Nintendo’s Game Boy turns 25

BY Justin Scuiletti  April 21, 2014 at 7:49 PM EDT

Game_Boy

It was more or less muscle memory: put in a fresh pair of double-A batteries, slide in the square, gray cartridge of your favorite game into the open slot, then flip on the little power switch on the top.

The original North American box of the Game Boy. Photo by Flickr user Michel Ngilen

The original North American box of the Game Boy. Photo by Flickr user Michel Ngilen

Then, it was time to smile as the red light fired up on the left side of the green-tinted LCD screen as the word “Nintendo” descended from the top of the screen and stopped in place with a quick two-tone musical cue.

Now, it was game time — from the comfort of anywhere you wanted to play.

The Game Boy, Nintendo’s portable video game console, celebrated 25 years Monday. The handheld originally launched in Japan on April 21, 1989, selling out its initial run of 300,000 units in the first two weeks. Four months later, when the Game Boy was released in North America at the price of $89.99, 40,000 units flew off the shelves in its first day.

A 1989 U.S. commercial for the Game Boy

The success of the Game Boy ultimately led to a family of successors. A more compact version of the console, the Game Boy Pocket, launched in 1996. The Game Boy Color, a new version of the console featured a color screen, was released in 1998. In 2001, the Game Boy entered a new iteration as the Game Boy Advance made its debut, offering more powerful hardware, with different versions of the Advance arriving in 2003 and 2005.

The numerous iterations of the Game Boy over the years. Photo by Flickr user walknboston

The numerous iterations of the Game Boy over the years. Photo by Flickr user walknboston

The Game Boy line officially was discontinued by Nintendo in 2008 with the launch of their DS portable console line, but its impact on video game history is unmistakable. Since 1989, the Game Boy and Game Boy Color combined have sold over 118 million units worldwide. In 2009, the console was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

So, anybody up for a round of Tetris?