Released July 21, 1995- Nintendo Virtual Boy
The Virtual Boy dropped into Japan on this day in 1995.
The Virtual Boy hit the market with a couple of games. Including such games as Teleroboxer, Mario Tennis, Panic Bomber, Red Alarm and Galactic Pinball.
The console was priced at ¥15,000. ($170 US). Quite a steep point of entry for such a niche console in the Japanese market. Marketed as a portable device especially. It featured an awful red on black LED display with a full sized controller.
Development of the Virtual Boy lasted an astonishing 4 years. The entire time, however, more and more resources were pulled to focus on the upcoming Nintendo 64 system. Due to high costs, the system became so scaled down, it was hardly usable. Thus, it was shipped to the market completely unfinished in 1995 to focus on the N64.
Nintendo at the time promised that the games would “Totally immerse the player”. However, all it really did was make players wish they weren’t playing on it as the display caused intense eye strain which leads to migraines or bad headaches amongst most players. Due to the number of poor quality games and lack of true portability, the console ultimately flopped, really hard. In the North American market, the system could be found shortly after launch for about $10 with everything included. In some cases, full kits with a great deal of the games released.
Official sales numbers say the console sold around 770,000 units, worldwide. An overwhelming failure for such an expensive development for Nintendo’s first foray into the 32-bit gaming world. Nowadays, on the collectors market, the Virtual Boy commands quite a high price. A base unit can be purchased without any games for around $115 US. However, even a Japanese import of the base unit with the box asks around $500. Games are about a dime a dozen, outside of some of the rarer ones like Mario Clash which commands a price of about $35 US and Jack Bros frequently spotted at around $350.
Is the Virtual Boy even worth picking up today? Perhaps, if you’re a crazy Nintendo enthusiast. Collectors may want to drop the cash. However, as someone who is simply curious about a VR system from 1995, I wouldn’t bother. Its games don’t play that great and they can range from really cheap to common crappy games, to crazy expensive for the later released titles. Did you have a Virtual Boy? Does anyone actually have fond memories playing the system? Let us know in the comments!