Why The Gameboy Color Used Two Cartridge Types

Why The Gameboy Color Used Two Cartridge Types

Many of us remember both the clear and solid cartridges, but what was the difference?
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In 1998 Nintendo released its official follow-up to the wildly successful Gameboy from 1989, the Gameboy Color. While the Gameboy and its slimmed down, gussied up refinement the Gameboy Pocket enjoyed mass appeal and huge sales, the black and white handheld was becoming rapidly more and more outdated with every passing year. As Nintendo toyed with the idea of a portable Super Nintendo, something that would later be realized with the Gameboy Advance and Gameboy Advance SP in the 2000s, they knew that they had to develop and release something new in order to keep the Gameboy line alive.

Enter the Gameboy Color. A full-color screen, a processor with a clock speed that doubled that of its predecessor and about three times as much RAM as the Gameboy. The Color allowed not only a greater visual palette in terms of the colors available to developers, but also gave way to better animations (thankfully fixing the original’s issues with ghosting images during object movement) and more complex pixel art. It also had one essential feature that would define the Gameboy family up until its final system in the form of the Gameboy Micro; backwards compatibility.

All game cartridges released from 1989 to 1998 for the original, black and white Gameboy would work when slotted into the Color. Not only that but the better screen and power under the hood actually helped to clean up visuals that may have looked muddy on the antiquated display of the original. This helped to give the Gameboy Color a wide breadth of available content out the gate, alongside its three launch titles, “Wario Land II,” “Pocket Bomberman,” and “Tetris DX.”

Many games (especially later ones) released for the Gameboy Color differentiated themselves visually from the older cartridges through a clear plastic design that allowed a glimpse at the actual board itself, and a curving bubble of sorts at the top. Original Gameboy cartridges were rectangular, with a small notch taken out of the upper right-hand corner to allow for the power switch to be moved into the on position (an attempt to combat bootleg games), and were a solid gray color. The gray cartridges were compatible with the Color, but obviously still displayed in their original black and white. The clear cartridges of the Color worked specifically on the Color, taking full advantage of the system’s increased power and color palette.

There was, however, the second kind of Gameboy Color cartridge. One that kept the shape and solid plastic design of the original Gameboy, but came in Gameboy Color boxes, played in full color on the new system and opted (usually) for black plastic as opposed to the gray. This was the cartridge style of the three launch titles such as “Tetris DX.” For the kids that grew up with the 1989 original this difference might have been more obvious, but for those who started with the Color like myself, the real reasoning for this difference was often lost. As a child, I, and many of my friends simply didn’t think much about the difference in cartridge designs or just chalked it up to cosmetics. To us, it was probably just some aesthetic choice made by the developers (or “the people who made this game” to more accurately represent how we described game companies as kids).

The black cartridges (sometimes gold or silver) actually had a special design quirk in terms of their compatibility. While the gray cartridges that were the main format of the original Gameboy were backward compatible with the Color, the black cartridges were actually retroactively compatible with the Gameboy and Gameboy Pocket. When slotted normally into the GBC these games displayed their full-color palettes, as expected, but when slotted into a 1989-1997 GB system they actually worked and reverted to a black and white color scheme. For those that grew up with the Gameboy first this might have been an interesting little detail found alongside their new system, but to myself and several of my friends who never actually had the first Gameboy and, therefore, could not stumble upon this feature naturally, it was a bizarre revelation.

I actually discovered this when I recently began collecting various Gameboy models. I sat there and puzzled over the reasons for the various cartridge designs before noticing how the power switch fit into the notch on the old cartridges (my brother and I had often wondered about that weird little cut out of the plastic when we were younger). Feeling a bit experimental I took my newly unboxed Gameboy and slid in my copy of “Pokemon Gold,” a Gameboy Color game from 2000, over a decade after the first system’s initial release. “Gold” was a game I adored as a child and had only ever experienced in its full-color version on the GBC, so, when the familiar music began playing and the start-up screen booted up in black and white I was more than a little taken aback.

At first, I felt like an idiot for never having realized or come across this little “fun fact” feature, but after several excited texts and calls to my friends, I found that I was far from alone in my ignorance. It was new information to each of them. Thinking back on it now it should have been fairly obvious. GBC games like “Link’s Awakening DX” and “Tetris DX” were just colored, enhanced versions of black and white Gameboy games re-released on the Color, retaining the shape and basic look of their older cartridges. The games that were released for the GBC in the clear plastic shells, without the power switch notch, likely took full advantage of the Color’s increased technical specs and graphical prowess, barring them from being able to run on that first system even in black and white. This allowed games like the aforementioned “Pokemon Gold” to not only run on their associated system and be backwards compatible on future handhelds in the Gameboy family such as the Advance and Advance SP but also allowed them to be played on the previously released hardware like the Gameboy, Gameboy Pocket, and Gameboy Light. This meant that those cartridges could be played on every single Gameboy ever released (with the exception of the niche product the Micro) from 1989 all the way up to 2003.

A small childhood mystery solved by a moment of curiosity almost two decades later.

Cover Image Credit: i.ytimg.com

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Cell Phones And Our Communication

How Our Obsession With These Devices Has Changed Society
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There are almost as many cell phone subscriptions (6.8 billion) as there are people in the world, which is 7 billion. Everyone in our society has experienced the impacts of cell phones and the evolution of them. The evolution of the cell phone, the apps we have on our phones, and how social media impacts mental health and everyday lives all go into how cell phones have forever changed our communication with the world.

