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Thread: Game Boy and Super Mario Land's 30th Anniversary (1989 - 2019)

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    Cool Game Boy and Super Mario Land's 30th Anniversary (1989 - 2019)

    April 21st marks the 30th anniversary of the Game Boy. Originally released in 1989, the GB is now thirty years old as of 2019. It also has one of the largest game libraries especially for a cartridge-based console. Not only is the Game Boy the home to a lot of games, it also saw official releases for a very long time.

    Myself, I didn't originally like the Game Boy. As Nintendo Power's attention drained from the Nintendo Entertainment System and was then showered on the Game Boy and later the SNES, it felt to me like the NES and I were being abandoned. After Nintendo Power went all-SNES-and-GB, I stopped subscribing. I figured with its lousy green visuals and poor sound, that the "Game Brick" would be discontinued after a short amount of time and replaced with something better. But the games kept getting released, big name games (eventually having games from venerable series like Mario, Castlevania, Tetris, Metroid, Contra, and more) and with all of the coverage which Nintendo Power and TV were giving the Game Boy, I asked for one for Christmas. Imagine my surprise when for Christmas 1991 instead of a Game Brick (I mean, "Boy."), I got a Game Gear! I was befuddled as the Game Gear was definitely not what I was expecting!

    As I scanned over the Game Gear's box and the info and screenshots printed there, it started to dawn on me that this might... be better than the Game Boy! In addition to Columns (which was included with the Game Gear), I also got Shinobi and Dragon Crystal. It was only a few months later that I got Sonic The Hedgehog, the game which I wanted to play the most of the games featured on the Game Gear's printed promotional materials. Sure, Columns and Shinobi and Dragon Crystal were all good games - with Shinobi being the high-quality stand-out for me - but Sonic was the awesome game starring the famous gaming icon!

    So with awesome new game console in tow and a newfound confidence that the superior visuals and sounds of the Game Gear would eventually trounce the pretender to the throne that was the Game Boy, I played and thoroughly enjoyed my NES, Atari 2600, PC, and Game Gear games in the meanwhile. I would show the Game Gear and its games to my friends, proud of the audiovisual splendor and high-speed game-play of many of the games. Most of these were definitely leagues beyond that of which the Game Boy was capable.

    And yet, something odd happened. While many of my friends liked what they saw or played, only one of them ever got a Game Gear. Everyone else either stayed with their NES, got a Game Boy, or upgraded from NES to Genesis or SNES. I saw the Game Gears and their games and accessories in the stores, and I could tell they were selling as they got replaced with new stock, but nobody I saw other than the one friend ever got a Game Gear. For some reason, the Game Gear didn't take off like wildfire like the Game Boy had despite my expectations!

    Fast forward a few years to perhaps 1993. I was in Germany on a family vacation. My mother convinced me to leave my expensive Game Gear and its games back home in America so they didn't get lost or damaged. It was hot and humid as Germany tends to be in the summertime. I wasn't having a very fun time. Most of the people around me knew little to no English and my immediate family who were there were too busy talking to our German relatives to speak much with me. But there was a ray of hope! One day, the German family that we were visiting had children. They were older than me and so didn't spend much time with me nor at home from what I can recall. They were probably off with their friends much of the time if I had to guess.

    But lo and behold! The family had a Game Boy! The children had grown tired of it, only owning two to four games for it. The two I remember were Tetris and Super Mario Land. Though a good game, I had little interest in Tetris as I had played the NES variant for quite a bit and action games were more my style. Super Mario Land, however, was of great interest to me. The others might have grown bored of their Game Boy, but I, having very little experience with Game Boys and wanting to play video games, was keen to play Super Mario Land. After all, I had played the NES some in Germany at a house or two, but mostly it was a video-game-less experience. And the Super Mario Bros. series, I knew I liked Super Mario Bros. games from having completed Mario 1, 2, and 3 over the years. After all, I had played them as well as Donkey Kong, Dr. Mario, Donkey Kong, Jr. and (non-Super) Mario Bros. on my NES at home.

