N64 Magazine and Super Play before had often had a fair few irregular features covering Game Boy games, with plenty of information on Pokemon over the years and even looking at the recently launched Game Boy Camera and Printer in April 1998. However, by the Spring of 1999 and with the release of Pokemon looming, it was an ideal time to launch a dedicated section of N64 magazine for the world’s greatest handheld to be featured.
The Game Boy Camera Feature from Issue 14
The first issue of Planet Game boy appeared within the pages of issue 26 of N64 magazine, and contained 16 pages of News, Previews and Reviews of all the latest games. This first issue also looked at the legacy of the Game Boy and its various iterations, as well as covering Pokemon. In what was to become a regular feature, Game Boy Gallery asked readers to submit their pictures taken with the Game Boy camera - with this becoming one of the funniest parts of Planet GB over the following months and years.
The majority of N64 Magazine issues had between 8 and 16 pages dedicated to Planet Game Boy, with the size depending on the number of games released that month and the features they were able to write. Planet GB on the whole was split into 5 regular sections: News, Previews, Reviews, Retro and Guide - which showcased tips for recent releases. Other features appeared where needed. Event looked at various events from the Game Boys history, whilst Game Boy world looked at various events around the world and cultural phenomenon. For example the first issue looked at Pokemon and its imminent release in the UK.
Reviews were often half a page to a page long, and were only given a score out of 5. Although that made it easy to recommend the best Game Boy titles, it was sometimes difficult to separate some of the mediocre titles. Reviews did increase to Two, Four or even Six pages for some of the big titles, with Pokemon often getting some of the most attention.
As well as the regulars, there were many memorable features in PGB over the years, with the first issue looking at the various versions of the Game Boy as well as Pokemon in a bit more detail, as well as introducing readers properly to Pokemon. One feature that sticks out on my mind was the Game Boy skin feature in issue 32, this showcased some weird and wacky models that readers and artists had put together, often increasing the size of the Game Boy massively.
The immense popularity of PGB led to a standalone magazine, with 5 issues being published. They started off in Summer 1999, with a 100 page magazine. This had plenty of news and reviews of GBC games, with several features dotted around inside, such as looking at the Gameboys history, and an introduction to Pokemon, plus a fully mapped 16 page guide to Link's Awakening DX. A further issue was published in Autumn of the same year, featuring the girl group 21st Century Girls on the cover. However the magazine went on hiatus after this and the next issue was markedly different to those before it. We’ve covered this in a bit more detail in our Other Magazines feature.
In the meantime Planet GB went from strength to strength within N64 magazine, and in late 1999 Pokemon finally hit the UK. Issue 33’s Planet GB was almost solely dedicated to those critters, with the team calling it one of the best games on the Game Boy. The following issue went one step further and looked at the brand new Gold and Silver versions as they had just been announced at Spaceworld ‘99. Pokemon Yellow followed Red and Blue in the summer of 2000 with another mammoth review.
The Game Boy Advance was the next big thing, and was fully announced at Spaceworld 2000 after months of speculation from the team as to the size and shape of the new handheld. After all the hype, it didn’t actually take too long until the Japanese release, with issue 54 containing all we needed to know about the new pocket powerhouse. This was also the issue that Pokemon Gold and Silver launched in the UK, with another mammoth review.
For the GBA’s UK launch in issue 56, the pages got a GBA style makeover, with blue borders and GBA screenshots instead of game Boy ones. For the final three issues of N64 Magazine they covered GBA games alongside Color ones, with a simple illustration designating which was which.
Planet game boy continued as N64 transitioned to NGC, with a further focus on GBA games. When NGC was redesigned with issue 68, Planet GB didn't survive the transition as Game Boy games were brought into the main magazine - and would remain that way until issue 101. For 2005 NGC pocket was launched, continuing the spirit of Planet Game Boy but looking at the DS’s launch and some of the final games on GBA. This lasted exactly a year, as for 2006 with the Gamecube in decline, pocket reviews were brought back into the main body of the magazine.
Planet GB was an incredible addition to the magazine. Many of the other Nintendo Magazines of the time tried a similar format, however none were as successful as Planet GB was in delivering everything you needed to know about the Game Boy and all it’s greatest games.