The Nintendo Game Boy was first released in Japan in April 1989. It was an 8-bit handheld, portable console, developed by the same team responsible for the iconic "Nintendo Game & Watch" series of single-game LCD hardware, including Gunpei Yokoi and the rest of the team at Nintendo R&D1. The console followed Nintendo's famous design goals of doing interesting things with affordable commodity hardware. The Game Boy's main CPU was a slightly customised Sharp LR35902 running at 4.19MHz, which was similar to the Intel 8080 and Z80, but missing some of the higher end functions. Performance wise, this CPU was not much more powerful than graphing calculators available at the time, and was optimised for fast moving graphics, being able to push a 160x144 pixel screen with 4 greyscale shades at 59.7 frames per second. Nintendo opted for 4 AA batteries as the console's portable power source, but also included a DC power jack port to optionally power the console, albeit tethered to a power source. Nintendo cited officially that fresh AA batteries would power it for "10-30 hours", although in reality it was far closer to the low end of that range. All the same, even with a budget set aside for fresh batteries, the Game Boy was a game changer for any kid on a long, boring car trip with the family. Nintendo saw great first and third party support for their console, with many developers understanding the "cut down" nature of the Game Boy. Games ported from other systems compensated for the smaller screen resolution by cropping the playfield, giving a "zoomed in" appearance to many titles. Additionally, developers did well to offer save abilities or simple game play that dealt with the idea of "pick up and play" well. Especially in Japan where time away from home and on public transport dominates most of the day, the console took off, and sales soared. The system wasn't without faults. The power drain was one, and the other was the console's LCD screen that was almost impossible to see in low light. While it wasn't so bad out and about in daylight, if you were at home of an evening, it meant finding a good over-the-shoulder light source to play under. Those long car trips also became less fun as soon as the sun dropped. Nintendo brought out slightly modified hardware in the following years. The Nintendo Game Boy Pocket was a slightly smaller model in case dimensions, but sported a similar sized screen that was a little clearer. It was powered by 2 AAA batteries, and without a substantially shortened play life either. Japan got an exclusive "Game Boy Light" which included a backlit screen. 9 years after the original Game Boy was released, Nintendo brought to market the Game Boy Color in 1998. Sporting a slightly different CPU with the full Z80 instruction set, and also a maximum speed of 8MHz (twice as fast as the original Game Boy). The CPU could boot into a backwards compatible mode and run any of the original Game Boy titles. As the name suggested, the Game Boy Color could now run games in colour, with 10, 32 or 56 colours on screen at once (depending on the graphics mode chosen) from a total palette of 32K (16bit) colours. The console was slightly more power efficient, requiring only 2 AA batteries (half of what the original Game Boy required), and offering roughly the same battery life. The device held custom colour palettes for known legacy Game Boy games, or if they weren't known there was a default palette loaded at boot that the user could change by cycling through with the dpad at the GBC bios/logo screen. Games released around this time often allowed switching between GB and GBC mode to be backwards compatible, with a handful of late model games opting to be GBC only and take advantage of the faster CPU. Sadly the GBC still sported a non-lit screen. And while it kept battery life down, it did mean that the problems of low-light playing plagued the units. Several third party hardware devices at the time offered a front-light solution, however they were often bulky, ugly, and power hungry. PAL vs NTSC, import playing Thankfully the GB and GBC were both universal devices. The built in display meant that the console's graphics was not tied to TV standards of the time. Likewise there was no region locking on either unit, so import playing was a breeze (as long as you could read or work around the language of the in-game text). Playing the system today Due to the enormous popularity of the GB and GBC (118 million units sold), finding second hand hardware is a breeze. Original units are still affordable even on eBay, and can often still be found in pawn shops locally. Nintendo's commitment to backwards compatibility is also quite excellent. I'll avoid talking too much about the Game Boy Advance (GBA) console here, but plenty of GBA solutions overlap with GB/GBC solutions due to the shared cartridge pin count, and backwards compatibility of that system. So until I can write a GBA FAQ in depth, for now I'll mention that all models of the GBA hardware are 100% backwards compatible with both the GB and GBC. The Nintendo DS and DS Lite, despite