Nintendo console-thing which is a rather infamous case of mismanagement, comparable to Sega's 32X. It was the brainchild of Gunpei Yokoi (more famous as the software designer of the first three Metroid games and main designer of the Game Boy), intended to be a true 3D simulation. While it sort of lives up to that claim, it had a number of problems:
Though obviously designed to be a handheld system, it couldn't really be held in the hand: it needed support from a flat surface to use correctly.
However, being awkward to use at least detracted from yet another problem — extended use (say, over 15 minutes at a time) could cause considerable eyestrain. Games came with a mandatory pause feature.
If you wear glasses, it's no surprise to learn that you'll have serious trouble playing while wearing them.
The system's games library missed the whole point of the system (that is, to employ first-person view and be, well, a simulation). This said, the library was a surprisingly strong set for a platform so glaringly user-unfriendly and which was pretty much destined to be discontinued quickly.
The graphics were monochrome, and not even close to black and white: just black and bloody, demonic red.
Part of the fun of video games lies in watching your friends play and being watched yourself - oh, and multiplayer games. The Virtual Boy not only had no multiplayer note It was planned to have a link cable and it is built with a port for one, but it was never released, but due to the design, it's impossible to watch people play it (and additionally, to effectively demo games to prospective buyers).
16MB megabyte ROM cartridges with an additional 16MB of RAM if needed. Games only used up to 2MB of ROM and 8KB of battery backed RAM in practice
Dual monochrome red-and-black LED displays.
1x224 resolution per screen. The LEDs actually strobe through 384 columns really fast, but it's also stressful for the eyes, hence headaches.
Took 6AA batteries or a 10V DC power adapter.
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Note that while only 22 games were released, the February 2003 issue of Tips & Tricks counted the eleven released in both regions as "separate" for the purpose of assessing rarity. The same article also notes that thousands of copies of several Japan-only games (including V-Tetris) were imported by Electronics Boutique (now EB Games) in 1996 and sold for $10.
3D Tetris (US only), basically an Obvious Beta of Tetrisphere. A Japanese version called Polygo Block was planned but not released, although a playable build was present at Space World '95.
Galactic Pinball, a collection of four space-themed pinball boards that predates Metroid Prime Pinball as Samus' first appearance in the genre.
Golf (T&E Virtual Golf in Japan), a golf game featuring 47 virtual opponents.
Interceptor, a Japan-only shooter by Coconuts Japan Entertainment Co., Ltd.
J-League 3D Stadium, a soccer game by J-Wing which was scheduled for release on March 20, 1996.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers...yeah, we know. Bandai was in charge of making this game, which was scheduled for release in Winter 1996.
Night Landing, a game by Pow. Other than that...nobody knows what it is.
Faceball (NikoChan Battle in Japan), an entry in the series that would've supported the unreleased Virtual Boy GameLink cable. It's also one of only two unreleased games for the console to have been dumped, and the build appears to be about 80% finished.
Out of the Deathmount, a shooter (although the existing screenshot makes it seem like a Shadowgate-esque point-and-click game) by J-Wing that was scheduled for release on March 1, 1996.
Proteus Zone, a game by Coconuts Japan Entertainment Co., Ltd. that was scheduled for release in March 1996.
Shin Nihon Pro Wrestling Gekitou Densetsu, rumored to have been released in Japan in extremely limited quantities during December 1995.
Signal Tatto, a Japan-only game by J-Wing. Nobody knows what it is.
Sora Tobu Henry, a Japan-only game (although despite three pictures existing, nobody knows what it is) scheduled for release on December 15, 1995.
Star Seed, a game by Coconuts Japan Entertainment Co., Ltd. Nobody knows what it is.
Strange Animal School, a Japan-only game which might have been something like Tamagotchi.
Sunday's Point, a game by Coconuts Japan Entertainment Co., Ltd. that was mentioned as an upcoming game at E3 '95. Nobody knows what it is.
VB Mario Land, a fusion of traditional side-scrolling Mario platforming with the "jump into the background" element of Virtual Boy Wario Land and top-down Zelda-style areas. Based on pictures shown in Nintendo Power and other publications, plus a recording of the one-level demo shown at the Winter CES '95, it appears that Wario was meant to be the villain. While the game was canned and Mario Clash rose from its ashes, the system's lack of a true Mario title definitely hurt its chances more.
Virtual Block, a 3D Breakout/Arkanoid/Alleyway game with two paddles, each connected to one of the D-Pads. A playable build was present at Space World '95.
Virtual Bomberman, an entry in the long-running series with 3D explosions. Hudson's booth at Space World '95 showed off the game, which was scheduled for release in December 1995 but pushed to February 29, 1996.
Virtual Double Yakuman, the third entry in the Mahjong-based game series (the first two were released for the Game Boy and Super Famicom, respectively).
Virtual Gunman, an FPS that was shown at Space World '95.
Virtual Jockey, a horse-racing simulator (maybe) and one of the few unreleased games to have official artwork released.
Virtual League Baseball 2 (Virtual Pro Yakyuu '96 in Japan), a sequel to Virtual League Baseball/Virtual Pro Yakyuu '95.
Wangan Sensen Red City, a Japan-only Asmik game that, based on the two available pictures, might have been a tactical war simulator.
Worms, an entry in the series that was canned a few weeks into pre-production when the developers looked into the console and decided it was destined for failure.
Around March 1996, three games prominently took the spotlight in what was to be a relaunch of the console in both America and Japan. These looked to be the Killer Apps that stood a good chance of at least keeping the system around for a few more months (if not saving it outright), possibly even giving some of the above games a possibility of seeing release:
Bound High!, an extremely well-done 3-D game that took full advantage of its platform. Scheduled for release on February 23, 1996 in Japan and August 26 in America, it's one of only two unreleased games for the console to have been dumped...and the build appears to be finished.
Dragon Hopper (Jump Dragon in Japan), a Legend of Zelda-ish action/adventure game that appeared at Space World '95 and E3 '96 along with being previewed by Nintendo Power. Scheduled for release on August 26, 1996.
Zero Racers (called G-Zero early on), an F-Zero sequel that was previewed by Nintendo Power. Scheduled for release in Fall 1996.
With no sign that the games would ever be released and the system was dead, Nintendo Power dropped the "Forecast" after Issue 87 (August 1996) and Virtual Boy coverage altogether after Issue 89 (October 1996).
As with many systems, several tech demos were created to show off the Virtual Boy's abilities.
Dolphins Demo: Dolphins and water effects (a theme Nintendo would use for other systems' tech demos), including a 3D beach scene where the water appears to come in from the horizon. Shown at the Winter CES '95 and E3 '95.
F1 Demo: A 3D first-person driving demo that runs about 30 seconds. Shown at the Winter CES '95 and E3 '95.
Mario Demo: The startup screen of the Virtual Boy prototype shown at Shoshinkai '94. The sequence shows a rendered Mario under a simple Virtual Boy logo, the letters of which fly one at a time toward the viewer.
Sample: Some very simple code that came with the VUE Debugger software, where the user moves a ball around a 3D playfield.
Sample Soft for VUE Programming: A sample program for Virtual Boy programmers, which also came with each VUE Debugger. The demo consists of five programs, selected with the L and R buttons.
Starfox Demo: A Star Fox-like ship made of filled polygons (as opposed to the empty ones of Red Alarm), spinning and zooming in 3D. Shown at the Winter CES '95 and E3 '95.