Game Boy Color
The Atomic Purple version of the Game Boy Color
|Also known as||GBC / CGB-001|
|Developer||Nintendo Research & Engineering|
|Product family||Game Boy family|
|Type||Handheld game console|
|Discontinued||March 23, 2003|
|Units shipped||118.69 million (including other Game Boy systems)|
|Media||Game Boy Color Game Pak|
|CPU||Sharp LR35902 core @ 4.19/8.38 MHz|
|Display||TFT LCD 160 (w) x 144 (h) pixels, 44x40 mm|
|Online services||Mobile System GB|
|Best-selling game||Pokémon Gold and Silver, approximately 23 million units|
|Successor||Game Boy Advance|
The Game Boy Color[a] (commonly abbreviated as GBC) is a handheld game console, manufactured by Nintendo, which was released in Japan on October 21, 1998 and to international markets that November. It is the successor to the original Game Boy and is part of the Game Boy family.
The GBC features a color screen rather than monochrome, but it is not backlit. It is slightly thicker and taller and features a slightly smaller screen than the Game Boy Pocket, its immediate predecessor in the Game Boy line. As with the original Game Boy, it has a custom 8-bit processor made by Sharp that is considered a hybrid between the Intel 8080 and the Zilog Z80. The American English spelling of the system's name, Game Boy Color, remains consistent throughout the world.
The Game Boy Color is part of the fifth generation of video game consoles. The GBC's primary competitors in Japan were the grayscale 16-bit handhelds, SNK's Neo Geo Pocket and Bandai's WonderSwan, though the Game Boy Color outsold them by a wide margin. SNK and Bandai countered with the Neo Geo Pocket Color and the WonderSwan Color, respectively, but this did little to change Nintendo's sales dominance. With Sega discontinuing the Game Gear in 1997, the Game Boy Color's only competitor in the United States was its predecessor, the Game Boy, until the short-lived Neo Geo Pocket Color was released in North America in August 1999. The Game Boy and the Game Boy Color combined have sold 118.69 million units worldwide making them the third-best-selling system of all time,
The release of the Game Boy Color was a response to pressure from game developers for a more sophisticated handheld platform, who said that even the latest iteration of the original system, the Game Boy Pocket, was insufficient. The resultant product was backward compatible with all existing Game Boy software, a first for a handheld system, allowing each new Game Boy family launch to begin with a significantly larger game library than any of its competitors.
On March 23, 2003, the Game Boy Color was discontinued.
The technical specifications for the console are as follows:
|Size||approximately 78 mm (3.1 in) x 133.5 mm (5.26 in) x 27.4 mm (1.08 in) (WxHxD)|
|Weight||approximately 138 g (4.9 oz)|
|Screen||2.3 inch reflective thin-film transistor (TFT) color liquid-crystal display (LCD)
|Display size||43 mm (1.7 in) by 41 mm (1.6 in)|
|Power||internal: 2× AA batteries|
external: 3V DC 0.6W (2.35mm × 0.75mm)
red LED indicator
|Battery life||up to 10 hours of gameplay|
|CPU||4.194304/8.388608 MHz (effective speed 1.0485 (speed of original Game Boy) or 2.097 MHz) Sharp Corporation LR35902 (based on the 8-bit Zilog Z80)|
|Memory||32 kiB RAM; 16 kiB VRAM|
|Resolution||160 (w) × 144 (h) pixels (10:9 aspect ratio; same aspect ratio and resolution as the original Game Boy)|
|Color support||Palette colors available: 32,768 (15-bit)|
Colors on screen: Supports 10, 32 or 56
|Sound||2 square wave channels, 1 wave channel, 1 noise channel, mono speaker, stereo headphone jack|
Game Paks manufactured by Nintendo have the following specifications:
- ROM: 8 MB maximum
- Cartridge RAM: 128 kiB maximum
Without additional mapper hardware, the maximum ROM size is 32kiB/256kib.
The processor, which is a Zilog Z80 workalike made by Sharp with a few extra (bit manipulation) instructions, has a clock speed of approximately 8 MHz, twice as fast as that of the original Game Boy. The Game Boy Color has three times as much memory as the original (32 kilobytes system RAM, 16 kilobytes video RAM). The screen resolution is the same as the original Game Boy at 160×144 pixels.
The Game Boy Color features an infrared communications port for wireless linking. The feature is only supported in a small number of games, so the infrared port was dropped from the Game Boy Advance line, to be later reintroduced with the Nintendo 3DS, though wireless linking would return in the Nintendo DS line using Wi-Fi. The console is capable of displaying up to 56 different colors simultaneously on screen from its palette of 32,768 (8×4 color background palettes, 8x3+transparent sprite palettes), and can add basic four-, seven- or ten-color shading to games that had been developed for the original 4-shades-of-grey Game Boy. In the 7-color modes, the sprites and backgrounds are given separate color schemes, and in the 10-color modes the sprites are further split into two differently-colored groups; however, as flat black (or white) was a shared fourth color in all but one (7-color) palette, the overall effect is that of 4, 6, or 8 colors. This method of upgrading the color count results in graphic artifacts in certain games; for example, a sprite that is supposed to meld into the background is sometimes colored separately, making it easily noticeable. Manipulation of palette registers during display allows for a rarely used high color mode, capable of displaying more than 2,000 colors on the screen simultaneously.
