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The Ultimate Game Boy Talk

Michael Steil

The Nintendo Game Boy was an 8-bit handheld gaming console that competed with the SEGA Game Gear and the Atari Lynx. Compared to its competition, it had very little RAM (8 KB) and no color support (4 shades of gray at 160x144). It was succeeded by the Game Boy Color, which fixed this main shortcoming, but shared the same architecture. During the 14 year life span of the 8 bit Game Boy platform, game programmers kept understanding the hardware better and better, and continued finding new tricks for better graphics effects, such as sprite multiplexing, parallax and palette effects. This talk explains all the hardware details of the Game Boy: The programming model of the 8080/Z80-like LR35902 CPU, the system's sound, timer and I/O functionality, and programming details as well as common tricks involving the graphics processor ("PPU"), which was specifically designed for LCD output. The listener will get a good understanding of 8 bit programming and creative programming on extremely limited hardware, as well as common tricks that can be generalized to other systems.

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