The Nintendo Virtual Boy |OT| Batteries Not Included


Really interesting story piecing together the conception of the Virtual Boy. It’s interesting that Gunpei Yokoi envisioned a future where Nintendo would have devices covering three sectors: consoles, mobiles, and wearables.

It also seems like Nintendo R&D1, despite being Nintendo’s oldest development team, were hampered by what EAD were doing at the time. This was no bad thing in the long run - Nintendo had a team of experts, working with Intelligent Systems, that produced high quality 2D games right up until 2004. A great fit for handheld development as it were. And I think that explains why future games in the Wario Land and Metroid haven’t been developed in-house - R&D1 was disbanded into other teams to focus on other types of games, like the excellent Rhythm Tengoku and WarioWare Twisted and DIY.

But it would have been interesting to see them make games for the other systems as well, I think. How were their Virtual Boy games?


That’s a great article that covers a lot of background info I had no idea was going on during the late 80s/early 90s. Also just noticed it was written by Retronauts very own Benj Edwards. :slight_smile:


Hmm, some good history/info there, I didn’t even know about the other company involved.

“regurgitating a 12 year-old arcade classic, Mario Bros. , into an awkward remake whose use of stereoscopic perspective proved entirely incidental to the gameplay ( Mario Clash ).”

I pretty much disagree with all of this opinion. It’s a more modern development of the idea, not an ‘awkward remake’ and makes some of the best use of 3D on the system. Stereoscopic 3D isn’t needed for any game really, but adds to Mario Clash more than most.

“According to some reports, the Virtual Boy sold roughly 770,000 units worldwide during its brief life span–and only 140,000 units in its native Japan”

It’s actually official Nintendo shipment data.


I probably posted this on the DS thread but I’ve been meaning to try the T&E Soft DS golf game! Is it worth getting the Virtual-Boy one? I’m also considering picking up Red Alarm, looks really interesting.

Oh no! That explains a lot - there was a Virtual-Boy at an expo I went to and I couldn’t get it to show a proper 3D effect 99% of the time messing with the lens focus dial. For the 1% where it did show one it looked phenomenal. I’ve been thinking about picking up a Virtual-Boy, maybe next time I’m in Japan since it was never released in Europe anyway. Do you have any tips to find ones which aren’t damaged? And if one were to pick one up abroad, I’m guessing it would get damaged on the flight back anyway?


Speaking of T&E Soft games, I thought these listings were interesting…

Any 19 others fancy doing a split? :smiley:


They’re both very good.

Looks like you can buy Red Alert individually. £20 plus shipping. But not Golf.

I bought a new old stock Winter Gold SNES from Spain on eBay recently. The guy had full boxes of all sorts of odd games.


Picked up some Virtual Boy games - finally! I really want to get Mario Clash as well at some point. The T&E Soft titles are sure to be @matt approved!

As for hardware - I’m guessing I should pick up a restored unit due to the glue holding the lenses loosening over time?


Gotta love those prices lol.

I have a unit now that has issues if not played for a few months, but then fixes itself after its been on for a few minutes.

It’s not lenses, it’s ribbon cables. I think, like original Game Boy, the key might be that they fail from disuse. OG Game Boys with screen lines can be fixed with a slight re-flow, but they only go bad in the first place if they’ve been off for 10 years. A little bit of being warm from playing every now and then keeps connections flowed.


They nearly all have issues. Best advice would be to learn how to repair them yourself because you’re going to need to someday. Also, don’t adjust the focus knob because that loosens the ribbon cables.

I went through 3 units myself :confused:


I know of a guy whose been working on designing a connector to replace that whole glue connection thing. I don’t think he’s made anything public or even close to final thing though. The mom and pop shop near me will fix them for 50 bucks, and I think he solders the ribbon cable on. I don’t know how that effects say wanting to put in the furrtek video out mod.

I wish the flash cart for the VB was more readily available, only because I would love to play the SF port for it. Which is also a cart that is hardly ever available.


Just a heads up in case you haven’t already seen it - Jeremy Parish started a Virtual Boy Works series last week and it’s quality stuff (like all his other work)


Thanks for all the responses, folks! I need to look into this ribbon cable issue then. Shame it isn’t so straightforward but I think it’ll be worth it. I really like Nintendo R&D1 and the VB feels like a missing chapter of theirs. Emulation hasn’t cut it for me either given the dual D-Pad design of the controller and lack of contrast/3D.


I’m a bit gutted that I passed on a box of loose VB games the last time I was in Kanto (2017). The same store today no longer has any VB stuff save for a single boxed copy o

f Wario Land.


Enjoy your Virtual Boy journey. It’s criminally overlooked (although for good reasons).

It’s got some really high quality games given its short run.


Added a new shelf to the gameroom, so now my tiny VB collection has a home:)


I can’t believe my luck today. I’ve been visiting Book Off stores while travelling around prefectures in Kanto whenever I’m near them.

In a Book Off Super Bazaar I found…a boxed virtual boy for 10,800 yen. It was missing the manuals, took it back, plugged it in and…it works!

Is Mario Clash worth picking up? I can’t really afford Wario Land but Mario Clash is about 4500 yen boxed.

Also: V-Tetris.

I’m not going to touch that focus dial - thanks for the heads-up. I’m worried about transporting it back though…


Amazing!!! Great find


Tried a few games:

-Mario’s Tennis is difficult which I like - big emphasis on court positioning. Seems like you have to play the long game with this - I couldn’t even win the first match on normal.

-Jack Bros is finally playable with the VB controller and it’s better than I remember it
emulated. Played through the first world with no trouble thanks to the second D-Pad.

-Galactic Pinball actually blew me away. The table designs seem really solid and the use of 3D is superb - you really do get an almost vertical table on a horizontal display without it appearing like a compromise. Played a long session on the Colony table and enjoyed it.

-Red Alarm looks amazing in 3D. Need to spend some proper time with it

-Vertical Force is intriguing. The layering is impressive but like Red Alarm I’ll need to sit down with it for longer.

What has surprised me is the audio quality - it’s really crisp and I wasn’t expecting voice samples in some of the games. Also, the controller is probably one of the most comfortable I’ve tried. I also haven’t encountered any dizziness or headaches - perhaps the 3DS has prepared me for this!

Cheers! I’m still amazed I found it, especially on a trip to Saitama for non game shopping things. Really chuffed about it.


That is a hell of a deal! Congrats on finding it!

I only have a few VB games but Wario Land, Vertical Force, V-Tetris, and Mario Tennis are all fun. WL is probably the best game I’ve played on the system.


The NVC (CPU) and VSU (sound chip) are actually both pretty beefy. The VPU (video chip) also, if you can see past (pun intended) the red-only output.

The sound chip is very similar to Konami SCC (MSX/Arcade) or HuC6280 (PC Engine) - see the music thread.