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On Its 25th Birthday, Game Boy Is Alive And Well In The Art World

We take a look back at some of the best art inspired by the officially-antique handheld console.
April 21, 2014, 10:40pm
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It was the best of times for our brains, and the worst of times for our button-mashed fingers: 25 years ago today Nintendo gave us the first Game Boy, and two-and-a-half decades later, the world continues to use the console like gangbusters. Born from the hybrid minds of Nintendo Research & Development 1 and late gaming legend Gunpei Yokoi, the smooth, plastic device no longer resembles the sandwich-sized chalk block that was its first incarnation, but still Game Boy remains a fixture on long car rides and plane trips the world over.

Everyone loves Game Boy, which makes it unsurprising that it's become the inspiration for many an artmaking practice. What is surprising, however, are the successes of its results. With a nostalgic tear in our eye (caused by the dust blown out of our Pokémon Yellow cartridges), join us as we look back at some of our favorite Game Boy-influenced art:

Sulumi Makes 8-Bit Dance Beats

Shanshui Records' owner and operator is a chiptune guru named Sulumi. Best-known for making 8-bit tones into electro techno, by running hacked Game Boy cartridges into a computer, the producer takes the 25-year young technology and radically transforms it into something new. Claiming to learn most from the other collaborators on Shanshui Records, Sulumi is without a doubt one of the most exciting young byte-benders. To learn more about Sulumi, click here.

Game Boy De-Makes!

Back in 2007, the good folks on the Pixelation forums decided to hold a good old Mockup Frenzy, invited pixel-lovers the world over to contribute to their running bank of "de-makes," mockups of "next-gen" games made for the 2D Game Boy console. Above, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. goes lo-res_._ Click to check out the rest of the amazing submissions.

Malcolm McLaren Discovers Chiptune

As the legend goes, the first time the Sex Pistols former manager heard Game Boy music he turned to then-collaborators Jacques Fantino andThierry Criscioneand exclaimed, "It sounds ugly... but this music is so beautiful!" McLaren would then go on to make the widely-contested claim that chiptune was punk, "the next step in the evolution of rock and roll." Read McLaren's original article in Wired, and see how the late great's thoughts stack up to this Game Boy-made Daft Punk remix by Br1ght Pr1mate.

Custom Game Boys by Thretris

The self-described "Gameboy Artist" has been blowing our minds with wildly inventive console mods since he first debuted the "Sculpted Brick" Game Boy faceplate in 2009. Above, the "Steampunk Gameboy" has our thumbs quivering. Check out more of Thretris' mindblowing mods on deviantArt.

The Other Game Boy Music

In 2011, we wrote about YouTuber MrSeberi, who used the portable console as an acoustic percussion instrument—"tapping buttons, throwing the cartridges down, pulling and pushing the power cord or camera in and out, and switching the power button on and off to create a lo-fi music medley." We couldn't have said it better our—oh, wait...

On this special day, as you blip out to the Game Boy sounds of Anamanaguchi and reflect on what Game Boy has meant to you over the years, post your favorite Nintendo memories in the comments below. Only a bright future remains ahead of Nintendo Game Boy, especially since it officially hit its quarter-life crisis era.


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