Nintendo's Game Boy Is A Hot Item In Japan Again 1
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

The Nintendo Game Boy's incredible impact on the world of gaming cannot be understated; it pretty much created the handheld console market by itself, revolutionising the way we play games on the go and putting subsequent (and more powerful) rivals in the shade in terms of sales.

However, when you sell millions of units of a particular device, that normally means the resale value is pretty poor – after all, with so many pre-owned examples on the secondary market, demand should never outstrip supply, right?

That seems to be happening in Japan right now, though. According to Akiba PC Hotline!, original Game Boy systems have become a big-ticket item in certain Japanese stores.

As reported by Automaton West, a retailer called Ken-chan in Akihabara is selling boxed versions of the transparent variant of the monochrome marvel for as much as 34,800yen (roughly $223 USD). The standard version – even with a few failed lines on its ageing LCD display – can go for as much as 24,800 yen ($159 USD).

In fact, even units which exhibit worrying signs of damage are selling for higher-than-expected prices; for example, a Game Boy with some "mystery liquid" in its battery compartment is being sold for 14,980yen ($96 USD) at Ken-chan, while a completely battered and almost destroyed console is being sold for $20 – it doesn't feel like long ago that you could pick up a decent condition Game Boy for that price in the West.

So, why is there this sudden surge in prices for Game Boy hardware? Another Akiba PC Hotline! article speculates that it is the return of foreign tourists to Japan following COVID, which is driving demand; Nintendo's handheld is iconic, even with those people who weren't alive when it was released, and tourists are seeking them out due to their legendary design. The weaker Japanese yen is also playing a part.

Outside of this, there's also a growing market for modified Game Boy consoles, and while there are a great many new parts being produced for the console – such as screens, speakers, buttons and even rechargeable batteries – many modders still need the 'raw' console in order to carry out their work.