Game Boy Color

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It has been requested that this article be rewritten and expanded to include more information. Reason: add more information on accessories and their relevance to Super Mario

"GBC" redirects here. For the Game Boy Camera, see Game Boy Camera.
Game Boy Color
Atomic Purple Game Boy Color
Generation Fifth generation
Release date Japan October 21, 1998
USA November 18, 1998
Europe November 23, 1998
Australia November 27, 1998
South Korea December 20, 2000[1]
Discontinued Japan September 25, 2003
USA 2003
Predecessor Game Boy
Virtual Boy
Successor Game Boy Advance
“Get into it.”
The Game Boy Color slogan
The logo for Game Boy Color

The Game Boy Color (also abbreviated as GBC) is the fourth model to the Game Boy and, in some ways, the handheld counterpart of the Nintendo 64. It is similar to its predecessors, the most notable differences being that it is lighter, it is capable of displaying multiple colors, and the processing power is twice as fast. It is the final 8-bit handheld console. Although it is popularly described as a successor to the Game Boy due to its hardware advancements and the existence of Game Boy Color games that are incompatible with a standard Game Boy, Nintendo internally categorized it as a hardware revision. This disparity is reflected in the company's public representation of the system, such as in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where the Chronicle lists Game Boy and Game Boy Color games under one section.

Some games made for the original Game Boy display more colors if played on a Game Boy Color. Other games were made exclusively for the Game Boy Color. The older versions could not play these, but the Game Boy Advance, the Game Boy Advance SP, and the Game Boy Player could. It also had the shortest lifetime of a Nintendo handheld, as it was discontinued in 2003, and the last game was released later the same year.

The Game Boy Color has identical controls to those of the original Game Boy and the NES controller. These are A Button, B Button, Start Button, and Select Button buttons and the +Control Pad. There are no compatibility issues with games made for the original Game Boy being run on a Game Boy Color. All games, accessories that are programmed for a particular game (such as a Game Link Cable), and non-standard features (such as the camera protruding out of a Game Boy Camera cartridge) will work on a Game Boy Color. Playing games that did not have any color can now be played in color using a color palette by using a combination of +Control Pad and A Button, B Button, or no additional button being pressed to select presets, similar to the Super Game Boy how someone can change the colors into the typical monochrome display.

A device known as the Game Boy Horror, modeled after the Game Boy Color, appears in Luigi's Mansion.

Some Game Boy and Game Boy Color games were once available through the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console service until the Nintendo 3DS eShop's closure on March 27, 2023.

Hardware specifications[edit]

  • CPU: Zilog Z80 (customized)
  • CPU Speed: 8 Mhz
  • RAM: 16 kB
  • Resolution: 160x144 pixels (Same as Game Boy)
  • Colors: 32,768 (15-bit RGB)
  • Maximum number of colors on screen: 56
  • Maximum sprite size: 8x16 or 16x8 pixels
  • Maximum number of sprites on screen: 40 sprites, 10 per scanline (Same as Game Boy)
  • Maximum number of colors on sprite: 4 (Same as NES)[2][3]
  • Minimum/Maximum cartridge size: 256 kb - 64 mb[4]
  • Sound: 4 channels

Compatibility modes[edit]

All older cartridges are compatible with the Game Boy Color but not always the other way around. Here is a chart to explain.

Example cartridge Usual color Game Boy mode Super Game Boy mode Game Boy Color mode
Original Game Boy cartridge North American Cartridge Gray Check mark.svg Varies from game to game X mark.svg
Game Boy Color cartridge (black) European Cartridge Black Check mark.svg Varies from game to game Check mark.svg
Game Boy Color cartridge (clear) North American Super Mario Bros. Deluxe cartridge Clear X mark.svg X mark.svg Check mark.svg


All official accessories compatible with the Game Boy are compatible with the Game Boy Color.

Game Link Cable[edit]

GBC Link Cable

The same link cable the Game Boy and its variations use can be used on Game Boy Color.

Game Boy Printer[edit]


The Game Boy Printer that was used to print pictures from the player's Game Boy. This accessory gained some extended support when the Game Boy Color was released, such as being used in Super Mario Bros. Deluxe in Toy Box mode viewing albums.

Mobile Adapter GB[edit]

Only available in Japan, the Mobile Adapter GB allowed certain games to connect to some Japanese mobile phones. The only strictly Super Mario games to utilize it were Mobile Golf and Mario Kart: Super Circuit; however, the operation software that came with it (Mobile Trainer) features references to the Super Mario franchise. This peripheral was referred to as the Mobile Game Boy Adapter in a translated Iwata Asks interview. The device was released exclusively to Japan on January 27, 2001 and was not a commercial success.

A part of the service was the Mobile System GB, which allowed players to log on to the internet to access a network for wireless play across the nation via Nintendo servers. Using this server, Mobile Golf could be played online wirelessly, a precursor to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and Nintendo Network. Just as the device was not successful, the Mobile System GB was not successful and closed down on December 14, 2002.

IR communication[edit]

SMBDX IR Mode.png

There is an infrared LED, indicated by the black rectangle on top of the unit, that a Game Boy Color can use. This was the primary method in which Mystery Gift worked in the Generation II Pokémon games, but Super Mario Bros. Deluxe can make use of this feature by sending high scores and other data to other copies. This feature is exclusive to the Game Boy Color and is not present in later Game Boy devices.

BIOS colors[edit]

These colors will also work on a Game Boy Advance, a Game Boy Advance SP and a Game Boy Player when a Game Boy game is inserted.

+Control Pad up +Control Pad down +Control Pad left +Control Pad right
No input Boot screen Brown
Boot screen Pale Yellow
Pale Yellow[5]/Pastel Mix[6]
Boot screen Blue
Boot screen Green
A Button Boot screen Red
Boot screen Orange
Boot screen Dark Blue
Dark Blue
Boot screen Dark Green
Dark Green
B Button Boot screen Dark Brown
Dark Brown
Boot screen Yellow
Boot screen Gray
Original Gray
Boot screen Reverse

It has been requested that more images be uploaded for this article. Remove this notice only after the additional images have been added. Specific(s): Super Mario Land and Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins are not the only games to have this functionality

SML B&W Title Screen.png
On Game Boy
The Super Mario Land title screen in one of the system color palettes for Game Boy Color.
On Game Boy Color and later handhelds
Bonus game
On Game Boy
bonus room
On Game Boy Color and later handhelds

The Game Boy Color will display a unique hardware-coded palette of colors for some titles using an internal list of original Game Boy games. Two such instances are Super Mario Land and Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. The palettes do however fall short of being a full colorization of the games, notably in the case of Dr. Mario where the regular black and square-patterned black viruses look similar.


System gallery[edit]

Standard colors[edit]

Special editions[edit]

Game gallery[edit]


  • The Game Boy Color, the Nintendo GameCube, and the Wii U were all released on the same day of their respective years in the Americas.
  • This is Nintendo of Australia's first portable console.
  • Each letter from the word "COLOR" in the logo is displayed in one of the system's five launch colors.
  • In Commonwealth English, the correct spelling for "color" is "colour". Despite this, the name of the console was never changed outside of America to reflect this difference.