    So with permission, I began to play Super Mario Land. I was surprised at how similar yet different it was to Super Mario Bros. for the NES. The Super Mushroom was there, but the Fire Flower had been replaced with something else. At first glance this power-up looked and functioned the same... or so I thought! It turned out it wasn't a bouncing fireball which Mario was throwing, but a bouncing super ball that would ricochet off the ground and, if nothing stopped it, off into space!

    Well, with the blurry green Game Boy screen and trying to play the game in the bright summer sunshine, I didn't make a lot of progress with the game. One of the older children commented to me that the game had "only" four levels so they had all finished it and weren't interested in Super Mario Land anymore. Well to me, this was a new challenge! I had to adapt my brain to the odd quirks of Mario Land versus Mario 1. I tried to stand in the shade of the house's outdoors-facing stair hallway to try to see better. A lot of shifting and adjusting of the bulky Game Boy was required to see what was happening.

    Many Mario lives were lost.

    The one older child that had been talking to me got bored and wandered off. I didn't see him for a long time. I didn't see anyone for a long time. Suddenly the heat, the humidity, and the boredom of a trip overseas in a country where people didn't speak my language much... all faded into the background. With the quiet of everyone else being somewhere else and the shade helping me to see, I started to enter, "the zone."

    You know the zone. It is that state you enter when your brain suddenly clicks with a challenge or event happening around you. Smoothly yet suddenly your perspective changes and your mind operates in a different way on another level. Some people call it, "the flow." But whatever you call it, I was entering that state of being there with Super Mario Land. Once my mind had adjusted to SML's quirks ("Koopa shells aren't for kicking, they don't slide away, they stay in place and explode!" "The flies from Mario Bros. are here!" "The stages have two exits - what's the difference between them?") and I started to learn the layouts of the levels, my mind began to flow with the actions on-screen. It no longer mattered that the screen was difficult to see unless I couldn't see well enough at that particular second. It didn't matter that the sound wasn't "high fidelity." It didn't matter that I had to start over many times due to all the lost lives. What mattered is that I was improving, that I was making progress, that I was losing lives less and using continues less often.

    I was in the zone and I was having fun!

    My prejudices towards the Game Boy and the "wrongs" I had suffered by Nintendo Power and society in general seemed to drift away to "nothingness" at that time. It was just me, a handheld console, a video game, and great fun. And I had finally made it to World 2!

    But then my midsummer Nirvana was interrupted. The others had been looking for me. They having wandered off, everyone else forgot where I was because none of them had remembered nor checked where I had been for the last long while. It was late afternoon leading into early evening, and the summer sunshine had turned orange. The Game Boy and game were taken away from me. It was dinnertime. The lightness of my gaming bliss left me as I was taken to the dark indoors to the dinner table. The high heat and oppressive humidity of the world returned to weigh me down. I was once again painfully aware of the many mortal concerns of life like fighting the summer's weather; living on a new, foreign diet; being told when to go to sleep even if I wasn't tired or if I was still hungry; being told when to wake up even if I was still sleepy; and being towed from place to place by well-meaning relatives.

    After that day, I never did get to play that Game Boy again. My family said goodbye to our relatives and were off to our next destination in Europe to see more sights or meet more relatives. At the time I wished that I could have taken the Game Boy and its games with me - after all, my young self thought, "They aren't using it and they don't appreciate it."

    Eventually our summer vacation ended and we flew back to America. While I didn't get to take the Game Boy with me, I did take something else away: a greater respect for Nintendo's monochrome handheld console. While I don't have an original Game Boy even to this day, I do own several Game Boy Advances, a DS Lite, a 3DS, and a New Nintendo 3DS LL. Yes, I even own the GBA-to-GameCube link cable. And yes, though I don't own an old-school Game Brick (Forgive my sauciness, but the old GB really is as thick as a brick.), I do have respect for it and wouldn't mind owning one. I also have Super Mario Land for the 3DS's Game Boy Virtual Console. It took many years to finally get it, but I have owned it for several years by now. And yes, I was able to complete all four worlds despite the sudden shooting stages.

