Game Boy

From Video Game Music Preservation Foundation Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Platform - GB.png
Game Boy
Game Boy.jpg
Released: 1989-04-21
Discontinued: 2003-03-23
Developer: Nintendo
Type: Hardware

The Game Boy is a portable gaming device created by Nintendo. It features a 160x144 resolution 4 shade grayscale display, cartridge game system, stereo sound (though headphones), and controls similar to the already popular Nintendo Entertainment System. It was first released in Japan on April 21, 1989, in North American on July 31, 1989, and in Europe on September 28, 1990.

The Game Boy came with a pack-in title, Tetris (GB). The console was also region-free, meaning any games from any region are compatible with any Game Boy. Later, there were Game Boy Color cartridges released in black which could be played on an original Game Boy in monochrome.

The Game Boy was succeeded by the Game Boy Color, though both used the same sound hardware.



The Game Boy was reworked by Nintendo a few times to keep it relevant as it aged in the handheld market. Despite the changes to the look, the audio chip remained the same through each model.

Released Model Notes
1989-04-21 Game Boy The initial full-sized gray design.
1995-01-01 Game Boy - Play It Loud! Same hardware, but various colored cases.
1996-??-?? Game Boy Pocket A smaller case, more crisp display, lower power consumption.
1998-04-14 Game Boy Light Backlit design, more power efficient.

Music and Sound

The Game Boy's primary CPU is the DMG-CPU B which contains a built-in programmable sound generator (PSG) capable of 2 square waves, 1 programmable 32-sample 4-bit PCM wave, 1 white noise channel, and one audio input from the cartridge. The Game Boy was advertised with stereo sound, but the unit only has one speaker. However, headphones can be plugged in to hear stereo sound.

Similar to the NES, most composers had to write the music in assembly, using the modified Z80 processor instruction set of the Game Boy. However, as the years passed, more composers started writing music in Music Macro Language, and later converters for trackers and MIDI files were made by developers for easy implementation.