Virtual Boy, you’re often understood but it’s not your fault. Humans just haven’t developed the ability to truly process red and black just yet. Come back in 15 more years.
On August 14th, 1995, Nintendo released the Virtual Boy in North America, coming just one month after its Japanese launch. Suffice to say, neither in the US, Japan, nor anywhere in the world really did this console/handheld hybrid take off.
For starters it came out during a transition period for Nintendo home consoles. You had Super Nintendo coming off several years of dominance in the 16-Bit wars as your predecessor and the already known, and highly anticipated Nintendo 64 which was set to come out just one year later. Add to that, Sega’s own Sega Saturn and Sony‘s PlayStation being released in 1995, and people just weren’t into the Virtual Boy.
You might think that despite coming out in an awkward time, if the system was really spectacular, it would sell no matter what, right? Unfortunately, though it was an innovative approach to 3D gaming, this platform ended up selling short of 1 million units world wide and had less than 2 dozen games developed for it.
You have to give Nintendo credit for their attempt, however. They used a 32-Bit Processor that was capable of producing 3D effects (even though the monochromatic graphics limited the appeal of these visuals…after all, every game was in Red and Black).
Fun titles did exist such as Mario Tennis and Wario, but unfortunately, this Gunpei Yokoi designed console didn’t do as well as his past projects, including Game & Watch, Game Boy, and Metroid.
I had fun playing it and the red and black only visuals didn’t give me a headache, nor was the focused 3D too straining on my eyes, but something told me that it wasn’t going to be a machine that would last long like the NES and SNES before it. At E3 this year, Nintendo definitely set out to prove that they know what they’re doing nowadays with 3D and the 3DS is set to blow the world away when it releases later this year or early next.
If any of you have any unique Virtual Boy stories, please do share. Here’s to you, VB…you often forgotten sibling of the Nintendo hardware universe.