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Useful Notes / Game Boy Color

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"Get into it!"

"Nintendo brings you this Game Boy game... in Color."

In 1998, Nintendo basically enhanced the Game Boy parts to make a souped-up portable NES and sent out the resulting Game Boy Color into the wild. This made sense, since the Game Boy was similar to the NES already. Learning from the mistakes of the Nintendo 64, Nintendo made the Game Boy Color easy to develop for so that their handheld branch could retain their massive third-party support.

The Game Boy Color also follows the Game Boy's design paradigm (size, durability, cost and battery life). It has about the size and weight of the Game Boy Pocket, and is just as durable. Its launch price was in between the launch price of the Game Boy and the Pocket. Its battery life is about the same as the Pocket's, and best of all, it was backward compatible with Game Boy games, with a handful of 10-color palettes built in to give those old games a hint of color. However its inability to use the color palettes in Super Game Boy–enhanced titles drew small amounts of criticism. Games made specifically with the Game Boy Color in mind would include more specific and variable color palettes- many games were released that were compatible with both the GBC and older Game Boys, but later-released games would require a GBC.


The system was a hit, selling so many systems that Nintendo delayed the release of the Game Boy Advance a few months (since the Color's main processor was meant to be included to ensure backwards compatibility). The total sales are unclear (since Nintendo officially counts the Game Boy Color as a revision of the original Game Boy and counts their sales number together), but the fact that the Advance was delayed meant the Color had to be selling a lot.

An interesting addition was the inclusion of an IR port, which could allow for wireless data transfer between two systems. It wasn't as large-scale as using the link cable though, and could only be used for very minor things. As usual for the Pokémon series, Pokémon Gold and Silver were probably the most well known examples of this features, allowing two players to "Mystery Gift" with each other once a day, basically creating random items for both players. The games could also communicate with a virtual pet, which could get the player a variety of items.


Unfortunately, the system lasted only four years before retiring in 2003, due to Nintendo moving on to the Advance. This makes it probably the most successful system ever to have such a short cycle.


  • The CPU is an enhanced version of the Game Boy's Z80-compatible running at 8 MHz (almost twice the speed of the original Game Boy's CPU, as well as the stuff that was removed from the the Game Boy's CPU was put back in for the Game Boy Color's CPU).
  • The structure allows the system to play original Game Boy games.



  • Sprites and resolution are the same as the Game Boy.
  • Backgrounds can be more detailed in GBC-only games due to additional memory for tiles.
  • Up to 56 colors on screen (eight 4-color background palettes and eight 3-color sprite palettes), out of 32,768 total. Note that this is not really a hardware limitation, but rather palette memory limitation. If the palette is changed every scanline, more colors can be achieved.
  • However, it cannot use the predefined in-game color palettes on Super Game Boy–enabled titles.


  • 2 AA
  • Battery life just over 20 hours.

Add-Ons and Accessories

  • All accessories that were compatible with the Game Boy Pocket are also compatible with the Game Boy Color, including the Universal Link Cable, the Game Boy Camera, and the Game Boy Printer. The original Game Boy Link Cable and Four-Player Adapter isn't compatible without adapters due to the difference in port shapes. Even though it was perfectly compatible with the Game Boy Pocket Link Cable, the Game Boy Color did have its own Link Cable, except the extra cord to plug into the original Game Boy was replaced with a simple adapter (officially called the Universal Game Link Adapter) tethered to the cord.
  • An accessory unique to the Game Boy Color was the Mobile Game Boy Adapter. One end would connect to the Game Boy Color's extension port and the other end into a cellular phone to allow communication between a Game Boy Color and a cellular network to challenge other players or exchange data remotely. The adapter was forwards-compatible with the Game Boy Advance which had its own games that utilized the adapter. Unfortunately, it was too ahead of its time, and for numerous reasons the Mobile Game Boy Adapter failed to take off. Only six games on the Game Boy Color used the Mobile Adapter, and sixteen games on the Game Boy Advance. The service to use the Mobile Adapter shut down in December 2002, not even two years after the Adapter's introduction. The Mobile Adapter never left Japan.

In short, the system can't exactly run rings around the NES, but it can handle graphics just as intense without slowdown or flicker.

Notable Games/Series:

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  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: There were two types of Game Boy Color cartridges: ones that were compatible with the original Game Boy (and by extent, the Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light, and Super Game Boy), and ones that weren't. Game Boy-compatible cartridges were usually black (though sometimes came in different colors, as is the case with Pokémon Gold and Silver) and used the same design as original Game Boy cartridges, while Color-exclusive cartridges were usually clear and uniquely-shaped.
  • Tonka Tough: Zigzagged. It's a durable, well constructed shell that isn't easy to break, but like the original Game Boy, the screen is rather easy to scuff and scratch, and most unfortunately, the buttons can be worn out over time, making gameplay difficult or impossible.


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