Old School Cool: The Pitfalls of The Virtual Boy

The precursor to the 3DS was a questionable piece of hardware.

Old School Cool is our new original video series releasing every Tuesday afternoon on the Den of Geek Facebook page. Each week, we break out the SNES, SEGA, PS2 or another classic console as we take you on a nostalgia trip into the world of classic video games and accessories.

Old School Cool: Virtual Boy

The Virtual Boy is one of those instances of Nintendo being way ahead of the times. While not lauded for its innovation at the time – the Virtual Boy did have considerable flaws and was off the market in a year – this platform did predict later trends in gaming, namely virtual reality and 3D, which Nintendo spearheaded itself with the 3DS handheld. 

Today, it’s almost impossible to imagine a gaming industry without virtual reality, but back in the 1995, it was the new frontier. Boasting 22 games in its first (and only) year on the market, the Virtual Boy brought Mario Tennis, Wario Land, Tetris, and a promising boxing simulator called Teleroboxer to the 3D headset. Unfortunately, the hardware did not do these games justice. 

Many saw the 3D aspect of the platform as a gimmick that didn’t add anything to games that were essentially 2D. The price tag also didn’t help – it was $179.99 at launch in the U.S. The final nail on the coffin for the Virtual Boy came in the form of nausea, dizziness, and headaches. In fact, some experts feared that prolonged exposure to the Virtual Boy could cause long-term side effects. 

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Nintendo, which had only shipped out a little over a million units in 1995-96, quietly pulled the plug on the platform. While it was a sad death for the Virtual Boy, its legacy is unquestionable. Today, we enjoy the fruit of its failures. 

Learn more about the Virtual Boy in the video below: