The Game Boy took the world by storm when it came out in 1989 as the first consumer-ready 8-bit handheld console. Not only was the form factor a hit, the catalog of games was stunning. At a time before the internet enabled indie game development, more than 1,000 games were created for the original Game Boy. Now you can see the start screens — complete with intro music — from all those games in this single three-hour YouTube video. You don’t have to watch the whole thing, but you might kind of want to.
The start screen video is organized in alphabetical order. So you’ve got your Amazing Spider-Man close to the beginning and WWF wrestling way at the end. Somewhere in the middle are Mario and The Legend of Zelda. The video showcases the layout of the start screen along with any animations that play if you leave it sit long enough. For example, Spider-Man having a little phone chat with Mysterio or a few Pokémon battling it out. Once the music loops, it’s on to the next screen.
I think the most surprising thing is the quality of some of the animations. It’s not like the Game Boy had a ton of pixels — it was only 160×144. However, the reflective STN type monochrome LCD used on the Game Boy had pretty good contrast. It helped designers fake shading to make objects look less like featureless blobs. The sound was limited to a single 4-bit PCM wave channel, but game makers managed to coax a lot of recognizable melodies out of that tiny speaker.
So climb on into this time machine and experience a healthy dose of nostalgia. Later, maybe you can swing by a thrift store and find a working original Game Boy. You know you want to.