According to the history books, the Virtual Boy is Nintendo's biggest failure — both commercially and critically — in the hardware arena. Launched in 1995 to almost complete consumer apathy, it bypassed Europe entirely and was discontinued the following year. It is also thought to be the reason that creator Gunpei Yokoi — who was also responsible for the Game Boy — was ousted from the company. Failure within Nintendo wasn't treated with sympathy during Hiroshi Yamauchi's tenure, and Yokoi would go on to mastermind the Bandai WonderSwan before tragically losing his life in a road-traffic accident. The Virtual Boy is seen by many as a blight on his otherwise impressive CV, but in recent years consumer confidence in the system has improved.
Even so, the Virtual Boy remains an odd system. Neither portable nor truly domestic, the console occupies a strange middle ground; it's small enough to move around the house or even take over to a friend's, and it runs off AA batteries, which implies portability. However, it's also a long way from being a mobile gaming platform. You need a flat surface and chair to use it, and it's so bulky we can't imagine many people would feel comfortable about taking it out of the house. The console itself resembles a chunky VR headset, with its vibrant red casing matching the equally red viewing experience that lies within. Rumour has it that Nintendo picked red LEDs for the console because they were cheaper to produce and placed a modest demand on the batteries (an adapter is also available which allows you to run the system from the mains). Infamously, the console caused many players to experience painful headaches during use, something which predictably didn't help the console's commercial fortunes back in the mid-1990s.
Given the short lifespan of the Virtual Boy, it should come as no great surprise to learn that very few games were produced for the console. The entire library consists of 22 officially-released titles — 19 in Japan and 14 in the US (amazingly, even though it has such a limited selection of games, the Virtual Boy is home to not one but two versions of Tetris). Of these games, Virtual Boy Wario Land is generally considered to be the best of the bunch, with honourable mentions also going to the likes of 3D Tetris and Vertical Force. Unreleased titles like Bound High and Faceball are finally getting physical launches thanks to the efforts of dedicated fans, proving that the console still has followers out there, despite its rather dire reputation.
As is often the case when it comes to retro gaming collectables, the Virtual Boy's chequered history means that it's perfect fodder for enthusiasts, and unsurprisingly the system is steadily growing in value on the second-hand market. Boxed systems — once sold for next-to-nothing by North American retailers — are now commanding prices well in excess of their original RRP. Loose consoles are also worth a fair amount, although you should ensure that all of the original parts are included before parting with your cash — many second-hand Virtual Boys are lacking either the stand or the fabric eyepiece, both of which can be removed from the main console itself. It's also worth noting that the stand is prone to cracking, and finding a pristine example today is easier said than done. Finally, due to their age Virtual Boy consoles often fall foul to screen issues caused by the cables inside the unit working loose.
Given that Nintendo has made reference to the Virtual Boy in games like Wario Ware, it's safe to assume that the company's once-chilly stance on its biggest hardware failure has thawed somewhat — Shigeru Miyamoto himself has even admitted that Virtual Boy games could make their way to the 3DS Virtual Console, which seems like the perfect place for them given the system's auto-stereoscopic screen. Despite its position as the black sheep of the Nintendo family, the Virtual Boy offers something that you simply won't find anywhere else. It may have a small collection of games, be unwieldy to use and cause migraines, but it's a console every self-respecting Nintendo fan needs to witness in the flesh at least once in their lifetimes.
ha ha, I'd be surprised if i ever get to use one let alone see one
Space Squash, 3D Tetris, Mario Tennis … some really good games, but I hope they will not bring it to Virtual Console.
Hey would be new and nice to have it on 3DS
Ah, the VB... Own one of these myself and it's a very strange system. I haven't really got that many games for it but I'm quite fond of Red Alarm. Also, I can honestly say it's never given me, or anyone else played mine, a headache. I seriously wish Nintendo would start releasing some of it's games on 3DS Virtual Console, especially Wario Land as I would really like to play that.
I got to play one when I was a kid. I remember being really excited about it. People complained about the red lights shining in their eyes, but it was much easier to see the game you were playing on a virtual boy than on the original game boy.
My VB has pride of place in my home, and looks just as new today. It is such an oddity everyone asks what it is. Shame it is not comfortable to play on for any length of time.
