As if you needed another reminder that you’re getting old, today is the 25th Anniversary of what was most likely your best friend on long car trips, the school bus, vacations, and long trips to the bathroom — the Nintendo Game Boy.
Released in Japan on April 21st, 1989, the revolutionary device wouldn’t hit American shores until almost 3 months later in July. Originally packaged with Tetris, the greatest thing to come out of the Soviet Union since Yakov Smirnoff, the console cost $89.99 and sold out its entire stock of 300,000 within two weeks in Japan. In the U.S., it sold 400,000 in a single day, and sold out of the first shipment of one million units in weeks.
Fun Facts: There were 718 games released for the Game Boy, the console vastly outsold its technologically-superior competitors, the Atari Lynx and Sega Game Gear, there were four major redesigns of the Game Boy (“Play it Loud!,” Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light and the Game Boy Color), and combined, they sold a staggering 118.69 million units, still the third-best-selling video game console behind Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Game Boy’s “little brother,” the Nintendo DS. The console’s best-selling titles are Tetris and Pokémon Red and Blue, and wasn’t officially discontinued until 2003, wrapping up a 14-year lifespan. The Game Boy also invented the “Selfie” as early as 1998 with the release of the “Game Boy Camera.” So if you want to blame someone for #Selfie, blame Nintendo.
I’m sure we all remember our first Game Boy. I know I sure do. I’m pretty sure my Mom fought off Poké-mania during Hanukkah ’98 to snag a Game Boy color, and slapped a copy of Pokémon Red out of another woman’s hands to make sure I didn’t have the worst Hanukkah on the block. As I shredded through the wrapping paper and saw that Atomic Purple translucent system staring back at me, I knew I’d never love anything that unconditionally ever again.
After burning through enough AA batteries to fill a small garbage dump, my GameBoy Color’s glory days are long gone, resting in a place of honor — the top drawer in my night table of my childhood bedroom. But next time I’m home, I think I’ll check in with my old friend, and see how he’s held up over the years. Maybe beat up Bowser, crush some Tetris or kick the Elite Four’s asses.
Cheers, Game Boy. Thanks for the memories.