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Game Boy Nitro (Ohga Shrugs)

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The Game Boy Nitro is a handheld video console made by Nintendo. It was launched in Japan in February 2006, and released in America and Europe the following March. The Nitro introduced several innovations to handheld gaming, including a touchscreen, a built-in microphone, and wireless connectivity, both on and offline.


Super Mario 64 Deluxe

One of the Nitro's famous killer apps at launch.

Rumors of Nintendo's fourth version of the Game Boy began in late 2004. Nintendo confirmed its existence in March, and first unveiled the Nitro at E3 2005. On February 24th of the next year, the system was ready for launch. Nintendo released the Nitro with Animal Crossing: Wild World, Super Mario 64 Deluxe, and Mario Kart Nitro in most territories, although some countries had to wait longer for a localized version of Animal Crossing. Early 3rd party efforts for the system included Tony Hawk's American Sk8land and Bust-A-Move.

Throughout the first year of its life, the Game Boy Nitro received a bevy of major games, especially from Nintendo. These included Tetris Nitro, Pokemon Ranger, Bomberman, New Super Mario Bros, Pokemon Diamond/Pearl, and Nintendogs from Nintendo and Castlevania, Dragon Quest, Daxter, and Mega Man titles from third parties. Many of these games, particularly New Super Mario Bros, Pokemon Diamond/Pearl, and Nintendogs, would join Nintendo's launch titles as major system sellers, meaning that the Nitro had half a dozen raisons d'être by the end of 2006.

2007 and 2008 were slower years for the Game Boy Nitro, but the system continued to recceive many notable games, including more titles from third parties. From Nintendo, these included The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Pilotwings Island, Brain Age 2, Mario Party Nitro, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon 2, and Pokemon Platinum. Other publishers supplied games like Monster Hunter Portable, Contra 4, and Final Fantasy 7.

On November 1, 2008, Nintendo released the Game Boy Nitro Plus, with added features such as an online store called the eShop. This marked the beginning of Nintendo's efforts in online stores for handhelds. Although a very limited service, especially compared to that of the booming mobile markets including iOS devices, the Niro Plus's eShop would become the host of hundreds of games, including some notable exclusives like Shantae: Risky's Revenge and Flipnote Studio

Dragon Quest 9

Dragon Quest 9 was the best selling entry in series history.

2008 and 2009 ended up being the Nitro's best year in terms of hardware sales, thanks in part to the release of the Plus model. Games continued to flow into the system's library this year, the most notable of which was actually the third party Dragon Quest 9. The first main entry in the series for a handheld, the game would end up becoming one of the best selling non-Nintendo games of all time in Japan. Major first party games of 2009 included Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Tomodachi Collection, Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver, and Style Savvy, while other major third party games included Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Final Fantasy 8, and the cult classic Scribblenauts.

2009 was also marked by the last major Game Boy Nitro model, the Plus XL. This was essentially a larger version of the Plus, meant for people who enjoyed larger systems. Although by far the worst selling Nitro model, the Plus XL enjoyed twenty million sales during its lifetime, and helped improve the Game Boy Nitro's longevity.

2010 is remembered as the year the Game Boy Nitro began slowing down, as Nintendo began preparing for their next generation of the Game Boy family. Still, sales remained fairly healthy, and plenty of new games joined the system's library. Many of these games were sequels to games already on the Nitro, with the most notable being Pokemon Black/White. Other major sequels included Pokemon Ranger 3, Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem, and Monster Hunter 3 Portable, while new surprises like Super Smash Bros Rumble, Ice Climber Ascent, Kirby: Mass Attack, and Art Academy also made strong showings.

As the Nitro's last full year on the market, 2011 was considered an off year for the system. In Japan, the only true major release was Final Fantasy 9, an enhanced port of a Nintendo 64 game. The west fared slightly better as they only received some titles at this late date. However, by E3 of that year, it was revealed that the Nitro was being replaced by the end of the financial year.

2012 was dominated by the Game Boy 3DS, but that did not stop the Game Boy Nitro from selling healthily, nor did it stop its final major release, Pokemon Black/White 2, from being a hit.


Game Boy Nitro 2

The Game Boy Nitro in action.

The Nitro resembles the original Game Boy Advance, with a screen flanked by various buttons. The unit comes with a stylus that fits into the system, and can be used to interact with the screen. For instance, players can write each other messages in the PictoChat application.

The Nitro has an analog nub and a D-Pad on its left side, four face buttons marked with the letters A, B, X, and Y on the right, Start and Select buttons beneath the screen, and R and L shoulder buttons on the back corners of the system. The game slot is between the two shoulders, along with the power cable input.

In addition to the small stereo speakers built into the system, between the shoulder buttons and the D-Pad and face buttons, the bottom of the Nitro has a port for a pair of headphones. A microphone is built into the top of the system, above the screen.

The Nitro's CPU clocks in at about 300 MHz, and it has about 16 MB of RAM. The screen has a resolution of 320 by 240 pixels. In total, the unit weighs about 10 ounces. The battery lasts about 10 hours on a full charge, though the number can decline over time. Pausing a game for a few minutes without puts it in a "Sleep" mode, which can be exited by pressing any button.

