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Game Boy logo, console and packaging

Contributed by Antonia Taylor on May 26th, 2024. Artwork published in
April 1989
.
Game Boy logo, console and packaging 1
Source: commons.wikimedia.org Evan-Amos. License: Public Domain.

If the Nintendo Entertainment System is the cultural icon for 1980s video games, then the Game Boy and its bold, direct logo does the same for the 1990s.

From Wikipedia:

The Game Boy is an 8-bit, fourth generation, handheld game console developed by Nintendo, launched in the Japanese home market on April 21, 1989, followed by North America and Europe later that year. Designed by the team behind the Game & Watch handhelds and NES games (Satoru Okada, Gunpei Yokoi, and R&D1), it was Nintendo’s first portable console, combining features from both.

The Game Boy logo uses Gill Sans, set in all caps and italics and utilizing tight kerning. Gill Sans was designed by Eric Gill and first released in 1928 by Monotype. Two logo variants exist; a primary logo set in Gill Sans Italic, and a secondary logo using bolder letterforms. These are not from Gill Sans Bold Italic, but were rather emboldened artifically. Box art for Game Boy games uses the secondary logo, rotated vertically and set along the left side of the cover (see also: Pokémon – “Gotta catch ’em all!”). Print advertisements for the Game Boy console and games use both logo variants. In television advertisements, the bolder logo variant is printed large on the front of the console and the Nintendo logo is omitted. In commercial units, the lighter logo variant is used, printed smaller and with the Nintendo logo set to the left of the logo.

Labels on the Game Boy (excluding the face buttons) use Futura. Futura was designed by Paul Renner and first released in 1927. The face button labels use Corporate [edit: or rather its close copy, Limited, see comments], in all caps, mirroring the typeface’s usage on the Nintendo Entertainment System (see also: Nintendo Entertainment System console and components). Corporate was created by Roc Mitchell and released in 1971 by Alphabet Innovations. The face button labels are set on an angle, mirroring the alignment of the buttons.

Japanese box design for the Game Boy with the lighter logo variant using unmodified Gill Italic. “Handy game machine” uses italic caps from a yet unidentified typeface similar to . [edit: it could be , see comments.]
Source: www.flickr.com Ken Yamaguchi. License: CC BY-SA.

Japanese box design for the Game Boy with the lighter logo variant using unmodified Gill Italic. “Handy game machine” uses italic caps from a yet unidentified typeface similar to Eurostile. [edit: it could be Gona, see comments.]

International (or American) box design for the Game Boy. The logo uses much bolder letterforms than on the Japanese box and the Game Boy itself. “Compact video game system” is in italic caps from Gill Sans as well. The list of items is set in , again in italic caps.
Source: www.flickr.com Chris Elt. License: CC BY-NC-ND.

International (or American) box design for the Game Boy. The logo uses much bolder letterforms than on the Japanese box and the Game Boy itself. “Compact video game system” is in italic caps from Gill Sans as well. The list of items is set in Futura Extra Bold Condensed, again in italic caps.

Cover of the instruction booklet for the original Game Boy. The white line at the bottom is  in bold italic caps.
Source: www.flickr.com AshTR. License: CC BY-SA.

Cover of the instruction booklet for the original Game Boy. The white line at the bottom is Futura in bold italic caps.

Typefaces

  • Gill Sans
  • Futura
  • Corporate
  • Futura Extra Bold Condensed
  • Gona

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Designers/Agencies

Artwork location

7 Comments on “Game Boy logo, console and packaging”

  1. The “Handy Game Machine” text appears to be set in either Gona (Shaken) or one of its popular digitizations, New Rodin (Fontworks) and Shin Go (Morisawa).

  2. Thank you, Almahbuby! I have added Gona.

  3. I’d be willing to bet that it’s New Rodin – Nintendo has a pretty extensive history with Fontworks.

  4. I’ve asked Akira Yoshino of TypeCache. Assuming the box in question is from 1989, he argues it’s not New Rodin. Akira writes:

    If the packaging was designed in 1989, the typeface they used is not New Rodin. It seems New Rodin was released in 2000.

    Anyway, the C and G in New Rodin look narrower, and the M in New Rodin looks wider. That’s why the characters are not New Rodin.

    The typeface they used was not ShinGo, neither. ShinGo was released in 1990. I think it started to be used frequently in the late 1990s.

    Almost all the designers used to use typefaces from Shaken around 1989. They rarely used typefaces from Morisawa.

    The C and G in ShinGo look narrower, and the M in ShinGo looks wider. ShinGo doesn’t match.

    In addition, Akira kindly provided more info and pointers about Gona (or Go-na). I have updated the typeface page, including design credits and links to a more detailed history by Ryogetsu Katsurai* and a recording of Ryota Doi’s talk about Go-na (1975) and another groundbreaking typeface also designed by Yukihiro Nakamura, the rounded sans serif Na-ru (1973), held at ATypI 2019 Tokyo.

    *) According to Katsurai, Rodin is from 1990, and New Rodin from 2002.

  5. Just a minor addition, of which I’m sure you’re aware. I think all the Nintendo products are using Limited rather than Corporate. You can tell from the A and B, or even the E, which is which. More extensive comparison here. It’s rather strange that these various small changes were made. Are they the result of buying into the “change 10 percent” myth? A lot of the competing type vendors actually ended up supplying Limited rather than true Corporate. There may even be more typeset in Limited during the phototype era than its original.

    Coporate Limited Differences

    NES GameBoy Corporate Limited Comparison

  6. Thanks for the addition and the convincing visualization, Patrick! Looks like the same applies to the other Nintendo uses, as well as to the ColecoVision, no? Would you argue in favor of giving Limited a separate typeface page? I’m wary that we won’t always have text that includes the tell-tale glyphs. But I can be convinced (as long as you promise to help with determining the ID).

  7. Thank you so much for the help everyone!

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