I have a Virtual Boy and I love it. It was truely underrated. Yea the games were in red and black but it makes them look kinda awesome and the 3D was great. I never experienced headaches with Virtual Boy or 3DS for that matter. I would absolutely LOVE to have VB games on the 3DS! What are you waiting for Nintendo?
I've had mine since 1995, and it's the only Nintendo console I never really wanted to collect games for--only had tennis. An odd visual experience is an understatement, but it's unforgettable. Not to contradict the article, but mine has always had an AC connection--never once powered by battery (it could). And as for the complaints .. never hurt my head, really gives a beating to your neck! I could never find a way to play comfortably.
With my 3D hindsight glasses on, this is what Nintendo should have done.
They should have taken the black and white Vectrex CRT unit and modified it in the following ways.
Firstly, replace the white phosphor with the standard red CRT phoshor P22. Secondly, make the CRT work in landscape (horizontal) mode instead of portrait (vertical) mode. Thirdly, use LCD shutterglasses to watch the vector type display in field sequential 3D format. Fourthly, magnifying goggle lenses could be placed over the wide screen display to give an enhanced depth effect for virtual reality viewing.
Why? Because red phosphors in CRT displays work excellently in 3D without ghosting or flicker AND it could have all been done with technology available at the time. Its all too late now.
I guess the controller was pretty cool for the Virtual Boy.
I wanna play as Nester on my 3DS.
Years ago, a pre-Gamestop in my area had the system, new, for 75 cents, and each game was 25 cents. Should have bought ten or more of them when I had the chance...
I still have my neatly packed away in my storage shed. Maybe its time I should pull it out and run through Wario Land.
Where's my VB Wario Land for 3DS?
@Nintendojuenger And why shouldn't they?
Virtual Boys are rare nowadays and not to mention VERY expensive if found complete and in mint condition, so if there were some great games on it that could work on 3DS, why not? It would at the least introduce younger gamers to the '3D legacy' that Nintendo already has: some older gamers or techies will remember that besides the Virtual Boy there was also plans to further that development which resulted in a 3D chip in the GameCube, although in the end it was never used.
Oh, I would like to see Mario (Smash?) and 3D Wario Land!
@TheRealThanos "to cast pearls before swine"
In my opinion as collector it’s the same with other rare Nintendo games like 64DD or Japanese „Nintendo Power”-Games.
I used to love playing wario land, why couldn't Nintendo make more wario games like that one not wario ware or some other mini game compilation spin off. But all in all the virtual boy really was and is a unique gaming experience.
About 6 years ago I worked in an independent games store (remember those?) I remember someone bringing in one these to sell. Pretty much all of the employees tried the little guy over the next few days out of curiosity and I remember that the number one complaint wasn't so much headaches but rather an odd sense of disorientation for a minute or so after people were done playing the system.
I heard that at the time it was released, Gunpei Yokoi begged superiors not to release the Virtual Boy yet because they didn't have the technology for a better display with more than one color and they hadn't worked out all the kinks. But he was overridden and the system went into the wild. Essentially, the Virtual Boy was a premature birth and didn't make it too long. I think the system was WAY underrated for the time in which it was released and if it was given a year or two more could have matured into a great platform.
notice the double dpad... the handles, the ps dualshocks grandfather, yes.
I never sat down to use mine. I laid down on the floor and set it on my face and it hardly moved. It was fun for what it was and never caused me any headaches. I did fall asleep from time to time however!
When I was a kid someone bought one for me. Yeah, it was a pain to use, it took about six hundred batteries, and it made my eyes sweaty when I played it for any amount of time, but Mario Tennis was a heck of a lot of fun.
I think I've still got it in a box somewhere...
@ikki5 I remember trying out the system in a Hills Department Store when it came out. I wanted it so badly, but it was too expensive. Little did I know that it would be discontinued within the year.
I recently had my first encounter with a Virtual Boy at a little used games store. When the man behind the counter asked if I wanted to play it, that became one of the happiest days of my life.
Also, I got a massive headache afterward, and it made my friend nauseous... BUT IT WAS WORTH IT.
"it's a console every self-respecting Nintendo fan needs to witness in the flesh at least once in their lifetimes."
