Nintendo Virtual Boy

I’ve had a few cracks at writing this entry, at trying to explain how owning the Virtual Boy has made me feel, and my opinion of the hardware itself.  I’m finding it difficult to quantify the whole experience.  You see, the Sega Master System is similar in many ways to the Atari 2600, which is in turn similar to the Super Nintendo.  They’re all instantly recognisable as gaming consoles, with their base units and controllers.

The Virtual Boy has more in common with the Vectrex, an alien contraption that defies common explanation (but is strangely satisfying because of this fact).  At first glance most people would have no idea what the Virtual Boy was, with a small percentage of the population likely given over to irrational terror at the very sight of it, stumbling their way out of the room choking on fear fueled tears and gibbering Lovecraftian lines.

For those of us with the fortitude to stick around and learn more, the Virtual Boy reveals itself to be an absolute wonder of the retro gaming world.

Resembling a circa 80s virtual reality headset with a controller snaking out the base of the unit, the Nintendo Virtual Boy renders all its games in a shade of red and uses optical effects to produce a sense of 3D in the games.  While I only have one Virtual Boy title  – Mario Tennis – for the time being, it was enough to get a sense of what the console is capable of.

And  I can honestly say, from a gamers perspective, the Virtual Boy has been a hell of a lot of fun so far.  Seriously, the tennis game is solid, there’s some nice use of 3D as the ball bounces ‘through’ the screen and text seems to approach from ‘outside’ the boundaries of display.  I’m not one for tennis games on any platform, but Mario Tennis is fun, addictive and really captures you as you try to outwit the AI opponent.  I didn’t suffer any of the rumored headaches from wearing the Virtual Boy, but I have developed an unhealthy desire to see what other games are like for the console.  I also didn’t put much stock in the complaints that it’s awkward to use.  Yes, you’ll have to find the right surface to sit the tripod on or – as I did – lie down with the Virtual Boy on top of you, but if you’re dedicated enough to purchase a Virtual Boy then you’re easily dedicated enough to find a way to play it.

Again like the Vectrex, the Virtual Boy is great to own because it is unique. It is something people will ask about when they see it, and delight in when they use it.   It’s a talking point and has fantastic shelf appeal.  I couldn’t be happier with mine and have already begun the search for more titles to try out even though I’m fairly sure I’d be content if all I had was Mario Tennis.

The Virtual Boy is as much a gamers piece as a collectors, and well worth shelling out  the cash for. (And yes, being that they’re fairly unique and had a low production run you won’t be finding them cheap unfortunately)

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6 Responses to Nintendo Virtual Boy

  1. Sean says:

    I am very tempted to buy a Virtual Boy after reading this post. One of my game shops in town has one boxed for 8,000 yen (about 100 dollars). Very tempting. Coincidentally they also have a Vectrex – another console you have given me an interest in – but that is going for about 30,000 yen with the games starting from 5,000 so it is way out of my price range. I’m a huge fan of old oddities like both of them though.

    Nice post!

  2. Yeah, that $100 price tag is just mean 🙂 For that I’d jump on board, but due to cost/space, I think I’m happy to sit back and enjoy fellow enthusiasts’ enjoyment of this classic machine.

    But I wasn’t always that open-minded. I was an irrational Sega fanboy back in the mid-90s, so the failure of the Virtual Boy gave me something to fire back at the Nintendo fanboys when they pointed out the failure of the 32X (and to a lesser extent, the Mega CD).

    Thankfully I started changing my tune at the turn of the generations – in 1996 my younger brother and I pooled our funds and grabbed a SNES with all sorts of goodies. This was a very big step for me 😉

  3. Thanks for posting this entry about the Virtual Boy. I’ve also heard about those headaches, but it’s great to hear that it’s working fine for you. 🙂 I’d love to try such a console myself.

    A $100 for a Virtual Boy? That’s not bad at all! I wouldn’t hesitate purchasing it, as it is very rare like Amiga5eva wrote.

    Have fun gaming! 🙂

  4. Sean says:

    If you thought 100$ for a boxed one was a good deal, check out the latest post on my blog to see how much I ended up buying one for!

    http://famicomblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/about-virtual-boy.html

  5. bochalla says:

    Found out about this post via Sean @ Famicomblog. Hoo boy, wait ’til you hear his story! All I’ll say is that he got a Virtual Boy — and that he didn’t spend $100 to get it 🙂

    Anyway, great post. I’m completely jealous, by the way. I remember being curious about the VB when it was released, but I had limited funds at the time (being a teen will do that to you) and I didn’t buy it.

    I’d love to acquire one sometime in the next few years, though — mainly so I can finally see what this system’s 3D effect is like and so I can play the system’s Mario Bros., Mario Tennis and Wario Land games.

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