Yesterday marked the 19th anniversary of the North American release of the humble Virtual Boy. The gaming device, which was sadly never released in PAL territories, was released on August 14, 1995 amid the growing popularity of virtual reality and 3D.

In some ways, this makes the Virtual Boy well ahead of its time, creating a “portable” version of much larger virtual reality devices. Unfortunately, it was literally ahead of its time, released too soon, with the technology not quite there. Ultimately, the Virtual Boy suffered from poor sales until it was quietly discontinued in early 1996.

The system saw 14 games released in the US over the course of seven months, its last game being 3D Tetris, which was released on March 22, 1996. Other notable entries included Bomberman: Panic Bomber, Mario Clash, Mario’s Tennis, and Virtual Boy Wario Land. There were plenty of games in development that were left unfinished and unreleased, such as new Star Fox and Mario Kart titles.

Since then, the system has remained in the shadows of history, forever relegated to the past as a failed experiment in technology. Nintendo has, of course, gone on to deliver other experimental systems that have paid off to see true success, such as the Wii and DS consoles, and this is one of the reasons that we love Nintendo – they exist outside of the box and are not afraid to try something new.

Were you one of the 700,000 or so US owners of the Virtual Boy? Let us know your thoughts on the device in the comments section. The rest of us will have to suffice with the Virtual Boy hat in Street Pass, or as part of the Mii shrine in Tomodachi Life.

Happy anniversary, Virtual Boy!