The Nitro's Game Cards range can be up to 1 GB in size. However, most games are on the smaller side, and only a few games ever exceeded 200 MB. Most cartridges have at least some flash memory for saving games. They weigh about 4 grams.

Although the standard-model Nitro can not play Game Boy Advance games, Nintendo soon released a peripheral that allowed it to do so.

The "Plus" line had 256 MB of internal memory, and was compatible with SD cards.


The Game Boy Nitro is compatible with Nintendo Wi-Fi, allowing it to play games online, for no extra cost. The Plus model also features a version of the Nintendo eShop.

Download play is compatible with many Nitro games. It allows several players in a small area to play using the same cartridge, albeit with limitations. For example, using this feature, Mario Kart Nitro allows people who own a Nitro but not a copy of the game to compete in local multiplayer courses as the character Shy Guy.

Pictochat is included on every Nitro. It is a basic messaging program that allows people within a short range to communicate in chat rooms of up to 16 people.


By the end of 2012, the Game Boy Nitro had sold over 190 million units, making it the most popular gaming hardware of all time. In particular, over 40 million units were sold in Japan, meaning that on average, about a third of the population owned one.

List of Best Selling Game Boy Nitro Retail Games

Note: This list is incomplete. You can help by adding information.

  • New Super Mario Bros - 32 million
  • Mario Kart Nitro - 25 million
  • Nintendogs - 25 million
  • Pokemon Diamond/Pearl - 20 million
  • Pokemon Black/White - 17 million
  • Brain Age 2 - 15 million
  • Super Mario 64 Deluxe - 14 million
  • Animal Crossing: Wild World - 13 million
  • Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver - 13 million
  • Mario Party Nitro - 10 million
  • Pokemon Platinum - 9 million
  • Pokemon Black/White 2 - 8 million
  • Dragon Quest 9 - 7 million
  • Cooking Mama - 6 million
  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village - 6 million
  • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass - 6 million
  • Friends Collection - 5 million
  • Pokemon Mystery Dungeon 2 - 5 million
  • Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box - 5 million
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga - 5 million
  • Cooking Mama 2 - 4 million
  • Daxter - 4 million
  • Final Fantasy 7 - 4 million
  • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story - 4 million
  • MySims - 4 million
  • Super Smash Bros. Rumble - 4 million
  • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks - 4 million
  • Art Academy - 3 million
  • Cooking Mama 2 - 3 million
  • Final Fantasy 8 - 3 million
  • Final Fantasy 9 - 3 million
  • Hannah Montana - 3 million
  • Kirby Super Star Ultra - 3 million
  • LEGO Batman - 3 million
  • LEGO Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars - 3 million
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! - 3 million
  • Monster Hunter 3 Portable - 3 million
  • Professor Layton and the Last Specter - 3 million
  • Professor Layton and the Unwound Future - 3 million
  • Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters - 3 million
  • Rhythm Heaven - 3 million
  • Spyro: New Dawn -3 million
  • Style Savvy - 3 million
  • Dissidia: Final Fantasy - 2 million
  • Dragon Quest 4 - 2 million
  • Dragon Quest 5 - 2 million
  • Dragon Quest 6 - 2 million
  • Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker - 2 million
  • Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 - 2 million
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep - 2 million
  • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days - 2 million
  • Kirby: Squeak Squad - 2 million
  • LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 - 2 million
  • LEGO Indiana Jones - 2 million
  • Phineas and Ferb - 2 million
  • Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky - 2 million
  • Pokemon Ranger - 2 million
  • Pokemon Ranger 2 - 2 million
  • Scribblenauts - 2 million
  • Spyro: Dark Moon - 2 million
  • Tekken: Dark Resurrection - 2 million
  • Tetris Nitro - 2 million
  • Toy Story 3 - 2 million
  • Ace Attorney 4 - 1 million
  • Ben 10: Alien Force - 1 million
  • Cars - 1 million
  • Cars 2 - 1 million
  • Chrono Trigger - 1 million
  • Diddy Kong Racing - 1 million
  • Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions - 1 million
  • Gardening Mama - 1 million
  • Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars - 1 million
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - 1 million
  • Kirby: Mass Attack - 1 million
  • Kung Fu Panda - 1 million
  • LEGO Battles - 1 million
  • LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 - 1 million
  • LEGO Indiana Jones 2 - 1 million
  • LEGO Star Wars 2 - 1 million
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis - 1 million
  • Monster Hunter Portable - 1 million
  • Namco Museum Nitro - 1 million
  • Plants vs. Zombies - 1 million
  • Pokemon Conquest - 1 million
  • Pokemon Ranger 3 - 1 million
  • Ratatouille - 1 million
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed - 1 million
  • Super Scribblenauts - 1 million
  • The Legendary Starfy - 1 million
  • Wall-E - 1 million
  • Wizards of Waverly Place - 1 million

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