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the Gameboy Pocket enjoyed mass appeal and huge sales, the black and white handheld was becoming rapidly more and more outdated with every passing year.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.

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25 Responses To Your Friend Who Doesn't Text Back

Omg thanks for responding so quickly...oh, wait.
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We all have that friend. That friend we love to death, but if we are sure of anything in this world, it’s that they will not respond to your text because they suck at texting. That moment when you see “Read 1:04 p.m.” and you’re like “and???? Helloooooooo!”

These are 25 responses for that dear friend.

1. Lol thanks for tagging me in that FB post, now text me tf back.


2. OMG, wait you met Chris Hemsworth and he’s professing his love to you??!! No? Okay, then you can def text me back.

3. Hey I’m coming to help you since you obviously broke your thumbs and can’t respond.

4. Lolol thanks for responding. I’ll just continue the conversation with myself. That’s cool.

5. Good chat.

6. Yeah I wouldn’t know how to respond either, pizza topping selection is a thought-provoking process. Take your time. Meditate on it.

7. The classic: ^^^^^^^^^


8. I hope you’re writing me the 8th Harry Potter novel.

9. That was a yes or no question. This isn’t difficult. You wouldn’t do well with ‘Sophie’s Choice.’

10. Omg, did you pass out from the excitement of getting a text from me? Totally understandable. Text me when you regain consciousness, love.

11. Omg what a witty and clever response. Nothing. So philosophical.

12. The only excuse I’ll accept is if you’re eating guac and don’t want to get it on your phone. Because avocados are life.

13. I love it when you do that adorable thing when you don’t text me back for hours. So cute.


14. Okay I’ll answer for you. Yes, you’re going out tonight. Glad we had this convo.

15. In the time it has taken you to respond, dinosaurs could have retaken the earth.

16. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA

17. The dramatic but also very valid response: That’s what happens when you don’t respond for 30 minutes. People die.


18. I apologize for asking if you were coming to watch Bachelor, clearly the decision has caused you serious reflection on your priorities. I’m sorry to have caused you this existential crisis.

19. Sorry I annoyed you with my friendship. But like plz respond…

20. Your response time is longer than Ross and Rachel’s entire relationship. 10 seasons. You couldn’t text me back for 10 seasons?!!

21. Wait. You’re responding too fast. I can’t keep up. Hang on. Don’t respond so quickly. Jeez.

22. A subtle but perfectly placed gif. What will you go with? The classic eye roll perhaps or maybe a “you suck.”


23. Did you fall off a cliff? Wait, you don’t exercise. Pause your Netflix and respond b*tch.

24. Omg I WON THE LOTTERY. *responds* Lol now you respond…

25. And my personal favorite and go to, Did you text me and then decide to THROW YOUR PHONE ACROSS THE OCEAN?! Lol swim fast, I need an answer.

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6 reasons why the importance of libraries transcends both technology and Privilege

Believe it or not, libraries are more relevant than ever.

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Being in the middle of 2018, we're living in the age many would dub "the future." The past decade, technology has changed the way we study, conduct research, keep up with the news, write, and read. While the convenience and innovation of technology has been largely positive, it's caused us to question the relevance of a good old-fashioned public library. And while this is a valid quandary, our access to technology is also often a matter of privilege. After all, digital reading and media sources are not as universal as a physical library space. In any case, it's clear that the presence of libraries is vital and irreplaceable, regardless of society's increase in technology and financial privilege.

Libraries are the ideal option for low-income readers.

Although the public book-lending cornucopias we call libraries are relatively universal, they sometimes seem to be hidden in plain sight. Likely, this can be accredited to the fact that many modern consumers have the financial means to purchase new books and E-readers. As satisfying as it can be to splurge on a new book at Barnes and Noble from time to time, this luxury is not available to everyone. And it is a luxury-- new paperback books are seldom under $15.00, and hardcover books often cost at least $30.00. E-readers, on the other hand, can cost up to $200, and the tablets many of us use to read cost many times more. And while many people could afford this, many others (particularly avid readers) understandably couldn't. Those who see libraries as irrelevant forget that low income families and individuals rely on libraries to borrow books for school, for research, or for the unadulterated enjoyment of a novel.

Libraries provide access to new media.

Beyond traditional carbon-based books, libraries house a plethora of audio books, digital resources, and movies for anyone to enjoy. Although subscriptions to audio book apps, digital news media, and video streaming are widely used, some of us may find that we either can't afford all of these subscriptions or merely won't use them enough for what they cost. In any case, free digital sources are always a viable option for anyone who may need them, whether to substitute or to just supplement the services at our fingertips. Aside from these digital resources, most public libraries are equipped with computers that patrons can use to surf the internet or create documents. If an unemployed individual needs a computer to fill out online applications or draft a resume, the library is always available to them.

Libraries host a wide array of free community events.

Aside from hosting book clubs and book signings for various ages, libraries host workshops across topics, from genealogy, to robotics, to screenwriting. These can provide free fun for all ages and help build a stronger sense of community, particularly for children and young adults. Academically, children can benefit from reading and math clubs, and storytime-style reading events are available for children as young as newborns. For adults, libraries often host free workshops in topics like business and financial literacy. Typically, bilingual workshops are available in public libraries for non-native English speakers, and English lessons and seminars are not uncommon either.

Libraries are an inclusive public space.

With very few exceptions, most public spaces won't allow individuals to sit down, read, work, or use the restroom in their facilities without making a purchase. Since libraries are for everyone, anyone can come and go as they please without being kicked to the curb. This is especially important for people who may not have anywhere else to go, such as the homeless or children from neglectful homes.

Utilizing the library motivates us to keep reading.

For those of us who wish for more time to read, the pending due date of a library book is key to holding us accountable and pacing ourselves as readers. Even if you need to use a renewal, the presence of any deadline will motivate you to finish your book. Visiting the library to return and check out books regularly makes the process of finishing books quick, natural, and routine in a way that digital platforms of reading don't provide. In a world dominated by visual entertainment and social media, it's more important than ever to prioritize basic literacy and keep reading.

The library is timeless.

Overall, libraries remain one of the most inclusive and rich public learning spaces. Although the idea of a library is, in itself, rather ancient, libraries have a way of holding true to their original purpose while evolving and acclimating to our culture. Regardless of our technological advances, the accessibility and value of these spaces is truly timeless.

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