Game Boy and Game Boy Advance Technical Details and Trivia


  • Cartridge slot for inserting a Nintendo "GamePak" game cartridge - Nintendo recommend leaving a cartridge in the slot to prevent dust buildup in the slot
  • Volume control dial
  • 4 operation buttons - A, B, SELECT and START - and a D-pad
  • ON/OFF switch
  • Battery compartment - for 4 x AA batteries
  • External DC power socket - can plug in either external rechargeable battery pack or AC adapter. Requires 6V @ 150mA
  • Headphone jack - 3.5mm stereo jack socket
  • EXT connector - used to connect two Game Boys together with a link cable, or the Game Boy Printer.



Technical Facts

  • The main CPU in the Game Boy is the Sharp LR35902, a Zilog Z80-compatible microprocessor. Some instructions, however, are new to the Sharp version, including its capability for sound generation built-in. It differs though in that it contained none of the Z80's 16-bit instructions and it has almost all of its registers removed.
  • Game Boy can use 256K, 512K, 1MB, 2MB, 4MB or 8MB cartridges.
  • Game Boy only has a single speaker (thus mono sound), but the headphone jack provides stereo sound.
  • The Game Boy Pocket has a smaller EXT connector which requires an adapter to use the link cable with an older Game Boy.
  • The Game Boy Pocket has a larger screen (2.56" diagonally) than its successor, the Game Boy Color (2.32" diagonally).
  • Like its predecessor, the original Game Boy, the Pocket has no backlight although it does have a much better pixel response time, virtually eliminating video ghosting which was a problem with the original Game Boy..
  • The Game Boy was relatively easy to develop for. This was due to its [modified] Z80 CPU, which was already familiar to developers who came across from many years of programming the Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum. The screen architecture was simple with a single character mapped screen that you could scroll.



  • The Game Boy supposedly is able to provide up to 30 hours of gaming on a single set of 4 x AA batteries.
  • In 1995, Nintendo launched the 'Play it Loud!' campaign with a variety of special Game Boy models with coloured cases, including red, green, black, yellow, white, blue and clear (transparent). This set a precedent for future Game Boy models (and other consoles in general) to feature different coloured units. Play it Loud versions can be identified not just from the case colour - these versions have a darker border than the normal Grey Game Boy with the exception of Play it Loud units in black.
  • The first Game Boy Pockets did not come with a power LED. It was added due to customer demand, at the same time when the different coloured units were being introduced.
  • The sound chip actually had a 'user wave table', with just 20 4-bit entries. If you could refresh it quickly enough the Game Boy could play sampled sounds. In addition to the sound chip, it also had an FM synthesizer / noise generator chip.
  • Nintendo actually developed an accessory called the 'Work Boy' which featured a mini keyboard and a cartridge that held programs including a calendar, measurement conversion tool and phone book. It was never released.
  • The Game Boy wasn't the first machine to use interchangable games cartridges - that honour goes to Milton Bradley's Microvision, released in 1979.