News Article

The Virtual Boy is 19 Years Old, Probably Hasn't Received a Celebratory Cake

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

We still love it

The Virtual Boy is 19 years old in North America today, having arrived in the region on 14th August 1995. It doesn't have a European anniversary to celebrate, as it never had a release in the region.

It's a system that shows us a few aspects of Nintendo that remain today, in some ways representing its key strengths. Nintendo consistently looks to bring new ways to enjoy games to the market, innovating with its controllers, accessories and general concepts. It's keen to immerse gamers in the experience. Finally, the company is able to suffer a failed platform yet move on to impressive levels of success with other systems.

The Virtual Boy was perhaps ahead of its time, attempting to use Virtual Reality and 3D technology before it was fully ready. Its design is also attributed as a cause of failure, though the narrative persists that it was pushed out of the door before the legendary designer Gunpei Yokoi felt it was ready; it would be Yokoi-san's last project for the company.

For a number of years it was left ignored by Nintendo, airbrushed from history, but in recent times it's appeared in games such as Tomodachi Life as a peculiar shrine around which Mii characters dance in praise of the device, and there's a Virtual Boy hat in StreetPass. It's part of Nintendo's history again, albeit treated as a peculiar oddity rather than a pillar of the company's story of gaming industry domination. We still love it though, and it has pride of place in our very own Nintendo shrine — we're only half kidding — here in Nintendo Life HQ.

So here's to you, Virtual Boy. 19 years old today. If you want more details on this quirky system check out our Virtual Boy hardware classics feature.

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User Comments (52)

Pichuka97

#1

Pichuka97 said:

I'm currently looking for one so I can play VB Wario Land. Since I'm not really bothered by 3D, I think I could stand playing the VB for a while without a break.

ToneDeath

#3

ToneDeath said:

That Wario Land game, remastered with a bit more colour, would go down pretty well on the 3DS eShop I think.

midnafanboy

#4

midnafanboy said:

Happy birthday!! Virtual Boy!! No one loved you, but damn i don't know what to say though.

ekreig

#5

ekreig said:

Yeah, I think I even found a Virtual Boy in New Leaf at one point. XD

It's pretty fun to see Nintendo poke fun at the device instead of pretending it doesn't exist, anyhow.

Mk_II

#6

Mk_II said:

Although the VB was indeed never released in Europe (now there's one advantage of staggered releases for ya!) there is one on display at the headquarters of Nintendo Benelux here in the Netherlands.

Luigifan141

#8

Luigifan141 said:

I'm actually a proud owner of a complete Virtual Boy collection! I think I'm going to play all of my games until my eyes only see red and black. ;)

Untitled

GeminiSaint

#9

GeminiSaint said:

I own a Virtual Boy and a couple games, including Mario Clash and Wario Land. Which, again, should be playable on the 3DS, either in emulated form or as a straight port. Make it happen, Nintendo.

SuperMikey

#12

SuperMikey said:

Why didn't you guys wait one more year for the 20th anniversary to do this article? It probably could've been more special...

aaronsullivan

#13

aaronsullivan said:

@SuperMikey It wouldn't have gotten hits today then. :P

It was a cool idea but there was a point where someone should have said, "this just won't sell!" My biggest question was always, "Where do I play this?" You can't take it with you, it doesn't hook up to a TV. You can't go off into a corner to yourself like with a GameBoy. So, on a table or desk somewhere. Another downfall, you can't even show anyone where you are in the game or share the experience really at all.

They should really release the games on the 3DS somehow. That would be pretty cool. :) Probably the 3DS screen has a resolution too low, though. lol.

Anguspuss

#14

Anguspuss said:

i remember a friend had one & it was awfull also as per the 3ds I cant see the 3d efffect very well It just looked like a horrible red flicker instead

NintendoFan64

#15

NintendoFan64 said:

I actually want to give VB Wario Land a try. Maybe Nintendo could release some games on Virtual Console. Otherwise I'm probably just gonna download a rom (I'd buy a system and cartridge, but I kind of don't want to go blind).

daveh30

#16

daveh30 said:

I always liked the VB... Don't understand why they won't to VB games on 3DS VC. Seems like a perfect fit.

ShadJV

#17

ShadJV said:

For the 20th anniversary, I propose the announcement of the VB2, with Nintendo shifting all resources to it.

Or maybe VB on VC. That works too.

Zobocop

#18

Zobocop said:

Hate to have to correct you, but Gunpei Yokoi designed the Game Boy Pocket after the Virtual Boy.

rdrunner1178

#19

rdrunner1178 said:

@ShadJV
Yeah that would be great. There are some good games on Virtual Boy that would go perfect with the 3DS 3-D effect. They could even leave the red color.