    I also bought Super Mario Land 2 for the 3DS and completed that. After all, I should have been able to: years earlier, it was on my recommendation that my grandmother and mother bought a Game Boy Color and Game Boy games for my sister as birthday and Christmas presents. And, among the Zelda and Harvest Moon and Pokemon and other Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, that's how Super Mario Land 2 first entered our lives. I helped my sister on many occasions to complete levels or defeat bosses on Super Mario Land 2. I actually had to defeat the last boss for her as she just wasn't able to defeat it. So when I finally was able to own and play these two Mario games on my own portable Nintendo console, it was like two different times in my life were revisited from two different time periods.

    It was a nice way to bring things full circle.

    What are your memories of the Game Boy?
    Last edited by Nz17; 04-21-2019 at 05:40 AM.

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    I remember playing the DMG with the Vic Tokai Light circa 1996 in the bus on the way home from a Boy Scouts field trip. We had Donkey Kong, Tetris, Super Mario Land 1-2, Donkey Kong Land, probably others. I remember there being a cereal box promotion where there was this cardboard cutout thing of a GameBoy and you could somehow run paper through it that had game logos on it. Very vague recollection of it but I remember it was on Cocoa Crispies boxes.

    Dont know how I derived any joy from playing that thing but I did use the Super Game Boy off and on. I have a lot more appreciation for the SGB as an adult now
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    Should be noted that this is the Japanese date. North America got it in July, according to Wikipedia at least
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    The Gameboy was a smash hit. Seemed like everyone had one, and Tetris was a great pack-in. My sister got one, so I would just use hers from time to time. I preferred to use my rechargeable batteries though on my RC cars, so I didn't use it that much. There were plenty of garbage sold for GB, but the first several years had top notch stuff, because developers simply programmed for the system, not trying to port NES or SNES titles, which often looked horrible.
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    I didn't get the Brick but I got a GB Pocket when I worked retail. Unfortunately I played more ports, which sucked. I discovered I was not into hand held gaming as I was rocking the 16 Bit home consoles and my 486 at the time. Years later I got a GBA but that got infrequent play as I could get my gaming fix at home.

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    Ah yes, the old Brick. My parents got one from...somewhere (maybe Sam's) that came with Tetris and F-1 Racing (I think, will accept correction on this) as pack-ins. I had a friend that let me borrow some of his stuff quickly thereafter, it had been out for some years already so I tore through Wizards and Warriors X, Mega Man: Dr Wily's Revenge, started my RPG addiction with Final Fantasy Legend II. One game that sticks out still is Power Mission.

    SML was loads of fun, but I didn't play it until I already had SML 2 under my belt. I don't remember why but it seemed to be relatively rare in the schoolyard market back then. I liked all the 'weird' enemies and that each world had some sort of theme going. The shmup in 2-4 and 4-4 kinda jarred at first, but they turned out to be pretty fun in the end. I thought the jumping vampire guys in 4 were my favorite baddies. All in all, its a nice little romp.
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    I just played my Game Boy Pocket. The ghosting effect is awful, almost unplayable. Cant imagine how bad the DMG is. Thankfully they made the Super Game Boy
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    I remember wanting one but not getting a Game Boy until several years after it's release...Christmas of 94. I only had Tetris for the longest time and played it inside and out. Probably the next Christmas I got Super Mario Land 2. My parents were going to get me the first game but they happened to run into my cousin at the store who convinced them that the second game was the better of the 2. Over the years I collected more games but I still never got to play the original Super Mario Land until just a couple years ago actually, when I traded a friend a duplicate I had of SML2 of all things.
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