides the DS Lite) is considerably durable and the Game Boy Color is no exception. There are YouTube videos of people dropping them off buildings onto concrete without damaging them, and while I would never do such a thing, it does give me confidence in how sturdy it is. My only complaint is the lack of a front-light, because they had one in the Game Boy Light, but for some reason, it didn’t carry up to the Game Boy Color (or the Game Boy Advance, for that matter.) (Great)

Library: The Game Boy Color has a huge library of games because it is backwards compatible and can play Game Boy games. These games include huge names like Tetris, Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Mario, Final Fantasy, and Pokémon. While I don’t own many of these games myself, they can be purchased at very reasonable prices at retro game stores and online. These prices can be comparable to and sometimes even lower than their 3DS Virtual Console counterparts. (Excellent)

Value: At around $35, the Game Boy Color is not a complete rip-off, but it definitely isn’t a great deal. For approximately $10 more, you can buy a Game Boy Advance SP, which can play the same games, plus newer GBA games, on a lit screen. For those who have a 3DS, many of these games (the good ones, anyway) are already ported for Virtual Console on the Nintendo eShop. Due to the fact that there are newer systems that play these same games, the only reason to buy a Game Boy Color is to feel hardcore and old-school-like while you play old games. (OK)

Should you buy it? No, unless … you want it for the mere purpose of enhancing your retro gaming experience by using a more legit-feeling console. If you are looking to play old cartridge-based Nintendo handheld games, your best bet would probably be the Game Boy Advance SP (the front-lit one, because front-lit is a way of life.)

List Price: ~$29.99 | Buy from Amazon

Do you have Game Boy Color? Do you agree with what I wrote above? Tell us in the comments!

Also, check out our other game reviews here, and see the rather short and usually-up-to-date list of my favourite video games here! There are currently no reviews for any Game Boy Color games on Kantaloupe, but there are a few that have made their way onto the list of Baobab’s Favourite Nintendo Console games posts, which can be found here, here, and here.

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