Tetris for the original Nintendo Game Boy
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Credit: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Nintendo digs deep to replace 95-year-old grandmother’s broken Game Boy

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Feb 27, 2020, 3:32 AM EST (Updated)

When was the last time you picked up an original, 1990s-vintage Game Boy? For even the biggest of Nintendo fans, the 8-bit era of monochrome screens and bleep-bloop musical tracks has long been but a hazy memory, having been discontinued in 2003. But for one fan, a 95-year-old woman with a fondness for Tetris, the old-school console never really went away — until very recently, when her cherished handheld finally decided to give up the ghost for good.

Via a Gizmodo pickup of a story that went viral after first appearing in Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, Kuniko Tsusaka, the woman’s 70-year-old daughter, explained how her 95-year-old mother — a huge Tetris fan — had always been nearly inseparable from her old Game Boy device, and how she’d come to appreciate the block-stacking game even more after falling ill.

Unfortunately, the Game Boy (the third one she’d bought, so long as the consoles remained on Japanese store shelves) pooped out around the same time that the woman got sick. That left her with no way to play Tetris, and — after a thorough search of local stores by Tsusaka and her own adult son — without any options to find a replacement Game Boy for sale.

What happened next should win the Big N plenty of brownie points (or maybe Mario stars) when it comes to customer service. On the advice of her grandson, the woman penned a handwritten letter to Nintendo and sent it along with her broken Game Boy, in the hope that the company might at least point her in the right direction to find a way to get her beloved device fixed.

But instead of the usual customer service back-and-forth, Nintendo reportedly responded within a week — not by pointing the woman to the nearest repair store, but by sending along a brand-new Game Boy replacement. The shiny new device came accompanied by a letter from Nintendo explaining that they’d found the machine after a little digging in one of their warehouses, and that a full replacement was the only option, since replacement Game Boy parts were no longer available.

Nintendo also wished the woman many more years of life to continue enjoying Tetris, and sure enough, the grateful grandmother continued to play until she reportedly passed away at the age of 99. Kuniko Tsusaka related her mother’s entire story to the newspaper as a fond memory, so there’s no word on exactly when the heartwarming exchange happened. But we’ll never be able to play Tetris again without wondering how badly we’d have lost to the 95-year-old woman who had Nintendo in her corner.


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