Between 1989 and 2006 Nintendo released four main Game Boy cartridge types. This guide describes the main differences between them in terms of appearance and console compatibility. The photographs include a United Kingdom twenty pence piece (about 22mm diameter) to give an indication of scale.
Game Boy and Game Boy Pocket
The original Game Boy and the Game Boy Pocket share the same cartridge type, measuring about 55mm wide by 60mm high and 7mm thick. The casing is opaque plastic, usually grey or yellow.
These cartridges can be played in all consoles except the Game Boy Micro.
Game Boy Color (backwards compatible)
The introduction of the Game Boy Color in 1998 spawned two new cartridge types, one of which (depicted here) was backwards compatible with the Game Boy and Game Boy Pocket. The casing is usually opaque black plastic and shares the same dimensions as the Game Boy cartridges described above. Note the small notch in the top-right-hand corner: this enables it to function in the Game Boy and Game Boy Pocket.
This type of cartridge can be used in all consoles except the Game Boy Micro.
Game Boy Color (not backwards compatible)
The other type of Game Boy Color cartridge, depicted here, is the same size as its predecessors above but lacks the small notch in the top-right-hand corner, and thus cannot be used in the Game Boy or Game Boy Pocket consoles. Another feature distinguishing it from similarly sized cartridges is its transparent plastic casing.
This type of cartridge can be used in the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP consoles.
Game Boy Advance
The most recent addition to the Game Boy cartridge family is the Game Boy Advance cartridge, introduced in 2001. Notably smaller than the other cartridge types (about 60mm wide by 35mm high and 6mm thick) it comes in a variety of opaque and transparent colours.
This cartridge type is compatible with the Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Advance SP and Game Boy Micro consoles only.