News Article

Planet Virtual Boy Founder Explains His Passion for Nintendo's Failed System

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"It's like digital archaeology"

The Virtual Boy was, for a sustained period, ignored and essentially wiped from Nintendo's history — it was only released in Japan and North America and flopped, with only 22 official games making it to market. The company's stance has softened in recent times, with the system making cameo appearances in quirky 3DS games such as Animal Crossing: New Leaf and the upcoming Tomodachi Life. The system has never been truly dead due to dedicated enthusiasts, too, with Planet Virtual Boy being a stand-out example.

Planet VB not only documents the history of the Virtual Boy, but has also co-ordinated community efforts to finish un-released games — such as Bound High — and even created all-new titles. The site's founder, Christian Radke, explained his reasoning for the project in a recent article in EDGE magazine.

One thing I enjoy almost as much as a good game of building websites is researching and documenting niche videogame systems and their history. Searching through old magazines and websites, talking to former developers, looking at game binaries for cut content, unearthing previously unknown details, finding images of unreleased games — it's like digital archaeology.

...Compared to most other consoles, there's a manageable amount of Virtual Boy-related things. Getting it all together is very possible, be it in the form of a complete collection of games [22 were released], hardware and merchandise, or complete informational coverage, like on Planet VB.

Despite its failure when launched, there's a little life still in the Virtual Boy. Let us know what you think of Radke's comments and Planet VB, and you can always check out our making of the Virtual Boy feature from 2010. As a bonus, below is a Japanese promotion VHS for the system recently uploaded by Planet VB.

[via planetvb.com, edge-online.com]

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User Comments (23)

StarDust4Ever

#2

StarDust4Ever said:

Meh. I played 15 minutes of Wario Land VB when I was in high school. Honestly, it was pretty neat. It would be cool if Nintendo released these relics on 3DS VC, but with them de-emphasizing the 3D capabilities, it will probably never happen. :'(

TwilightV

#3

TwilightV said:

This is truly what it means to be a game historian. All hail the Virtual Boy!

MagicEmperor

#4

MagicEmperor said:

A tragically beautiful thing. Thanks for this. I never even heard of Planet VB before this article.

ICHIkatakuri

#5

ICHIkatakuri said:

I still have mine boxed and hidden upstairs away from the kids grubby hands. Got it for £40 on import with teleroboxer a month after it was abandoned.

KevTastic84

#6

KevTastic84 said:

I played on one for the first time this year at GEEK2014. Only had Mario Tennis, but it was a capable game. I can imagine long term sessions would ruin the eyes and your sitting position isn't all that comfortable.

Chi

#9

Chi said:

The story of VB is a tragedy. Love the system and games, its potential was never realized, died way too young. RIP VB- we barely knew you :'(

GeminiSaint

#10

GeminiSaint said:

I'm a proud owner of a Virtual Boy and Wario Land VB (which, by the way, should be ported to the 3DS in some way, ASAP).

WhiteTrashGuy

#11

WhiteTrashGuy said:

It really was such an oddity. I remember my friend Larry getting one at launch. RED ALARM tickled my fancy quite a bit. A few years ago we had a retro game weekend at my friend Gavin's. He set up a VB station complete with 2 VB'S taped to a table and 6 games. Some of our friends had never even heard of the VB. It was a treat seeing their reactions to it. Most of them thought it was pretty amazing. Especially their girlfriends.

timtimdaunholy

#12

timtimdaunholy said:

my brother had one when the discontinued it and i did beat warioland. I do have bad eyes that may have contributed

DerpSandwich

#13

DerpSandwich said:

Still got mine in a box! I loved playing Mario Tennis, and probably would have bought other games if I had ever seen any for sale. My eyes never got tired, though the skin around them did get awfully sweaty.

sdelfin

#15

sdelfin said:

I can definitely relate to digging into the deeper details of hardware and discovering old information from magazines and such. I've read up on a lot of arcade hardware, PC Engine and Genesis stuff fairly recently.

ennan

#17

ennan said:

I love my virtual boy. The controller is really comfy. The headset is unwieldy and the display is gash but it is fun. A lot of fun. You just can't play it for long without the screens fogging up and putting a knot in your neck.

KnightRider666

#19

KnightRider666 said:

@xevious: Same here. Among other games, I had a complete US version of Jack Bros. I wish they would just release the entire VB library on the 3DS VC.

daveh30

#22

daveh30 said:

I really enjoyed my VB, and regret ever selling it.. (like i regret selling all my other old Nintendo games...) Every time I fill out a Club Nintendo survey for a VC game,i request VB games on the 3DS VC. Seems like a perfect fit. People complained about the VB hardware a lot, but some of the games were actually quite good for the time... 3DS would be a perfect way to let people experience these games, as they were intended, without having to deal with the unwieldy console.

sevex

#23

sevex said:

I grabbed one of these for cheap on eBay back when old video games were just old video games. Pretty glad I did, it's such a cool unique device. And the way it's designed makes it a perfect shelf decoration or conversation piece!

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