Illustration for article titled Nintendo Cracked Open Its Secret Game Boy Stash to Help a 95-Year-Old Fan
Photo: Andrew Liszewski (Gizmodo)

Nintendo is known for its excellent customer service, but now and then the company will go above and beyond the call of duty for special cases. When technicians couldn’t fix a 95-year-old Japan woman’s dead Game Boy, the company replaced it with a brand new one, leading us to wonder just how many original Game Boys Nintendo has stashed away?

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According to SoraNews24, a story published in Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s national newspapers, shared the details of a letter sent to them by Kuniko Tsusaka, the 70-year-old daughter of the woman who is now the proud owner of a sought after piece of gaming tech. Tsusaka’s mother loved playing Tetris on the original Game Boy, and was on her third original handheld when it stopped working around the same time the 95-year-old woman had fallen ill. The original Game Boy was discontinued in 2003, however, and it became impossible to find a brand new replacement in local stores, and attempts to have the broken console repaired were unsuccessful.

Tsusaka’s son, the 95-year-old woman’s grandson, told his grandmother that Nintendo was known for its excellent customer service, and recommended she reach out to the company for help. She did, with a handwritten letter that was sent off in the mail. A week later Nintendo’s customer support responded, confirming that her Game Boy was beyond repair because the company no longer had the requisite parts, but with the response they included a brand new Game Boy the company had found in a warehouse, along with a letter wishing that she’d have many more years to play Tetris.

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Tsusaka’s mother was able to enjoy her new Game Boy for at least four years before eventually passing away at the age of 99, presumably with an impressive Tetris high score as part of many legacies she left behind. It’s a lovely story and a reminder that not every company has completely outsourced its tech support to warehouses full of cubicle-dwelling phone jockeys who aren’t really concerned about genuinely helping people who call in. But it raises a few questions. Just how many original Game Boys is Nintendo still hoarding, and can I get my grandmother hooked on Tetris until my scratched, knicked, and barely functional original Game Boy kicks the bucket? Would they send her a new replacement too?

The original Game Boy’s screen is also notoriously awful, with just 23,000-plus pixels on screen and contrast levels that make it a challenge to play even under a lamp. Couldn’t Nintendo have sent Tsusaka’s grandmother a Switch as a replacement? Or at least a New Nintendo 2DS XL, with its giant and bright screen as a better alternative that would presumably be a lot easier on her aging eyes? When you’ve got a loyal customer that’s already been through three copies of your product, it might be time to give them a free upgrade.

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