Tech

This Game Boy Survived a Bombing in the Gulf War

We knew Nintendo made 'em strong, but damn.
IMAGE CAM SHERRILL
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Nintendo’s consoles are notorious for being resilient. You could drop a DS out of a car on a freeway and it probably wouldn't break. The steel-strength plastic of the N64 is remarkable. But all that pales in comparison to one very special birthday boy: an original Game Boy from 1989 that proved it could survive more than just time, it could in fact survive a war.

The controversial Gulf War was in full swing from 1990 to 1991, with the U.S. leading a coalition of 35 countries under the United Nations to fight Iraq in response to its invasion of Kuwait. At some point during the war, a Game Boy was stored by a medic named Stephan Scoggins inside barracks in the Middle East during a bombing. Afterwards, Scoggins sent the Game Boy to Nintendo for repair, writing, "Fortunately, this Game Boy, several Game Paks, and sundry other personal items were the only casualties claimed by a fire." Nintendo technicians thought the Game Boy was a lost cause, but decided to test a cartridge of Tetris. To their surprise, it worked. The Game Boy is still functioning today.

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This Game Boy's physical condition is less than perfect. The casing is clearly scorched, and the motherboard can be seen due to warping. The A and B buttons and D-pad buttons are melted, so it can't be used, but the start and select buttons still work. There are also some dead spots on the screen. But the game cartridge and processor are still in full swing.

While Nintendo has always kept durability in mind due to its emphasis on console portability, an average consumer probably doesn't need their Switch to have the ability to survive a bombing. The fact that this machine is functioning at all on its 30th birthday is a feat of its own, let alone functioning despite the damage from going through an actual war.

As Nintendo said in a '91 story in Nintendo Power about Scoggins' console, "Game Boy is even tougher than we thought it was! Of course, we don't recommend that you subject your Game Boy to trial by fire, but in this case we replaced Stephan's Game Boy as a special 'Desert Storm' courtesy."

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The war-torn Game Boy is currently on display at the Nintendo Store in New York, along with a plaque reading, "This Game Boy was damaged when barracks were bombed during the 1990-1991 Gulf War. It still works!" The original Nintendo Power article is also occasionally on display. If you're in New York, stop by and check out this awesome piece of gaming history. While you can't actually play it, it's still a remarkable sight to see.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Cameron K. McEwan
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