The Nintendo Game Boy was not the cartridge-based handheld, since Smith Engineering did the Microvision in 1979. However, the Game Boy made handheld consoles both accessible and entertaining in a way that nobody else could have done. The original Game Boy did have a minor flaw at the time, and that was its cartridge lifespan.
How long do Gameboy cartridge batteries last? Technically, they should last more than 10 years depending on how often you use the game cartridge and the number of saves you make. However, there have been accounts of these things lasting 20 years or more while still retaining the ability to save.
Since original GB cartridges used SRAM to store user data instead of programmable ROM, they required tiny coin cells. These are either CR1616 or CR2025 cells, both rated at 3V. You can replace the battery in a Game Boy cartridge if it dies, but you’ll need a 3.8mm security screwdriver bit.
How Long Do Gameboy Cartridge Batteries Last?
The battery itself is rated to last a decade or more, with a very long shelf life and a low self-discharge rate. Modern lithium coin cells are even more long-lasting. Each Game Boy cartridge used an SRAM chip to store user data, and some GBA games even had internal real-time clocks to facilitate gameplay features in RPGs.
In the Game Boy advanced, Nintendo got rid of SRAM chips and used EEPROM to store user data instead. EEPROM requires no power to retain its memory, and the lifespan of these cartridges is limited only by the characteristics of their flash memory chips. However, on the original Game Boy, you had to worry about your cartridge battery dying out after a decade.
How Long Will Gameboy Cartridges Last?
It depends on how often you use the cartridge, and the way it’s stored. Understand that the cartridge doesn’t become useless if its battery dies. You only lose your save files (which can take a decade or more, because that’s how long coin cells last in these things).
In all Game Boy games, mask ROM is used to store game files. User data is saved to SRAM. And a battery is used to power this SRAM.
Game Boy Color retained a similar approach, only with larger mask ROM capacities for its bigger games. GBA changed things up with EEPROM and Flash, which don’t require current to retain data. However, these were expensive and some early GBA games still used SRAM to store save data.
Mask ROM lasts for an eternity, longer than even flash or EEPROM. The first thing to go in a GBA cartridge will be the save file, but that can take decades. If you store the cartridges at a temperature of around 20°C to 25°C in a dry environment, they will last much longer.
Can You Replace The Batteries In A Gameboy Cartridge?
You can, and it’s relatively easy as long as you have the correct tools. First, you’ll need a 3.8mm security screwdriver bit to open the cartridge. Then, you’ll need the correct battery type.
If you want to be absolutely sure, open the cartridge and check which battery model it uses. On an original Game Boy, it is usually a CR1616 coin cell. Some Game Boy and Game Boy Color games also use CR2025 cells.
GBA games use CR2032 batteries. C means it is a lithium cell, while R means it is cylindrical in shape. The first two digits of the number specify the battery diameter, while the next two digits specify its thickness.
So, a CR1616 cell is 16mm wide and 1.6mm tall. In comparison, a CR2032 cell is 20mm wide and 3.2mm tall (all of these are 3V cells). Get the correct cell, or you’ll have trouble with the contacts that carry power to the PCB.
How Long Do Batteries Last In Game Boy Color?
A Game Boy Color cartridge is very similar in design to a regular Game Boy. Plus, it uses CR2025/ CR1616 cells, which means you can just buy a pack of these things to fix both your GB and GBC games. When you remove the old battery from your GB or GBC game, you’ll lose all your save data.
What Can I Do With Old Game Boy Cartridges?
You can design a nice display case for old Game Boy cartridges. Or you can buy an aftermarket ROM dumper and create your own backup ROMs for use in emulators. If your Game Boy has died, you can buy an Analogue Pocket.
The Analogue Pocket is a modern handheld console that can play all Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advanced cartridges. No, it doesn’t use software emulation. And it can output to modern HD TVs, using a dock.
The Pocket uses two FPGA chips that can be programmed to act like the original hardware. One is an Altera Cyclone V, the other is an Altera Cyclone 10. Game developers can program the FPGAs to act like “cores” for other retro consoles.
And the LCD display has a resolution of 1600 x 1440 which is 10x that of an original Game Boy. It even has Gorillas Glass protection.
How Much Did Game Boy Cost In 1990?
Only $89.99, which makes it a whole 60 dollars cheaper than the Sega Game Gear (and $205 in today’s money). Yes, the Game Gear was a bit faster but it also consumed more power. Six AA batteries were needed to power the Game Gear, while the Game Boy needed just four.
From the very start, Nintendo designed its handheld console to be as affordable and compact as possible. While giving it excellent endurance, so it could run an entire day without needing fresh batteries. The Game Boy also had an extensive library of quality games, many of which were made by Nintendo.
I hope this article helped you understand how a Game Boy cartridge works, and how long it can last. Each Game Boy generation brought something new to the table. By the time of the GBA, most game cartridges used nonvolatile memory to store user data (so they didn’t need any batteries).
Some GBA games had EEPROM but still used batteries because they also had a real-time clock. This clock was used to facilitate gameplay features, like growing berries in Pokémon or changing the tide in Shoal Cave. So if the battery died, you wouldn’t lose your save data, but certain game features couldn’t be accessed anymore.