I played this thing back in the day when it toured Canada's Blockbuster video stores. Once was definitely enough.
And for all the commentors above me with fond memories...I don't believe you. I'm gonna need photo proof that you even own one
I purchased a second hand Virtual Boy recently, and I liked it. I didn't get any headaches or anything of the sort. And VB Wario Land is great! Nintendo should put that lost gem on the 3DS virtual console service ASAP.
that red display gave me nightmares! I would not mind taking the gameplay but adapt the graphics. There is only two games I thought would deserve to be remembered. Mario battle and the wario game.
I bought my VB from Blockbuster video for $30. I had fun with it over the years, and never got a headache ... the whole headache thing has been very exaggerated, especially in recent years. A shame that working VB's are so hard to find now ... because of the glue giving out it's only a matter of time until even the best need repair. I'd love to see some of the better VB games come to the 3DS!
"it's a console every self-respecting Nintendo fan needs to witness in the flesh at least once in their lifetimes." You really must get out of the habit of adding these details, Damien. I almost bought a Virtual Boy!
The Virtual Boy is one rare fine piece of tech that people seem to dislike. It's pretty much the last invention of the legendary Gunpei Yokoi, the creator of Metroid and the Game Boy.
It would be nice to have Virtual Boy games on 3DS. I have never played one, although I would like to have the experience at least once.
I love Virtual Boy (in lapses of 15 min). I have 9 or 10 games.
Seriously, why haven't they brought Virtual Boy games to the 3DS VC...they could even let you set the color so it's not only red and black, but maybe any color you pick
Yeah, I've been waiting on any sort of semblance of an announcement that the 3DS would get VB games, but nothing yet. Well, it's not much, but I can at least remember checking out the demo of the VB in Sears many moons ago. I may never see that system again...
I still have mine but haven't touched it in over a decade.
VB was definitely misunderstood.... i get told all the time how terrible it was, by people who never played it. These games belong on the 3DS VC, its an absolute no brainer.
Hmm... I played it as a kid with no headaches.
@Sylpharion86 I had one that I sold about a year after I bought it from Blockbuster for $60 used. Wario Land was fun, Red Alert great, and Mario Tennis. Mario Bros was fun. I really wish I held onto it now. I even had the AC adapter and carry case that was briefcase style.
The VB gave me blurred vision for a few seconds, like starring straight into the sun
i knew 3 different people that owned one of these. Critical failure or not, clearly my peer group got the message.
so almost everyone posting here had no headaches from the VB. i've got news for you: that sucker ripped the eyes out of some of us. for a younger child with any eye issues it could have proven disastrous.
fond memories or not, it was a major fail.
I love my Virtual Boy. I was fortunate enough to get one when people wanted to dump them in the mid 1990s. Still works well too.
@Nintendojuenger: Are you kidding me? Why not? Galactic Pinball is STILL my favorite pinball game of all time!
Please Nintendo, I'm begging you to bring VB to the 3DS VC!
I almost bought one of these off Ebay once for $50, but I decided to save it for a 3DS XL instead.
The Virtual Boy is amazing. Those who say it's an abomination are usually the hypocrites that haven't tried out the Virtual Boy themselves, and they are just tagging along with what the press has to say about it.
The Virtual Boy has a decent library of games, even if it's small, since the only game that I really didn't like was Water World. Almost all 14 of the games that have been released for it are actually pretty great; Galactic Pinball, Jack Bros., Nester's Funky Bowling, Mario Clash, Mario's Tennis, Panic Bomber, 3D Tetris, Tetris-V, Red Alarm, Vertical Force, Teleroboxer, and of course Virtual Boy Wario Land are all great games, and they get smacked down just because the hardware that you play these games on is crap.
As for the hardware itself... I actually like to think of it as a unique specimen. The red and black is very straining and annoying, but the 3D effect is better here than it was on the 3DS. I don't really notice the 3D on my 3DS/3DS XL as much as I used to, but everytime that I crank out the Virtual Boy, the 3D always manages to impress me. The stand that the console comes with isn't as bad as everyone thinks it is, either; all I have to do to play comfortably is just lie down on my bed or any other flat surface.