Zobocop

#20

Zobocop said:

@Luigifan141

Complete US collection you mean (and one Japanese title). Besides, it's not complete without the box and manuals for each. Get to it! :)

ennan

#21

ennan said:

I love my virtual boy and everyone I've introduced it to has had an immense amount of fun because of it's particular oddness. Strapping that big massive red box to your dome and play Wario - Wario for gods sake! He's even weirder than Mario! Oh Yas! I got a fire breathing hat! Aw no lost my fire breathing hat... It's hilarious to watch people play it and having them give a commentary of what they are experiencing
Another fun thing to do is to have someone else use the headset whilst you control the game. They have to give you commands. It requires a great amount of communication and teamwork but is very rewarding if you get through a level.

MoonKnight7

#23

MoonKnight7 said:

I never had a Virtual Boy, but I am the proud owner of a digital one in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. :)

In all seriousness though, it would be cool if they could bring some games to VC via the 3DS. It's a match made in heaven!

allav866

#24

allav866 said:

Virtual Boy on VC would need an option to change the colors to make it easier on the eyes. That said, I'd try the classic red/black scheme at least once.

millarrp

#26

millarrp said:

It's too bad they couldn't remaster some of the more interesting Virtual Boy games to the 3DS to celebrate...

k8sMum

#30

k8sMum said:

@Imagamerboi

Why would anyone have it, except as a collectable? It was utter crap. It's the one nintendo system my kids didn't get. I thought it more important to preserve their vision than play the games.

Nostalgia glasses don't help this baby. It was bad and ninty blew it. My AC:NL one is enuff for me.

MakeMyBiscuit

#31

MakeMyBiscuit said:

That colorized screen shot of Wario Land looks INCREDIBLE! I have wanted colorized versions of Virtual Boy games since the original 3DS was first released. I'm still waiting for the Sega Scope 3D games to come to the e-shop.

GamerZack87

#35

GamerZack87 said:

"For a number of years it was left ignored by Nintendo, airbrushed from history"

@ThomasBW84 It did make an appearance in Pokémon Gold and Silver as a hidden room decoration, however. The only way to get one is through Mystery Gift, so I imagine only a handful of lucky Trainers managed to get their hands on one. ;)

"It doesn't have a European anniversary to celebrate, as it never had a release in the region."

That's why I'd never heard of it until the early 00's, when I was reading my bro's Pokémon Crystal strategy guide: I was reading up about all the goodies you could earn for your bedroom through Mystery Gift, and amongst the assortment of consoles from the venerable NES to the classic Nintendo 64, I saw the words "Virtual Boy". For a long time I wondered what these two words meant, only to eventually discover the truth. :O

Now I'd like to see these games released on 3DS as either VC titles or 3D Classics, possibly with optional full-colour mode. :D

ecco6t9

#37

ecco6t9 said:

eShop touch ups is the best way for Nintendo to milk the Virtual Boy. Secondly they might finish some of those Virtual Boy games that they were working on.

2Sang

#38

2Sang said:

Would be cool to remake some of these games with real 3d and put em on the eshop like the NES 3d classics.

eltomo

#39

eltomo said:

Happy Birthday! I've never seen one of these with my own eyes, and it doesn't bother me in the slightest.

DinoFett

#40

DinoFett said:

Got my Virtual-Boy the year it was released. Believe it or not I got the console just for 'Waterworld'. Bought a bunch of games for it, It's near mint with box and instructions as well as some of the carts.

Iggly

#42

Iggly said:

I'd love them to put the Virtual Boy Wario Land on VC, but I have a feeling that will never happen.

Kolzig

#43

Kolzig said:

All the Virtual Boy games should come to 3DS Virtual Console. Have them have the crazy red&black coloring, but also do a palette swap and have other color option for example white and black or green and black in the style of Gameboy.

These games need and extra life and on 3DS VC these would be perfect!

Artwark

#45

Artwark said:

I can't understand the failure difference between the Virtual Boy and the Wii U. So why was it that Nintendo made the virtual boy knowing that it won't do well and had to cancel it to disappoint others? Did that moment made people angry at that time? I mean what happened to those who bought the VB? Did Nintendo somehow made it up to them?

Artwark

#46

Artwark said:

@Kolzig I won't say that they should come but I can say that they should consider having remakes like that Wario Land game for the VB only with color instead of red and black.

Prime

#48

Prime said:

Happy Birthday to the probable grandfather of virtual reality, woo!

evosteevo

#50

evosteevo said:

A Zelda game would have helped the Virtual Boy sell. I heard it gave some people health issues. Seizures or something like that. I don't think Nintendo wanted the reputation of supporting a system that could cause problems like that. It really is unique experience, though.

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