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Happy 25th Birthday, Game Boy

Image: JAPAN-ENTERTAINMENT-GAME-COMPANY-NINTENDO
This picture taken on April 17, 2014 shows a customer looking at a large mock-up of videogame console Game Boy at a videogame shop in Tokyo, while a large figure of Nintendo's character Super Mario stands.YOSHIKAZU TSUNO / AFP - Getty Images

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If you were a kid back in 1989, chances are you really, really wanted a Game Boy.

The portable gaming system was released 25 years ago on Monday in Japan. Four months later, it was released in the United States with Tetris, an incredibly addictive Russian puzzle game that would go on to sell 35 million copies.

Image: JAPAN-ENTERTAINMENT-GAME-COMPANY-NINTENDO
This picture taken on April 17, 2014 shows a customer looking at a large mock-up of videogame console Game Boy at a videogame shop in Tokyo, while a large figure of Nintendo's character Super Mario stands.YOSHIKAZU TSUNO / AFP - Getty Images

Kids today can download Angry Birds onto their iPhone in a matter of seconds. Back in the 1980s, they were confined to the LCD screens of the Game & Watch series. The controls were limited, the graphics awful and the games were not interchangeable. That means once you bought Flagman, you were stuck with it until you got bored with it — which, considering it was a game centered around a stationary man who raised flags, was probably pretty quickly.

Then Game Boy came out. Not only did it have a directional pad similar to that of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, released in 1985, it also let you switch out games at your leisure and even play with other people through a link cable.

Eventually, Game Boy and its successor, Game Boy Color, would go on to sell more than 118 million units worldwide. Those gave way to portables like the Nintendo 3Ds and the PlayStation Vita, plus the rise of smartphone gaming.

So happy birthday and thank you, Game Boy, for teaching a generation to totally zone out and ignore their parents for hours at a time.

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