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The Sad Fate of the Virtual Boy

Nintendo's ill-fated system, the "Virtual Boy" was set to be one of the company's most ambitious products in the world of gaming, and it built up a lot of hype around me and my classmates from school. It was supposed to be a revolutionary new take on impressing consumers with its use of 32-bit graphics, eye-popping 3D effects, and games you won't find on any other console.

In a December 1994 issue of Nintendo Power, coverage was given on how the Virtual Boy (known as the VR32 at the time) would show depth with its 3D with the titles that would get released for it.

The system actually wouldn't see a release until August of '95 with information still being given by the magazine. I remember when my classmates in school at the time were both excited and a bit skeptical at the same time regarding the red and black colors onscreen. I myself was a bit hesitant as I was used to playing the green and white colors on Game Boy, and full color on game consoles. 

I unfortunately wasn't lucky enough to get my parents to buy one, but I did chance upon going to our local Blockbuster video rental store to try it out. A line was formed by the entrance to have players playing two of the games, Mario's Tennis, Mario Clash, and Virtual Boy Wario Land, considered by some to be the best game on the system.

Nintendo Power readers were treated to renting a Virtual Boy system with three games for three nights, that is if they had $10 on them for cost.

It was at this time that the Virtual Boy finally got to be shown off and.... reactions were mixed at best, not just for those that came into stores to play it from kiosks, but game magazine journalists and others had similar criticisms across the board, and even some of my classmates had second thoughts about it.

Why? Well there were a handful of reasons. First off, the Virtual Boy didn't exactly have games that defined the term "virtual reality", as they're meant to provide a first person view giving the player the perspective of being in the action from that view. Only two games accomplished this, Teleroboxer, a futuristic boxing game, and Red Alarm, when you change the camera to a cockpit view.

Second, looking into the system for too long could cause both eye strain and headaches if played for a long period of time. The instruction booklet packaged with the Virtual Boy came with quite a number of warnings of playing it, even saying that very young children shouldn't be playing from it.

Advertisements for the Virtual Boy also had consumers scratching their heads. Showing almost no gameplay and being shown in a location to what was seen as a post-apocalyptic world, it wasn't enough to bring in more buyers.

In total, the U.S. only got 14 games before the Virtual Boy ended in failure, and by 1996 the Nintendo 64 was already doing the favor of pushing the little red thing out the door while it and Super Mario 64 were being shown off next at Blockbuster.

Did you ever get to try out the Virtual Boy before it faded away from shelves? Leave a comment and as always, see you next article!

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Mr Magic Posted on Sep 05, 2022 at 11:02 PM

Definitely sounds inviting.

I tried the Virtual Boy at a Blockbuster kiosk one time. I was playing some kind of tennis game. I don't think I've used Virtual Boy after that.

Benjanime Posted on Sep 05, 2022 at 04:04 PM

@Mr Magic

i currently own an oculus quest 2, it's a pretty neat headset as it doesn't require PC to play games, relying on its own hardware. the only downside is that some games can look like they have outdated graphics, so you have to look in the right direction for games that look more visually pleasing. also, there's a virtual boy emulator on it!

Mr Magic Posted on Sep 04, 2022 at 12:39 AM

Ben, have you tried a VR head set outside of the Virtual Boy? If so, is it any better?

Julie Posted on Sep 02, 2022 at 04:42 PM

Unfortunately I didn't have the Virtual Boy experience. It's an intriguing console, the power of the 32-bit processing and the exciting novelty of the possible Virtual Reality experience. But after a few weeks, the bad news of the monochromatic red graphics and the headaches. A pity because the idea was amazing for the time.

Great, passionate and charismatic article as always, honey. I love you, my @Benjanime!❤❤

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