Happiness is… Old School Love, Retro Games (xxii)

5 Jun

GB 02 I’ve had a Game Boy since it was first released in the eighties. I was fortunate to have an aunt who lived in Japan so the very first one I owned was sent in as a gift for my siblings and me. She then brought home a couple more (a second fat one and a pocket version) when she came back to visit with her kids. Somehow, I ended up with all of them, perhaps because of the five of us, I was the one most addicted to them.

In my adolescence, I met a young man who shared many of my interests and obsessions. Nintendo was one of them. And while he was not my “first love” as I was not his (we were just great friends in high school), it was our shared history that led us to rediscover one another as we transitioned into young adults. Almost 34 years of friendship later, 24 of those married to each other, he and I continue to hold many of the same passions in life, Nintendo still being one of them.

When it comes to handheld consoles, I’ve owned almost all iterations of the Game Boy line. I’ve gone from the original gray, monochromatic, fat Game Boy to the Pocket and Color versions, all gifts from my favorite gaming partner. I shared the GB Advance with my eldest son because we could only afford one then (and the son wanted it so much he bombarded the North Pole with daily letters to Santa). My husband later made up for this injustice (hehehe) by giving us individual GB Advance SPs- a blue one for our son and a pearly pink one for me. Despite the many Nintendo upgrades I’ve had since then, jumping from the GB platform to the DS systems, I still have a fully functional, sleek Game Boy Micro, also A♥’s gift, tucked away in my games box for safekeeping. Just because.GB 01

Last night, when he came home, my husband handed me a small bag. Since my birthday last week, he has been handing me gifts every day. The day before last, he gave me Hello Kitty bento tools and a Blythe doll. Before that, he gave me a light blue Gameboy Advance, more dolls, and the Sims4 gaming CD. I had made him promise not to go overboard with gifts this year because I already knew what I was getting for my birthday (a trip!). Alas, he’s still a little stubborn when it comes to this. (Not that I’m complaining.)

He looked at me expectantly as I opened the bag. Normally, I like to indulge his enthusiasm with some heartfelt squeals but I was a bit surprised when I saw what was inside. It was a fat Gameboy, one very much like the old one we still have in one of our bottom drawers. I looked at him funny, my smile turning upside down.

“Try it out, try it out,” he insisted. “Turn it on and see,” he egged.

And so I did. This is what I found:


This is an original 1989 Gameboy model DMG-01 modded with a screen that came from the Gameboy Advance SP AGS-101. (Insert squeals here.) My husband was right. As soon as Tetris came on, I could not put the Game Boy down!

“I still have my Tetris moves,” I bragged to my chuckling husband. Pretty soon, I was all praises for his ingenious gift. Now you know why my gaming partner is my best friend. He knows me really well. 🙂

This mod plays Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. (Hello Kitty Cube Frenzy, here I come!) While its insides are GBA, it does not play GB Advance games for two reasons; one, the visual window can not accommodate the entire screen and two, its port only allows the insertion of basic Nintendo cartridges. The contrast slider no longer works (there is no need for it) but everything else does. The speakers are amazingly crisp and clear, loud too. For me, however, the second coolest thing about it is that it no longer uses batteries. The genius who modded it, a young friend of my husband who goes by the name Hai Hai (thank you!), gutted the innards and replaced it with the SP’s motherboard and rechargeable battery.

For the first time in weeks, I was able to put down my 3DS last night to play something other than Story of Seasons. Lost in the game, I found myself humming to the Tetris theme all night. (That song- “Tetris Type A theme,” a mesmerizing version of the 19th century Russian folk tune Korobeiniki– how do I even get rid of Tetris LSS when it’s been playing in my mind for years?)

Once in a while, however, I paused my game and reached over the other side of our bed to give my gaming partner a kiss. It felt strangely comforting to share these moments with the best friend I grew up with, the very same person I shared so many other Game Boy moments with. And it felt absolutely right.

Old school love and retro games, what’s not to celebrate?


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