All in all, the Virtual Boy is a very neat and misunderstood console, and it's probably my favorite handheld (if you want to call it that) right behind the 3DS/3DS XL. As a proud owner of all 14 U.S. released games in addition to the Japan-only V-Tetris game, the Virtual Boy is definitely an artifact that deserves to have a look, as there are some great games and 3D effects to be had here. Don't make your opinion on it just because it has a bad rep; I was one of them, thinking that the Virtual Boy is rubbish, but then I got one for $50 out of curiousity and I fell in love with it!
(However, if the Virtual Boy ever comes to the 3DS Virtual Console, then there should be an option to make the game either Red and Black or Black and White.)
I remember playing on a VB demo stand at a Best Buy in 1995... and walking away with a sore neck, but glad I satisfied a curiosity by trying it.
I'm torn about any 3DS ports. While it would be neat to put a few of the better titles out there, staring at that horrible red/black color scheme for more than a few minutes would be unpleasant at best.
Would be cool if they released some of the games on the 3DS VC. I always wanted to play Wario land of this console. (and perhaps mario clash too)
It gives you headaches almost as fast as watching MLP does.
I have a Virtual Boy and enjoyed it before I got a 3DS two years ago. I still like the Virtual Boy and would never sell it unless I needed the money for something really important. It would be cool if Nintendo put some VB games on the 3DS virtual console. I have never gotten a headache from using a Virtual Boy and people tend to over state headache problems.
My mom picked one up for with me up for me at a garage sale when i was a kid
came with mario tennis and warioworld. i loved the VB.
still got it in the garage.
I wish they release the games on the 3DS. I'd probably enjoy Mario Tennis
boy do i remember those 1995 headaches i got from this lol
Virtual Boy on the 3DS Virtual Console? No, not with how Nintendo handles the Virtual Console.
However 3DS eShop remakes at about $5-$7 each and in full color? Yes that would be better. Maybe even finish some games that never officially came out?
@Nintendojuenger The idea of the Virtual Console excites me because it has the potential to become almost like a museum of gaming. We, and specifically Nintendo, have a responsibility to properly preserve there games. Why would anyone, especially a collector, want to keep them off the Virtual Console?
VB + VC = yes, gimme
Still play mine all the time! Red Alarm is tha shizzzz-!!
Can't wait for the "NEW" releases! Woop woop!
I only have a few more games to find before I complete my VB collection. It actually has a few good games.
I was at a video game exhibit at the local Science Center and I finally got to try one (along with about a hundred other neat games). The game loaded in was Mario Tennis, and I actually played a few matches before getting a slight headache. It's neat, to be sure, but nothing more than a historical curiosity for me.
They could try releasing Virtual Boy games for the 3DS Virtual Console - and making them in 3D. I would try that Wario game, for sure.
Well, this is not a good console for people who get motion sickness which is said to be a precursor to a seizure. Plus, whomever said this thing is/was portable was smoking something.
Even though it was an odd console, my biggest sell/trade-in regret happened when I got rid of my Virtual Boy. I even had the only great game for it, Wario World VB. It really was a great game, and I can only hope some day we see it resurface in some form.
It's a shame, I had one of these back in 95. I ended up letting it go at a yard sale. I kick myself for letting my older consoles go but back then the money I got for them was more important. I keep everything now lol.
You will open a Virtual Boy shop on 3DS, Nintendo, and finally make a profit on those games.
I remember enjoying Galactic Pinball, Jack Bros., Nester's Funky Bowling, Mario Clash, Mario's Tennis, Panic Bomber , Red Alarm, Vertical Force, Teleroboxer, and Wario Land. Great games on a system with way too many issues, and I'd love to see them released on 3DS.
I even enjoyed Water World for a while, but it was more of a tech demo than a game. There was also a golf game that was fun.
Unless you've played every console, you couldn't say that.
I always wanted one. If I find a good deal on one, I may finally buy one ... sigh ... and figure out how to use the controller... The first to have two d-pads... (I originally thought they were for right/left-handed preference).
Virtual Boy Virtual Console games would be a great idea, as very few people got to play these games. They could be released as a packaged series, like the Game and Watch games.
I've seen much worse. Compare the Virtual Boy to the Phillips Cd-i and the VB will look like a new pair of Beats while the Cd-i will look like... well, for lack of a better word (or item)... fecal matter!
