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Nintendo Game boy Proves Its Resilience by Surviving a Bombing During the Gulf War

Nintendo Game Boy survives a bombing but still manages to play Tetris.

November 26, 2020

The Nintendo Game Boy has been around in one way or another throughout many gamer’s lives. Whether it was the original Game Boy, the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, or the Game Boy Micro, this handheld wonder transformed how games were played forever. Even though the Game Boy wasn’t the first handheld console, the earliest handheld game console with interchangeable cartridges was the Milton Bradley Microvision in 1979, Nintendo married the elements of the Game & Watch device and the Famicom console resulting in what we know today as the Nintendo Game Boy. The old saying “They don’t make them like they used to” couldn’t be more correct when talking about the Game Boy, even more so when it survives a barracks bombing during the Gulf War.

The devastating Gulf War was in full swing from 1990 to 1991 in the Middle East, and at some point throughout that conflict, a Nintendo Game Boy had been stored inside a barracks and played on between duties by U.S. Army medic Stephan Scoggins. Unfortunately, a bomb hit the barracks causing a massive fire, destroying everything in sight including Stephan’s Nintendo Game Boy — or so he thought. Scoggins wrote to Nintendo to repair or hopefully at least replace his beloved console, writing, “Fortunately, this Game Boy, several Game Paks, and sundry other personal items were the only casualties claimed by a fire.” Nintendo techs deemed the Game Boy to be a lost cause as it looked totally destroyed from the outside with melted control pad and A and B buttons but thought they would try, for the fun if it, to insert a Tetris cartridge in any way. Low and behold the Game Boy booted straight up and played the game.

Even though the outer casing is badly burnt and the motherboard can be seen due to warping, the buttons don’t actually work but it powers on just fine and the start and select buttons still work. Thankfully, Nintendo did send Scoggins a replacement Game Boy to play on but the ‘Gulf War Game Boy’ is sitting proudly to this day in a glass display unit on the second floor of the Nintendo NY in Rockefeller Center with a plaque reading, “This Game Boy was damaged when barracks were bombed during the 1990-1991 Gulf War. It still works!” It just goes to show how durable Nintendo products are, at least the Game Boy, as my very own OG Game Boy took quite a few tumblings down the stairs and falls from my school bag.

In April this year, we celebrated the Nintendo Game Boy’s 30th birthday. The boxy and simple handheld system first launched in Japan in 1989 and since then, this little pocket-rocket went on to sell well over 100 million units, allowing gamers all over the world the freedom to play their favorite games – including Tetris, Super Mario, and Pokémon. Having this new-found freedom meant that Game Boy owners could play whenever and wherever they wanted which completely revolutionized the video-game era. We also have seen an artist take a very different approach to the Game Boy by starting her own business called ‘Gameboy Planter’ where she lovingly fills old Game Boys with plants and adorable Pokemons and also saw the New York City Department of Corrections going out and buying 5500 handheld gaming consoles to occupy the city’s prisoners so they don’t go stir-crazy throughout COVID-19.

You can check out our Nintendo Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. review right here for a little bit of nostalgia.

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Rachael Fiddis

Rachael (She/Her), who is Deputy Editor & Head of Stakeholder Relations, has been gaming for many years. Some of her favourite video games include The Witcher 3 and The Last of Us but also loves a good indie title. Gaming Culture is where her heart lies and spends many hours sieving through gaming fan art and cosplay displays. Other than gaming, Rachael is a book nerd and music lover.

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