having a cartridge slot that physically fits GB/GBC cartridges, is not compatible. Nintendo released a "Super Game Boy" addon for the Super Nintendo. It was an all-hardware solution that crammed GB/GBC internals into a cartridge, and allowed playing that on a SNES. PAL gamers lose out here, with the console slowed down to 50FPS for PAL TVs. NTSC gamers get the opposite - a slightly sped up game from the original clock speed. Nintendo rectified this with the Japanese-only Super Game Boy 2, with a more accurate clock. Third party mods are available for the US original version to make the playback more accurate. The Super Game Boy also offers a wide range of custom palette options to improve both GB and GBC colour choices. Nintendo released a "Game Boy Player" addon for their Nintendo Game Cube console. It was a physical device that connected in underneath the Game Cube, and allowed for GB, GBC and GBA cartridges to be physically inserted into the unit. It required a boot disk to go with it that is unfortunately rare, and prices for it are beginning to climb (despite the hardware being quite cheap). However, the homebrew community has come to the rescue, and offers software titled "Game Boy Interface" (GBI). Even better, GBI offers several more accurate and clearer modes compared to the muddy picture of the original boot disk, and slight game studder as the official mode struggled to make the 59.7 FPS GB games work smoothly at ~60FPS. https://www.retrorgb.com/gameboyinterface.html https://www.gc-forever.com/wiki/index.php?title=Game_Boy_Interface And of course Nintendo offer numerous games via their official "Virtual Console" service on 2DS and 3DS hardware. Due to the low power of the GB/GBC, these are easily playable on the regular 2DS/3DS as well as the "New" 2DS/3DS hardware. Emulation quality on these is up to Nintendo's usual excellent standard. Hardware modding Game Boy modding typically involves changes to the screen or case. Screen mods come in a variety of flavours, including backlit, bivert and other mods. Aussie hardware hacker Ben Venn has an online store with plenty of options for addons, mods, hacks and even tools to dump and re-program cartridges: https://bennvenn.myshopify.com/ New to the GBA scene is the "GBA consolizer". Again, I'll avoid going into the GBA in depth, however it will mod any real GBA hardware so that it can display out to a HDMI capable TV, and take a SNES controller for input. This is another great, new addition for playing GB and GBC games on a larger and clearer screen, albeit sacrificing portability of your original console. Flash cartridges, clone cartridges The famous Krikzz offers the famous "Everdrive" flash cartridges that are GB and GBC. Similar to other models, games are loaded onto a MicroSD card, and can be chosen from a menu. Several models exist that vary in price and features: https://krikzz.com/store/ And a second mention of Ben Venn. His "Joey Joe Bags" device can flash Chinese clone cartridges with new game images. Not as flexible as a Krikzz flash cart, however when clone cartridges can be bought for a few dollars, it still works out pretty well. https://bennvenn.myshopify.com/ And of course, all your usual spots have clone cartridges for sale. AliExpress and eBay are full of them. Clone hardware Interestingly enough, there's not much in the way of competent GB / GBC clone hardware out there. Certainly not any that will take real cartridges. Several GBA clones exist, although it's difficult to find solid reviews of them because the manufacturers aren't well advertised. Some of these are backwards compatible with real GB/GBC games, some not. AliExpress and others are full of handheld emulator devices that come pre-loaded with games (or offer MicroSD card addon for loading ROMs). While quite capable, these carry all the usual caveats of emulation, which may or may not bother you depending on your own requirements and/or the specific games you like to play. FPGA hardware similation Analogue's Nt Mini console was originally released as a NES FPGA clone, however with "jailbreak" firmware supports both GB and GBC gameplay. The open source MiSTer FPGA project supports GB and GBC playback, although a handful of compatibility problems still exist. Recent scaler enhancements allow it to be played back quite well on both low resolution CRT and high resolution digital flat screens like LCDs and OLEDs. Emulation Due to the GB and GBCs relatively simple hardware, emulation for both platforms has existed for a long time. Popular frontends like RetroArch support several competent emulators, and these have been ported to all sorts of devices new and old (even low end hardware like the Nintendo DS can play GB/GBC games at full speed via emulation). As always, Byuu's excellent Higan emulator includes a GB/GBC core, which has very recently been updated to pass even the strictest of compatibility tests. While not as fast as other emulators, it exceeds everything else in accuracy. Worth using as a test on a desktop computer if you feel your other emulation options aren't working as expected.