It's really surprising to me just how many people own one of these. I thought that they were really rare. Though I suppose this is a site where many major Nintendo fans would be found. Wish I could play one.
One of these days, i'll buy a virtual boy, and when I do, i'll somehow play it in public, since after all, it is a portable system.
And i'll tape it to my head, just like AVGN did (but really, I would find some strap or something and put it on or something).
@Royalblues You, sir, are a fool. Jaguar had two or three games worth playing. CDi and 3DO didn't even have that. There are far worse systems that the Virtual Boy.
@retro_player_22 The Wonderswan was really his last piece of hardware that he created.
@BlackSpy Who says it would have to still be red on the 3DS? That was the color of the LEDs, not the programming.
My favorite game for the VB has always been Tennis. I still break it out every now and again. Wario was a great one too.
@Nintendojuenger: Who cares? So that means keep it away from other people because you're worried that the value of your "collection" might go down? Sounds pretty greedy on your part.
@SheldonRandoms: They original planned to release a strap so you could wear it, but I dont think it was every released.
i have an emulator for it, and I can make it display the two screens side by side, and then use my stereogram viewing technique on it to mush them together and play it in it's original 3d
and if I want, it's original red color, or there's a black and white option
I picked one up from Block Buster Video here in the U.S. They had several units that could be rented out but no one really cared. I got it pretty cheap too. I think it was about $50 for everything and came with 5 games. All in a very nice and rugged plastic case. I break it out every now and again. The 3D effect is very good actually. Red Alarm is the star. Golf is also pretty cool. More for the 3D scenery.
I have seen three in person, never played one. One of them at the Nintendo World Store (not for sale), and the other two at Video Games New York (I think both were for sale). Both in NYC. It was a lot bigger thanI imagined.
@KnightRider666 @MeWario I am a friend of retail games. VC is not a museum – it’s more like a soulless temple of commerce. It’s not to keep them away, it’s a decision: should I buy a new Luigi 30th 3DSXL or a Virtualboy.
@ikki5 sad but awesome true story, back in late 98 i lived in a shelter home for a while, my birthday passed while i was their (turned 13) and we had a locked toy room which was opened only to give gifts to the children who lived there. I looked all around the overly cutesy plush doll filled room with girly knickknacks everywhere, after a few minutes i give up and decided to leave with no present, but I try one more look high up on the shelves in a dusty corner out of my reach and I see a red/back box, i ask the storage man to bring it down and immediately recongnize what is was as I had seen it at K-mart on display. It was a completely untouched Virtual Boy console and the price tag on it was 99$, must have been donated while on sale due to non sales, something i didnt know or care about at the time. I was shocked, pumped and excited all at the same time, I had to ask the man again if everything in the room was free and he said yes. So i took the box, went to my tiny room and set the system up, it came with 6 AA batteries and a copy of mario tennis, a really awesome game btw. I remember playing it til i could show my mother, first thing she said was about how the colors were bad and it made her eyes sore, she also couldnt believe i got it for free from the shelter home staff, this also was only a few months after my big bro was shot and killed so if was really good for me at the time, I never once had a headache and couldnt wait to get more games in the future, only to find out it was discontinued. I still have it today and every so often pull it out and show the other game i brought for it, teleroboxer, a really epic version of mike tysons punch out using robots to box that puts you in mind of the movie Real Steel, I still think they owe nintendo royalties for that. One of my fondest memories ever.
Does anyone know if the VB is region free?
@Nintendojuenger So you think other people are not worth it or will not value the games enough if they would be published on 3DS instead of playing them on the real system?
That's a bit presumptuous, methinks... I can understand where you're coming from as a collector, but not everyone has the money to buy the real system or has access to the places to buy one. (besides internet, but that is not the place of choice if you want to know for sure what you're buying and what condition it is in, UNLESS you can arrange to pick the item up yourself)
And if Nintendo themselves decide to bring this to Virtual Console, who are we to decide that it should not happen? That would mean that no classic game should ever be published again, INCLUDING all the NES and SNES games. "Go buy yourself one of these systems if you want to play them" should be the catch phrase then...
Oh, and "VC is not a museum"? Nobody said it was, but it is a nice way to play some classic games on newer systems, and yes of course it also has a commercial reason, but the whole gaming industry is commercial so no surprise there.
