What a clumsy device to handle!

It may rank as one of Nintendo’s biggest mistakes but the ill-fated Virtual Boy is finally getting a new lease of life thanks to the company’s retro download portal.

In a press release expected tomorrow Nintendo will confirm that the much-maligned console is to be added to the line-up that currently includes such past classics as the SNES and Megadrive/Genesis. We've been handed the information early thanks to a source within Nintendo of America, who understandly has asked to remain nameless.

The Virtual Boy was produced by Gameboy creator Gunpei Yokoi in 1995 and was a catastrophic failure, prompting Yokoi’s ignominious departure from the company. It was supposed to offer realistic 3D visuals not entirely dissimilar to those seen in ‘Virtual Reality’ style games, but the results were less than impressive; the unit was too bulky to be portable and users complained of headaches after prolonged play. Although the console saw a US release, it never made it to European shores so this could be the first chance Euro Nintendo fans will have to experience this unique machine.

Mario's Tennis lacked the charm of the later games in the series.

Yokoi would later help design Bandai’s Gameboy rival The Wonderswan and was tragically killed in a car accident in 1997; sadly the spectre of the Virtual Boy still hangs over his name, despite the amazing success he enjoyed with the Gameboy.

Given the unique nature of the console, one might question how well suited it is for play on a normal television set, but apparently those clever chaps at Nintendo have found a workaround. There will be an option to play the game in ‘faux-3D’ and use a pair of those cheap cardboard 3D glasses that are usually handed out whenever you go to see a film at the cinema that happens to boast 3D visuals. If you don’t fancy looking like a fool then you can simply play without the 3D effect enabled, although we would imagine the appeal is noticeable lessened.

Nintendo hasn’t confirmed exactly when Virtual Boy software will become available on the service but we would expect it to be in the next few months. Watch this space.