“Dad, can I please please please have a Game Boy Color!?” I remember uttering those very words when the Game Boy Color came out, hoping desperately my pleas would be answered. To my surprise and joy, he agreed. We ended up scouring multiple Walmarts for the brand new, hot-at-the-time item and ended up having to put one on hold. I still remember standing at that counter and being told that it didn’t come with any game. My dad then muttered the best words he possibly could have following that realization.

“Go ahead and pick out which game you want for it, Zack.” My eyes lit up and I knew immediately the answer: Pokémon Blue! I spent the rest of that ride home happily playing my brand new, teal Game Boy Color.

Realm of Memories is a series where we reflect on our absolute favorite moments in The Legend of Zelda games. These could be the times we first fell in love with a game, were moved by the events of the story or actions of a character, felt triumphant when overcoming a tough boss or challenge, or we had an experience so unique that the adventure truly became our own. The Zelda series has touched our lives in many ways, and just as Hyrule has endless stories to share, so do our writers!
Our family was more of a console based family. I never owned the original chunky Game Boy or its smaller cousin, the Game Boy Pocket. The Game Boy Color was my first real foray into having some sort of portable technology that could fit in my pocket and I adored it so very much. From the word of mouth legend of the MissingNo. in Pokémon to eagerly reading through many magazines to see the latest releases, the Game Boy Color is near and dear to my heart. Since today is its 20th anniversary, I thought I’d share a couple of memories I have with this wonderful piece of hardware.

My best friend the Charmander

Like practically every kid who owned a Game Boy Color, I was a part of the huge Pokémon craze that swept the world in 1998. As I previously mentioned, I had Pokémon Blue, and like many other kids, I played through most of the game using only my starter. As you might guess, it was a Charmander. The thought of having to raise six individual creatures didn’t sound really appealing to me, especially when most other RPG’s I’d played at the time I could have parties of three or four. So I just blazed through the game (literally in this case) and only used my starter.

This didn’t last too long, however, as I encountered Brock and he completely stomped my poor little lizard into the ground and I learned one of Charmander’s weaknesses. I was stubborn though, and I pushed ahead anyway. I fought him spamming ember as much as I possibly could, and after a long and arduous fight (and maybe more than a few potions) we triumphed. I was so excited I jumped for joy, and I felt a real connection for my pokémon. He became my partner and I loved traveling the world of Kanto with him.

We fought and battled our way through the world together, with my Charmander now a fully evolved Charizard. We’d come so far, and I was confident in our abilities, or I suppose more specifically the fact that my Charizard out-leveled everything we ever fought at this point but I digress. We took out the Elite Four pretty handily — and then Lance completely stomped us. I was stubborn even still, however, and I remember sitting in my chair formulating whatever plans I could, such as hoping maybe I could take out each one of his five team members with a single fire blast each.

Finally, we triumphed and I felt that same joy I felt way back when we conquered Brock at his gym. Of course, this victory was short-lived as the game told me my rival was waiting for me and all of that joy immediately evaporated. He beat me pretty soundly since I was completely out of supplies and I threw most everything I had at Lance and his dragons. After a few more attempts (and a few more boosted levels from repeatedly losing over and over again) we triumphed, and the feeling of the journey being over finally settled in. I teared up a little bit when I looked at my Charizard and remembered our fond journey together. It should come as no surprise then that Charmander is my favorite pokémon of all time. But it’s not just because of his design or anything like that. It’s mainly because Charmander is and always will be my best friend.

Link’s Awakening and my little sister

What was the fastest way to get me to behave and get along with my little sister when I was a kid? If you guessed “promise you’ll buy me a video game” then you’re right. Growing up, I had a lot of trouble getting along with most of my siblings. I’m the youngest on my fathers’ side and second youngest on my mothers. I was always viewed as the baby of the family from my dad and I won’t lie, I was quite spoiled. I got a nice taste of my own medicine when my little sister entered the picture, however, and I had that natural sibling jealousy that built from seeing everyone love her because she was the youngest.

As I was looking through some magazines, I found out that there was a Zelda game I hadn’t heard of: Link’s Awakening! By this time, I’d played Ocarina of Time and it was my favorite game to sit down and play. The thought of a Zelda adventure on my handheld was too good to pass up. So I utilized my foolproof method of getting what I wanted as a kid: just asking for it. Rightfully so, my mother told me I had to do something to earn it, which of course caused me to respond as if that was the worst thing imaginable. But I was up to the task, which was very simple: Just get along with your sister, take out the trash, and be good. I took all of these responsibilities very seriously and I dealt with my sister as best as I could. A brand new Zelda game was at stake here!

After about a week or so of this, I decided to ask once again. Asking again was a risky strategy, as angering my parents by pestering them would ensure that terrible answer of a “no”. Even though I could’ve used the tried and true desperation method of crying until they gave in, I was eight years old and way too mature to do anything like that — for the most part, anyway. The answer was a resounding yes to acquiring the game and I was pretty pumped.

I remember that car ride as we drove to go get Link’s Awakening very clearly. I engaged in conversation with everyone in the car and I was quite talkative, which was unusual at the time unless it was with my mother. I didn’t really realize it then, but I had been getting along with my sister without even really trying at this point. That car ride was one of the times as I remember feeling happy not just because I was getting a new game but also because I was able to get along with my family for a while and nothing went completely wrong. This is one of those memories where when I look back, it holds significance in ways I didn’t realize. The importance of what it means to make an effort to get along with someone and consider other points of view and the like. We went back to our old bickering ways shortly after I acquired the game, but I can’t think about Link’s Awakening without thinking of the time I got along with my sister at a young age.

When an anniversary of something I was a part of or in this case owned comes around, I like to spend time reflecting back on all the times I had with whatever the anniversary is of. In the case of the Game Boy Color it was a great opportunity to think back on all the wonderful memories I had growing up with this little handheld. It even brought back memories I once thought I’d forgotten entirely about.

Reflecting and reminiscing is a wonderful way to realize how far you’ve come in your life. Even though some might think it silly to think this way, the Game Boy Color was an important part of my childhood. In times where I felt alone or scared, I always remember playing it as much as I could, hiding under my bed and using my night light to the best of my ability to see the screen. In another sense, it was like a friend I’d always go back to no matter how bad the day might have been.

I owe this little system so much. Even though the Game Boy Advance would go on to be my favorite handheld, I will always look back on the Game Boy Color with a lot of love and joy, ever thankful of the colorful memories the system gave me.