As for me personally, I think publishing these games on 3DS will give people new appreciation of what Nintendo has already done in past years, ESPECIALLY those that are too young to actually have experienced the time when these consoles were new on the market.
@KongFu Whether it technically is or not, I'm not sure, but honestly it doesn't matter. It was only released in Japan and North America, and any unit can play games from either region.
@TheRealThanos There are collectors and there are speculators. Sometimes, speculators manage to convince themselves that they are collectors, but @nintendojuenger is most certainly not one. He is absolutely a speculator. The difference? Collectors have their systems for the love of the games. If he can't appreciate the fact that new generations are introduced to gaming through emulators or virtual console releases and learn to appreciate the history of gaming (just look at the Super Metroid introduction on Wii U for an example) then he is more concerned about the "value" of his system rather than the love of the game.
Thx. That answers my question. I was just wondering, because the 3DS is region locked allthough Nintendo handhelds were usually region free...
@WesGrogan Speculator? I’dont have eBay…Is it real love to play games illegal (emulator)?
If I look at the actual Feature “The Biggest Wii U Games of 2013 - Summer Edition” a lot of people will picking up a lot of new games. If you want to be a “real” retro gamer in my opinion, safe this money and buy for example a SNES with a handful of epic [e.g. NBA Jam] or fantastic trashy [e.g. Turbo Toons] games.
@WesGrogan You make some interesting points, although I myself would be careful to label anyone that I don't know, so I would go with "doesn't seem to be a collector" instead of stating it as a fact. After all, that's just an opinion. You have a right to it, but that doesn't mean that it's right on the money...
Anybody remember Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal? You could get a Virtual Boy for your bedroom through Mystery Gift.
I'd be especially weary of playing Virtual Boy games in 3D on my 3DS. Is there a possibility of alternate colour options like the Game Boy? Switching from red to monochrome, I mean?
If anyone's interested, there's a neat little article concerning this fabulous device in issue #4 of Kill Screen: http://shop.killscreendaily.com/products/issue-4-public-play
I played with one for around 20 minutes, as it was in a store so the thing was not mine. Thankfully it was the Warioland game, so I ended up playing one of the best games for the system. Would not hurt to have these games on my 3DS.
Has anyone noticed that 9 Volt has one in his room during the minigame "GAMER" in Game and Wario? I thought it was a great touch.
@GamerZack7 The only reason it was red was because that was the color of the LED lights. It wasn't programmed for a specific color as much as "On/Off" instructions, so it should be able to be pretty much any color and background color.
@WesGrogan: So the colour of the VC versions could potentially be changed if the player desires?
@GamerZack7 In theory, there's no reason in the world that they shouldn't be able to. Whether Nintendo does it themselves or they allow the player to choose the combination best for them, it should absolutely be possible, hypothetically.
No Warioland? WTF! That's the best game on the VB IMHO.
Just leave the Legendary Red and Black there.. for Gunpei Yokoi!
I WISH I still I had my Virtual Boy! I first got mine Christmas of '95. I loved that system. I've never experienced headaches or any other negative side effect from using it. Red Alarm was my favorite game, followed by Mario Tennis and TeleroBoxer
Propably never gonna see this system live. I played trough Wario Land VB on emulator as everyone says it´s the best game on the system (tried a little Mario Tennis and Mario Clash too but those we´re only decent). Wario Land VB is a good game but nothing really special.
About the colours, the Gameboy VC games are released in shades of black and white, whereas the original hardware had a green/yellow tint. There is an option on boot to play VC games in shades of green instead. This could easily be implemented in the hypothetical Virtual Boy emulator.
The Virtual Boy collection should be released on the Nintendo eShop for the Nintendo 3DS!
Actually.. in a strange sense I liked the Virtual Boy.. I played on it a lot.. at Blockbuster.. and Best Buy... and while I would not say it was the best system in the world.. it kind of brought back memories of really old computer games or something.. can't explain it.. but I know I liked it... I actually have this on my wish list as a system for my collection..
I want to get one so badly. One that works well and has all the original pieces. I passed up a good $50 Ebay deal once that included everything but the power cable. I kind of kick myself for not buying it.
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