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The Nintendo Virtual Boy Game System: A Failed VR Pioneer

The Nintendo Virtual Boy game system was one of the first consoles designed to provide a VR-type experience. The Nintendo VR device included stereoscopic 3D graphics, much like the effect produced by a View-Master, in the form of a red monochrome display housed in a headset. The Virtual Boy made its debut in 1995, but despite being a pioneer in VR and 3D gaming, the system was not a commercial success and was discontinued just a year later. Nintendo’s VR failure was mostly attributed to the game console’s high price, low-quality effects, and monochrome display. Even repeated price drops couldn’t entice people to invest in the Nintendo Virtual Boy and it has been hailed as one of the worst-selling video game consoles. The Virtual Boy was also released at the height of the Nintendo Game Boy’s popularity, and it just couldn’t compete with its own handheld, portable device.

Nintendo had a visionary 3D gaming idea and predicted that we would enjoy VR games in the future. Unfortunately, the technology at the time just didn’t translate to a product that could sell. The 3D aspect didn’t add much to the gaming experience, so it was seen as nothing more than an expensive novelty.

Overall, it was not an enjoyable console for many gamers to use and many complained that it was uncomfortable. Gamers also reported headaches and nausea, which are not uncommon with VR headsets today. But at least you can wear a modern VR headset on your head comfortably: The Virtual Boy headset was not ergonomically designed and was universally uncomfortable. To top it off, some believed the monochrome display on the Virtual Boy could cause eye damage to children. Nintendo was frank in reporting that the Virtual Boy was a failure.

Nintendo Virtual Boy Games

Just 22 Nintendo Virtual Boy games were released before Nintendo discontinued the console, and some of these were exclusive to Japan or North America. Titles ranged from classics like TetrisGalactic Pinball, and Mario titles to tennis and bowling. There were even a few strategy games and shooters in the mix, like Red AlarmSD Gundam Dimension War, and Vertical Force.


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