Let me take you back to the early 1990s. You're sitting in the backseat during a long road trip, but that doesn't matter. You've got the perfect travel companion in a plastic shell, ready to take you on an adventure without setting foot outside. Yes, it's your trusty Game Boy, and whether you're playing Tetris or Pokémon, you're just hoping to play as much as you can before it gets dark and you can no longer see the screen. Oh, the memories.
Nostalgia is a hot-ticket item that always sells well, and Nintendo knows it. Otherwise, the company probably would have never created the NES and SNES Classic systems. These little bite-sized replicas of the real thing gave a whole new generation access to some of Nintendo's greatest games, almost exactly as we remember them. Granted, there's no blowing in the cartridge and Chrono Trigger is nowhere to be found, but it was close. After four long years, it's about time to bring back one of the top-selling consoles of all time and finally allow us to replay some of our favorite games. We need a Game Boy Classic.
Why the Game Boy?
Having a Nintendo Switch may make having a "classic" handheld system seem obsolete, but there is plenty of value here. When the NES Classic first released in 2016, selling out almost immediately. When it was brought back in June 2018, it outsold the Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One for the month. Nintendo produced and sold over 2.3 million during the initial run, selling out within weeks. Despite a very rocky release, the SNES Classic still managed to sell 5 million units. So, it's safe to say that there's some love for the older consoles.
Unlike the NES and SNES Classic consoles, it's tough to get your hands on most Game Boy exclusive games. While Nintendo has brought NES and SNES games to Nintendo Switch Online, Game Boy and Game Boy Color haven't really gotten this treatment. Right now, if you don't have an emulator or an old Game Boy to dig up out of your closet, there's almost no way to play the classics.
Of course, there are a few. You can play the Link's Awakening remake on the Nintendo Switch, an "updated" Pokémon Yellow version with Let's Go Pikachu, and there are a bunch of new versions of Tetris, but sometimes you want to go old school. This system is basically the birthplace of Pokémon! It would be a great way to introduce some wonderful games to future generations.
Opening up the handheld Pandora's Box by making a Game Boy or Game Boy Color Classic could pave the way for other handheld systems like the Game Boy Advance, the DS, and 3DS. Since Nintendo has pretty much ended their handheld line in favor of the Switch, there really is no "handheld" system. The company has a way of hoarding the classics and releasing them in due time to the ravenous masses, and it's only about time for the Game Boy to get that treatment. Eighteen years is a long time to wait.
An affordable idea
It's possible that with the Switch being the focus, another "Classic" might not sell as well. But I argue that there's a market for it, and the key here could just be affordability. Since the other classic systems sat around the $60-$80 range, it's likely that a Game Boy Classic would find its price around there. That's much cheaper than a $350 Switch OLED, a $300 Switch, or even a $200 Switch Lite. Not everyone can drop a couple hundred dollars on a game system, but at under $100 and with around a possible 30 classic games, it's much easier on the wallet.
At the very least, Nintendo should consider adding Game Boy games to their Nintendo Switch Online service. It would be one more perk of buying in. Fans would jump at the chance to play some of these classic titles once they have finally broken free of their grid-locked prison.
The hardest part of a Game Boy Classic
The Game Boy has over 1,000 games to choose from, while the Game Boy Color having just over 900. The goal would be to narrow down this extensive list to around 30 games, much like the NES Classic. Perhaps there's room for a few more, depending on system limitations. In fact, game selection was one of the biggest gripes with the NES and SNES classics — not all of the games were considered "classics" and there were so many left out.
The Game Boy/ Game Boy color had long life from 1989-2003 between the two handhelds. That's quite a few generations of Pokémon to choose from. So, how do you pick from such an expansive list? I'm sure it's possible to pick 30 amazing games from the roster that includes Super Mario Land, Metroid II, Wario Land, Tetris, and several amazing Legend of Zelda titles. That's just the tip of the iceberg; but, think about how many more would want this system if given the option to mod them for more than just a few preloaded games. There's no shortage here, and again, since most of these games are trapped on a dead console, fans will be lining up to grab them.
Unfortunately, there are no plans for any classic consoles. The closest we have is the Legend of Zelda Game & Watch. Still, it's nice to dream, and maybe someday the fans will get to play so many beloved games from a truly golden age in handheld gaming.
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Sara is the Freelance Coordinator, writer, and editor at iMore. When not editing or writing away, she's glued to her Nintendo Switch, Xbox, or PS5, though she's a retro gamer at heart.