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Happy Belated Birthday, Game Boy... Pocket! - Retro Revolution

Posted on Monday, September 26 @ 13:50:55 Eastern by KevinS


So the way my brain works, today I was sitting in my office and a thought popped into my head: The Game Boy was released in the States back in 1989, but when was the GBPocket released? It's my favorite incarnation of the system. The screen is black and white and as crisp as any other portable ever has been; it's tiny enough for my pocket (hence the name, I'd guess); and the GB library goes along with it. Even with the hatred I have for finding and keeping AAA batteries, I love my little Ice Blue bastard. And, as it turns out, it was let loose in the US in early 1996, making it 15 years old here in short order.

Which brings me to the topic... re-released consoles. Are they just another way for Company X to make more of the same, occasionally hike up the price or strip out features, and make serious extra bank in the process? Yes. Yes, it is. But what's great is that sometimes the product is made better for it; case in point, the GBPocket. Much of the time, there's hoopla about the idea of remodeling a familiar face and pushing it back into the public's hands.

Most of the timeespecially back in the early days of remodels like the Atari 2600they're done simply to make the experience more clean, easy to work. Making a four-switch VCS from a heavy-sixer isn't a huge deal, just a slight tweak. It's the same sort of experience with the Intellivision or the Game Boy; just a variation on the platform that keeps the overall experience essentially the same, but a few adjustments made on either the size or the projection (like the NES2's AV output). Some systems don't need one, but hey, let's remake the experience anyway (*cough*SNES*cough*Genesis*cough*) just to make what was once a bit of an eyesore into something more aesthetically pleasing. I don't don't know why the SNES had to be so awkwardly angular, but it didn't bother me enough to buy the SNES2 released a few years later.



Lately, though, revisions have more often than not been done to not only cheapen production costs, but remove functionality. Recently, Nintendo let out of the bag that a redesigned Wii was releasing in Europe without any of its former Gamecube functionality. It's the same move a few years later when Sony made with their remodeling of the PS3 and removing the PS2 functionality (which still bums me out). Microsoft didn't take such a notable step (there were only two damn games backwards compatible in the first place), but they did re-release the 360 with both a massive and smaller hard disc on board. Remember the Arcade pack that they sold without any hard drive at all? Dumb, right?

Everyone's guilty of it. Hell, Nintendo built a friggin' sales model out of re-launching the same thing a hundred times: Game Boy, Play It Loud Game Boys with different colors and transparent casings, Pocket, GB Lite, various Game Boy Colors and special editions of all of the above… yeesh, I just wanted to play Pokémon, guys. But at least they were kept somewhat standard.

Does a company constantly reselling re-imagining the look and playability of their console, though, hurt the market at all? Why complain if there's not a problem? I think it has always been inherently frustrating; I don't want to be coaxed into buying another variation of the same thing when I can see something new on the horizon, whether a month/year/five years away. I know it's just a ploy to get collectors like me excited ("YAY, new variation! This one's gonna be rare in 15 years!") and, to be honest, it does. But I'm not crazy. I swear I'm not crazy. I just get sick of thinking about how I own essentially the same thing ten times.

Put some of that "effort" into making me a new game, and we're in business. Otherwise, just let me enjoy my uniform console.


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