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Video Game Uber Fun Fun List: Nintendo Virtual Boy

Author: Philippe
Posted: 05 Jan 2005

OK, kids, so far we've done the NES and the VCS. Two very big selling classics. Now, for a slight change of pace, we're going to look at one of the bigger colossal failures in video game history.

That's right, this week we're peeking into the tragic life of the Nintendo Virtual Boy.

1994. Green Day's "Basket Case" was currently enjoying a heavy rotation on MTV. I was cavorting around Belgium. Scientists were just starting to figure out that maybe killing off all of the weak bacteria with penicillin could lead to bad things, and a new term was being thrown around like a Jr. Prom date.

Virtual Reality. It graced everything from movies to breakfast cereals to really crappy games at the mall. Nintendo, it seemed, wanted a piece of the pie.

So, Gunpei Yokoi (who was the driving force for the Gameboy) was given the task to figure something out. Figure out something he did, and thus the Virtual Boy was eventually released on an unsuspecting public on August 14th the next year.

Everyone was very excited about the idea, but then it turned out that system sucked balls. Huge balls. Huge, hairy, and sweaty ones.

First of all, the device only displayed images in red. A terrible retina-burning red image. Then there were the LCD screens. Stare at the LCD screen for two hours, and everyone -- not just some people, but everyone -- got a migraine headache. Then there was the fact that the helmet weighed too much. As such, they had to put it on a stand with no adjustments possible. Comfy.

The system didn't sell for shit. Only 14 games were made for it. 11 of them by Nintendo and, in 1996, Virtual Boy closed down for good.

Now, as I've had very few chances to play the games on this system, and in fact only managed to play 3 of them in demo form...at the mall...I'll be forgoing the ranking system and simply list 9 games more or less in a random order. I'll try never to do this again, but I still felt it was important for everyone to know about this classic and expensive failure.

9. Red Alarm. Storyline-wise? It's very reminiscent of Star Fox. The ship looks the same and you ended up fighting a giant face at the end. In fact, I think someone just liked Red Alarm enough that Star Fox could almost be called a sequel. I like that they called it Red Alarm, too, because everything was red, you see. It's also interesting to note that none of the games had a save feature to my knowledge. This meant that, in order to actually win, you needed to suffer through the headache.
8. Mario Clash. A modern remake of the original Mario Brothers. It was the same game, except in 3D. And, you know, only one-player. 1 step forward, 2 steps back.
7. Galactic Pinball. One of the very few games I actually remember playing. Also one of the few games that really took advantage of the 3 dimensions. It looked crisp and fun. And, really, how hard is it to screw up pinball?
6. Golf. You were a guy...and you hit the ball into this hole. This was just a standard golf game.

Mario Golf is way better than this game. Damn this game. Damn the Virtual Boy to hell.
5. Mario Tennis. I think that the Cube version is a bit better in the "everything" department. There was depth to the court, however the players were flat.
4. Panic Bomber. This game was actually fun. However, it was just a puzzle game that didn't put 3D effects into actual gameplay. So it was pointless to put the game on this system (I'm really trying not to be so negative on these games, but...well, bear with me).
3. 3D Tetris. Eeesh. It was a block-dropping game. You dropped stuff down a well, and tried to fill up the plane that way. It was neat, though the computer version that had been released a year earlier was a lot better-looking.
2. Virtual Boy Wario Land. A sequel to the popular Mario Land 3 for the Gameboy. This was your basic platformer but also had the ability to do the 3D thing from time to time. Admittedly, I think that it hurt the game more than it helped it, but who can say.
1. Telero Boxing. Robot boxing from beyond the stars! Vaguely reminiscent of Punch-Out, but mostly crap.


So yes. 9 games. 0 reasons to play. Thank you, Nintendo Corporation.

And, also, a HUGE thank you to Mark Kelly over at http://www.planetnintendo.com/nindb for the complete games list and screenshots.

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