Cell phones did not always look like the phones we have today, they have changed drastically throughout the years. The first mobile phone was a Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, released on April 3, 1973. This weighed about 2 pounds, took 10 hours to recharge, and held 30 numbers. It cost $4,000.

Then came the first pocket-sized cell phone, a Nokia 6110, released in December of 1997. This was actually the first phone to have features such as games, calculators, currency converters, and calendars and marketed to the general population. And of course, came the first modern smartphone on June 29, 2007; the iPhone by Apple.

This was the stepping stone into the world of cell phone technology we have today. Today, 77% of Americans own a smartphone, while 92% of 18-29-year-olds own one. Actually, more people have a cell phone than they do a toilet. Shocking right? Modern smartphones have allowed humans to communicate with anyone in the world instantly.

150 years ago it would take the Pony Express 10 days to deliver a letter from Missouri to California. Now, that would take just seconds to send a text message. Texting today has divided people into two groups: iMessage and SMS. Those without iMessage capable devices are sometimes excluded from group chats.

Not only are we able to communicate through text message, but also applications. In May 2017 there were 2,200,000 apps in the app store. Apps have made us all feel the need to constantly broadcast our lives and have a desire for instant gratification, receiving likes or favorites on what we post. We've become obsessed.

Although, many apps do actually have a functional purpose other than social or entertainment including, fitness, transportation, weather, personal finance, entertainment, etc. Apps like these, and most others, make things more efficient and time-saving for us.

Phones have enabled us to communicate with people from all the way across the world. Communication has improved from taking months for a message to travel across the country in seconds to send across the world. With the mobility of cell phones evolving each day we are able to put them away in our pocket and pull them out as needed.

Texting has also definitely changed our communication skills with face to face people. There are many people today that are uncomfortable having face-to-face conversations with others. Granted, certain things are a lot easier to say over a text rather than saying it in person. People feel that since there is a screen separating them and the person on the other side they are able to say things that they wouldn't normally say. Texting has also changed our grammar ie. “text talk” (LOL, IDK, HMU, U, WUT, SMH). Some of these phrases have even been added to the dictionary.

As you can all see cell phones have come from a 2-pound brick to a light as a feather glass device that has created improvements for our lives but also brought negative things to light. I explained just how the physical cell phone has evolved, how it brought apps to our lives and the impacts they have on us, how cell has made texting mainstream communication instead of face to face conversation, as well as the social awkwardness that they have created for our generation.

I hope with this information, you have a better understanding how cell phones have impacted our lives.

Cover Image Credit: Faye Flam

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Far Cry 5 Impressions

My thoughts on the latest installment in the franchise
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When Far Cry 5 was first announced back in 2017, it caused controversy among gamers and non-gamers alike based on it's setting and antagonists. Some went so far as to say it was a "white genocide simulator" and some native Montanans threatened to hold an armed march, based on the cover art alone. I didn't buy a copy when it released last month, but not for those reasons. The Far Cry series has always delved into controversial issues, so this newest installment doesn't phase me. I was beginning to think that the Far Cry franchise had gone stale, and the subsequently released gameplay videos didn't convince me otherwise. Far Cry 5 looked to be more of the same. My brother rented the game from Redbox last week and he let me try it out when he was finished. After playing through the first few hours, I realized that I was...somewhat right.

For those unaware Far Cry 5 takes place in the fictional Hope County, located in the state of Montana. A fundamentalist doomsday cult, led by pastor Joseph Seed, has risen to power and has influence over the majority of the residents. After several kidnappings and forced baptisms, among other atrocities, the police department is called in to arrest Seed. Things go south and the playable character, simply named "the deputy", is stranded in the isolated Hope County. The new goal is to topple Seed's hierarchy by rescuing and aiding the townsfolk, destroying propaganda, and generally causing as much chaos as possible.

I haven't played through the story( which takes up to 25+ hours to complete) so I can't give my full analysis of the game. I did, however, find some enjoyment in the time I played. First off, the visuals are breathtaking and the music is eerily calming. I could pause the game and listen to the soundtrack when I study if I wanted to! The player can also customize the deputy to their liking; one can choose their gender, race, and clothing before venturing out into the wilderness. Weapons can be customized as well.

Still, I couldn't help but notice some issues. Despite the contemporary American setting, the world feels barren. Plus my suspension of disbelief was broken a few times; if Seed is such a threat, why haven't the feds stepped in? The deputy is a silent protagonist; When other NPCs (non-playable characters) talk to you, it doesn't feel authentic. Rather than having a decent conversation, it sounds as if they're spouting exposition to you. Regarding the gameplay, it hasn't changed much since Far Cry 3 ( released in 2012). You go to an NPC for an assignment, raid and kill a settlement full of bad guys, potentially save some hostages, and save the day! Rinse and repeat... The campaign is an assortment of fetch quests, essentially. Past games in the series have done this, too. I didn't mind then, probably didn't realize it either, but I'm aware of that now and I've graudally grown tired of it. My brother had to return the game, so I didn't play as much of it as would've liked to. Maybe the gameplay improves as one progresses through the story, but from my experience it leaves much to be desired.

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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