The Game Boy Color (ゲームボーイカラー Gēmu Bōi Karā?), referred to as GBC, is a handheld game console manufactured by Nintendo. It was released on October 21, 1998 in Japan and was released in November of the same year in international markets. It is the successor of the Game Boy.
The Game Boy Color, as suggested by the name, features a color screen, but no backlight. It is slightly thicker and taller than the Game Boy Pocket, which is a redesigned Game Boy released in 1996. As with the original Game Boy, it has an 8-bit processor and the custom Zilog Z80 central processing unit (CPU). The original name – with its American English spelling of “color” – remained unchanged even in markets where “colour” was the accepted English spelling.
While mostly retaining the same hardware as the original Game Boy, the Game Boy Color’s primary competitors were the much more advanced Neo Geo Pocket by SNK and the WonderSwan by Bandai (released in Japan only), though the Game Boy Color outsold these by a huge margin. The Game Boy and Game Boy Color combined have sold 118.69 million units worldwide. It was discontinued in 2003, shortly after the release of the Game Boy Advance SP.
The Game Boy Color was a response to pressure from game developers for a more sophisticated handheld platform, as they felt that the Game Boy, even in its latest incarnation, the Game Boy Pocket, was insufficient. The resultant product was backward compatible, a first for a handheld system, and leveraged the large library of games and great installed base of the predecessor system. This became a major feature of the Game Boy line, since it allowed each new launch to begin with a significantly larger library than any of its competitors.
The last Game Boy Color game released in Japan that was also compatible with the Game Boy and Super Game Boy was From TV Animation – One Piece: Maboroshi no Grand Line Boukenhen! (July 2002). The last Game Boy and Super Game Boy compatible game released there was Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 (September 2001). The last North American Game Boy Color-exclusive game, however, was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Although it was released on different consoles, the Game Boy Color featured an exclusive version.
With the release of the Nintendo 3DS the Virtual Console service is also available for the 3DS and it allows players to play games from the Game Boy and Game Boy Color. More games for both systems have also been planned for release on the 3DS.