When it comes to powering up your portable devices these days, all one really needs to do is plug it in and go. Whether you’re playing on your Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, or Game Boy Advance SP, playing with portable power is a cinch.
However, that wasn’t always the case. Back in 1989 with the launch of the original Game Boy, one factor which helped springboard the technologically inferior portable console over its handheld competition was the fact that it could stretch the life of batteries much further — ten hours or more on four AA batteries (depending on the conditions) versus anywhere from three to five hours on six AA batteries with the rival Game Gear from SEGA, for example.
But while most games for the platform were fairly short, an avid player could run through a lot of batteries in a relatively short time, and running up a higher bill. Nintendo came prepared with a solution for this, however.
The Game Boy Battery Pack was a blocky $30 USD accessory cast in the same color as the Game Boy’s off-white casing, and connected through the external power terminal found on the upper-left side of the system. With this, players could get 10 hours (according to Nintendo’s official materials; 4-5 according to other sources) of portable gaming time in after a period of eight hours to fully recharge the unit, a process that could be repeated around 300 times (according to Nintendo; around 1,000 according to others) over the span of the accessory’s battery life. An added bonus is that you could attach a power cord that could plug into an AC power outlet, allowing for further continuous play without draining the battery.
There was one slight drawback to using it in place of ordinary batteries, however, as the weighty accessory was connected externally via its cord, making it a little more cumbersome. Fortunately, there was also a “snap action” clip that compensated for this somewhat by allowing the user to attach the Battery Pack to their belt.
All told, it’s enough to make one a little more grateful for the way batteries are incorporated into the portable tech we have today!