Color palettes used for Game Boy games
|Directional pad||Action button|
For dozens of select Game Boy games, the Game Boy Color has an enhanced palette built-in featuring up to 16 colors - four colors for each of the Game Boy's four layers. If the system does not have a palette stored for a game, it defaults to a palette of green, blue, salmon, black, and white. However, at power up, one of 12 built-in color palettes is selectable by pressing a directional button and optionally A or B while the Game Boy logo is present on the screen.
These palettes each contain up to ten colors. In most games, the four shades displayed on the original Game Boy translate to different subsets of this 10-color palette, such as by displaying movable sprites in one subset and backgrounds in another. The grayscale (Left + B) palette produces an appearance similar to that experienced on the original Game Boy, Game Boy Pocket or Game Boy Light.
Partial list of games with special palettes
- Donkey Kong
- Kirby's Dream Land
- Kirby's Dream Land 2
- Kirby's Pinball Land
- Metroid II: Return of Samus
- Pokémon Red and Blue
- Pokémon Yellow (original Game Boy version)
- Super Mario Land
- Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
- Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3
A few games used a programming technique to increase the number of colors available on-screen to more than 2,000. This "Hi-Color mode" was used by licensed developers including 7th Sense. Some examples of games using this technique are The Fish Files, The New Addams Family Series, and Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare. Cannon Fodder uses this technique to render full motion video segments in the introduction sequence, ending, and main menu screen.
Game Boy Color exclusive games are housed in clear-colored Game Pak cartridges. They are shaped differently than original Game Boy Game Paks. Notably, these cartridges lack a notch that prevented the original Game Paks from being removed while the original Game Boy was powered on due to a plastic piece attached to the power switch, which would slide over the notch, locking a cartridge inside the system during gameplay (although some special cartridges like Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble do include this notch). The lack of this notch keeps original Game Boy systems loaded with Game Boy Color cartridges from powering on. Similarly, Game Boy Pocket, Super Game Boy, Super Game Boy 2, and Game Boy Light will power on when loaded with a Game Boy Color cartridge, but will refuse to load the game and will display a warning message stating that a Game Boy Color system is required. This same warning message can be viewed on an original Game Boy as well if the piece that slides into the notch is cut out of the Game Boy. Some Game Boy cartridges such as Chee-Chai Alien and Pocket Music cannot be played on Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP systems. When inserted and powered on, these systems will exhibit a similar error message and will not load the game.
The logo for Game Boy Color spells out the word "COLOR" in the five original colors in which the unit was manufactured: Berry (C), Grape (O), Kiwi (L), Dandelion (O), and Teal (R).
Another color released at the same time was "Atomic Purple", made of a translucent purple plastic similar to the color available for the Nintendo 64 controller. Other colors were sold as limited editions or in specific countries.
Due to its backward compatibility with Game Boy games, the Game Boy Color's launch period had a large playable library. The system amassed a library of 576 Game Boy Color games over a four-year period. While the majority of the games are Game Boy Color exclusive, approximately 30% of the games released are compatible with the original Game Boy.
Tetris for the original Game Boy is the best-selling game compatible with Game Boy Color, and Pokémon Gold and Silver are the best-selling games developed primarily for it. The best-selling Game Boy Color exclusive game is Pokémon Crystal.
The last Game Boy Color game ever released is the Japanese exclusive Doraemon no Study Boy: Kanji Yomikaki Master, on July 18, 2003. The last game released in North America is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, released on November 15, 2002. In Europe the last game released for the system is Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite!, on January 10, 2003.
|Centipede||Monochrome game made by Accolade|
|Dragon Warrior Monsters||Portable role-playing game in the Dragon Quest series|
|Game & Watch Gallery 2||Sequel to the 1995 Game & Watch Gallery for the original Game Boy|
|Pocket Bomberman||Platform game in the Bomberman series.|
|Pocket Bowling||Sports game|
|Tetris DX||Port of the 1984 puzzle game|
|Wario Land II||Sequel to the 1993 platform game, Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3|
In 2003, when the Game Boy Color was discontinued, the pair was the best-selling game console of all time. Both the Nintendo DS and PlayStation 2 have since outsold the Game Boy and Game Boy Color and are now the third-best-selling console and the second-best-selling handheld of all time.
- Japanese: ゲームボーイカラー
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Game Boy Color.|
- Official website
- Game Boy Color at Nintendo.com (archived versions at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine)
- Wayback Machine at Nintendo.com (archived from "the original" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 3, 2006. at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine)
- Game Boy Color at Curlie
- Nintendo Announces Full Color Game Boy - ROME (March 10, 1998)