Now You're Playing With PORTABLE POWER!

As you might have guessed from my lenghty Pokèmon memories, I have a special connection with the Game Boy line of consoles, in particular with the Game Boy Color. Obviously, with mainline and the majority of spinoff games of the first and second generation of collectable monsters getting published for the portable brick, it's no surprise that it quickly rose to the top of my favourites list during childhood; as I grew up and I could access to both more games for the system and more info about its history and peculiarities, this interest grew even further! Nowadays I actively collect Game Boy consoles, cartridges, accessories and documentation and I try to review or at least talk about the backstory of every new addition to my collection on my gaming blog, BlastoiseMonster. But one site is never enough for a big passion, so here's a little shrine- which you can consider an introduction to Game Boys, if you've never come across these pocket marvels!

It Almost Started With Pokèmon
As mentioned in my Pokèmon shrine, Blue version was one of my first games for the GBC, but not the very first one! When I went to buy the console (I got a Berry GBC on that day!) in order to also acquire the first mainline adventure of Pocket Monsters, my local shop still didn't have that game available. Promising to keep a copy for me on the next restock, the seller convinced me (and my parents' wallet) to get another title in the meanwhile. I don't remember much variety in the available stock (no Mario titles either, for some reason, because otherwise I would've gone straight for that) so I went for the next thing that felt more recognizable to kid me: Disney characters.
My first game was Rare's Mickey's Racing Adventure, which actually isn't that bad! Not only the cartridge was enhanced to run only on Game Boy Color consoles (giving out full colour and even more features) but the gameplay was decent as well, mixing a racing Story Mode with simple RPG elements and a couple action puzzles sidegames. I mean, it's a pre-Microsoft acquisition Rare game, the same guys behind Conker's Bad Fur Day! That's gotta be good!
However, it's only when Pokèmon Blue arrived at the shop that I really became obsessed with the GB. I remember getting back from school the first day after buying the cartridge and wanting to finish my lunch as soon as possible as I wanted to explore more of Viridian Forest xD Even though I kept getting only new Pokèmon games from then on, these titles were designed to be the ultimate Game Boy games, allowing players to experience their little consoles in all their features; obviously the Link Cable accessory comes to mind, but also Gold and Silver's double compatibility between GB Classic and Color, the use of GBC's infrared port for exchanging gifts in Crystal, the many ways players could use their GB Printers in Pokemon Trading Card Game, Pokemon Pinball's rumble feature! Not to mention how this trend continued in the GBA era with Pocket Monsters inspiring even new technologies such as the E-Reader.
In short, while the Game Boy library is undoubtly immense, it's no surprise that many fans of the console are also long term Pokèmon fans: the franchise was made to thrive on the Game Boy and the many titles of that era clearly reflect this affinity. My journey with the little handheld almost started with Pokemon, but the continued passion surely was fueled by them.

Pocket Family
Game Boys started appearing on shop shelves in 1989; during decades, new models have been produced that expanded its life and kept the line relevant up until the mid 2000!

Let's start with the Classic: the OG Game Boy arrived on european shop shelves in the year 1990, just one year before my birth! I could say it's almost my contemporary. While it is incorrect to label it as the first handheld console made by Nintendo (that honour goes to the Game And Watch series), it still brought so many novelties to the gaming panorama of the time. Exactly like the Famicom it ran on cartridges so players just had to buy a swappable piece to try out new games; it was robust and sturdy to survive days outside and being handled by clumsy kids (it even resisted to a trip into space and the Gulf War!); and despite its "minimal" graphics of only greyscale it managed to surpass its Sega and Atari rivals by offering a much bigger autonomy: the Game Gear and the Lynx might have had coloured screens, but they drank battery juice like thirsty camels! In time, more companies decided to develop titles for the Game Boy and this allowed the grey brick to offer many, many more titles than Sega and Atari could ever do. Total shelf killer!
Other than tons of games, the Game Boy recieved support by either Nintendo or third party companies to enhance its experience: from external lights to allow players to play in the dark, to speaker boosters to really turn it up to your favourite chiptunes. There were even AC adaptors to play while plugged instead of using batteries (though, that would kinda defeat its purpose, doesn't it?) and Nintendo issued record-breaking cameras and printers accessories to have even more fun outside gaming. A whole system to turn the Game Boy into a laptop was in the works yet sadly it never saw the light of day, and now remains as one of the most interesting accessory prototypes.
Another peculiarity of the Game Boy was the sheer variety of its appeareance: the most famous batch of Game Boy's alternative colours is from 1995 with the Play It Loud line which featured the brick in Blue, Green, Red, Yellow, Black and the most famous, Transparent! But special editions go even beyond that and many exclusive editions (and colour combinations!) were made in collaborations with store chains, companies, even events or sports team. This variety started a trend with the whole Game Boy line whose subsequent models became more and more colorful, a new exclusive edition popping up for every occasion. If the console itself is so collectible nowadays onpar with its own games, it's thanks to the rainbow of special editions out there in the wild ready to be discovered and documented!

Between the Classic model and its real successor the GBC, two other models are surely of note: the Game Boy Pocket and the Game Boy Light. They both often pass unnoticed under the eyes of gamers, which is unfortunate because they brought a lot of new features!
The Pocket version is, first and foremost, a smaller Classic Game Boy. The grey brick could use some diet and, undoubtly, the Pocket resolves this by being literally made to fit into a pocket. It came out in 1997 and though the case is smaller its screen is actually bigger, presenting an higher quality LCD screen that employs grey tones along with black and white, making images even clearer! It also requires less power to work with as it asks only for two AAA batteries. Other than that, its different case means it has different-shaped external ports for the Link Cable and the Printer. This may have caused some confusion at the beginning and many wanting to connect the Classic with the Pocket had to use an adapter at first; however, the Pocket's shape of the port actually became the standard for that format and subsequent model followed that shape.
The Pocket had so many special editions, too: of course, the most interesting to me is one dedicated to my own country, even if it's just in collaboration with a soccer team! The Fiorentina GBP is a special limited console that comes in a beautiful bundle box. Its silvery case colour might not be much peculiar but grafted to it is a metal and enamel Mario detailing the console number. Now that's unique! Another very beautiful and very rare edition is the Imagineer GBP, which glows in the dark! This hightly sought after edition only counts about 2000 copies made as it was put as a prize for players that would complete the N64 game Multi Racing Championship, take a pictures of their lap times and mail them to the developer company (you guessed it... it was Imagineer). The fastest cars would win the console! Nowadays, this goes for a pretty, pretty penny. But the story and its beauty have no price!

The Game Boy Light, instead, never left the shores of Japan in its initial run of 1998 but it soon became a very common after model for collectors. Along with every novelty brought out by the Pocket, the GBLight also came with a retro-illuminated screen that vastly improved its visibility problems, especially at night! As for the japanese exclusivity, once importing games became more common it proved to be no problem at all: none of the Game Boy consoles nor their games are region locked, so they can be played directly without any modifications!
Of the Game Boy Light special editions, my personal favourite is the Extreme Green! This version might not glow in the dark, but its semi-transparent acid green case surely shines ultrabright under the sun!

Best VS Favourite
Until DS Makes Us Part
The King Of Creative Collecting
My Own Stash!