By Sean Hollister, a senior editor and founding member of The Verge who covers gadgets, games, and toys.
The urban legend surrounding the survival of the original Nintendo Game Boy during a bomb explosion has captivated the gaming community for years. However, recent developments suggest that this legend may not hold true. The flagship Nintendo Store at New York City’s Rockefeller Center, which had proudly displayed an allegedly damaged Game Boy from the Gulf War, has confirmed that the iconic device is no longer there. According to VideoGameArt&Tidbits, the Game Boy was reportedly returned to Nintendo’s US headquarters in Washington state. Although the exact date of its return remains uncertain, a YouTube video from February shows a worker claiming that the device had been sent back for safekeeping. Surprisingly, the Game Boy was still on display in January, as evidenced by another video.
In the event that the Gulf War Game Boy does not make a comeback, we present five high-resolution images of the device for posterity. These images were captured with a Pixel 3 during a visit to the store in 2019. Feel free to download and share them, but please remember to provide attribution if you do so.
The Game Boy’s survival can be attributed to the fact that its back remained largely unscathed. Additionally, the device’s original owner, Stephan Scoggins, has confirmed to The Verge that it was not actually damaged by a bomb. Scoggins, a registered nurse who served in Desert Storm, had reached out to Nintendo Power, a magazine owned by Nintendo, requesting a replacement Game Boy. He had simply stated that his Game Boy had been “claimed by a fire while I was stationed in the Middle East.” Nintendo Power’s editors, upon receiving the device, initially believed it to be beyond repair. However, to their surprise, the Game Boy still functioned after they inserted a Tetris Game Pak, connected a Battery Pak, and turned on the power switch. The Control Pad and A and B Buttons had melted, but the Start and Select Buttons worked perfectly. In recognition of this extraordinary resilience, Nintendo replaced Scoggins’ Game Boy as a special gesture related to “Desert Storm.”
Scoggins clarifies that the incident involved a fire, not a bombing. He explains that “it wasn’t a bombing, it was that the tent burned down.” It appears that two separate events were conflated in the legend surrounding the Gulf War Game Boy. While there was indeed a bombing at the location, Scoggins emphasizes that it was not the one he was involved in. Further discussions with Scoggins regarding his Game Boy are forthcoming.
Nintendo’s public relations team has not provided an immediate comment on the Gulf War Game Boy. However, it is safe to say that regardless of whether it was damaged by a bomb or a fire, this legendary device deserves a place in a museum.
Update, 8:18 PM ET: It has been reported that Elliot Coll visited the store in February and discovered that the Gulf War Game Boy was already missing.