The Nintendo Virtual Boy |OT| Batteries Not Included


I got my notification that Furrtek needed where I lived to bill me for my VirtualTap. Although I replied to him a day ago and still haven’t gotten the follow up email. I am surprised how short of a wait it was for this though, since I’m at 18 months on the wait list for his Fusion MVS Converter.


Never even heard of VirtualTap. I love that even the virtual boy has its mods.


It’s relatively new, I think furrtek just finished it maybe a month or two ago, and it allows you to output RGB, or VGA out of one of the VB’s lenses. It also gives you a few color selections for the graphics.


Does anyone know what resolution the Virtual Boy renders? Well, the mirrors.

So the quoted resolution is often 384 x 224, but surely the 3D effect means the device is actually rendering twice that - one for each eye? So 568 x 224.

I just find it interesting since stuff like Red Alarm might be pretty taxing given it needing to render two viewpoints at max resolution each.


Vertical Force arrived today, played it a couple times to level 3.

  • I like the 2 levels of depth and being able to switch between them, pretty neat concept
  • The music is pretty great, especially the level map music
  • Your ship is too big on the top layer, and you don’t get enough notice of enemies coming from behind in front of you
  • I find it really hard to make out things when there’s a lot going on on the screen, and smaller things like powerups (especially on the bottom plane)

It’s just so neat playing something like this on the VB, so I can look past some of the quirks.


Nice! I need to replay it some day.

I agree that it can be hard to make out what’s going on - I found with larger structures in the foreground bullets tend to go missing sometimes. It might be because I increased the brightness in the menu.

What do you think of the ability to save up drones? After learning how to use the repair drone it ruined the challenge of the bosses - though thankfully the game does record how long it takes to beat the game. Repairing takes a lot of time…


Now that I’ve finished Wario Land (Post a screenshot of the retro game you just finished!) there’s two new games left for me to try: Bound High and Mario Clash. What does everyone make of the latter - is it a really good arcade style game?

Galactic Pinball is still my favourite game on the system. I’m not good enough to have seen the credits yet but I could easily keep playing it long after they’ve rolled!

Of the ten VB games here’s how I’d rank them:

Top tier

  • Galactic Pinball
  • Panic Bomber
  • Virtual Boy Wario Land
  • Jack Bros.
  • Vertical Force


  • Red Alarm
  • Teleroboxer
  • T&E Soft Virtual Golf


  • Mario’s Tennis

Unremarkable or workmanlike

  • V-Tetris

It’s pretty impressive that there’s nothing I’ve played which I’d consider bad or uninteresting. V-Tetris is workmanlike, but everything else is entertaining and intriguing. The high quality of the visuals and audio in the Nintendo R&D 1, Altus, Hudson Soft and T&E Soft games is to be applauded too. Puts a lot of modern stereoscopic non-polygonal efforts to shame.

Is there anything else you would recommend to keep a unit alive? How often should I be turning mine on? I can see myself not using it as regularly now but I’m worried about the headset’s future. As @Peltz also mentioned the ribbon cable adhesive seems to be the issue.


Mario Clash is fine. Just fine. Don’t expect it to wow you as it really is just the old pre super Mario bros, but now in 3d.


I liked it. It’s a good take on the Mario Bros arcade game.


It’s fine.


I think it looks pretty interesting after looking up some information about it. The level design in particular looks like the kind of thing that would still make for an impressive arcade game on modern VR headsets today. If it was rendered in polygons with a moveable camera it would be too fussy to make this type of fixed, but more complex, level stage work.

I think these VB games might be the last pure arcade games R&D1 made for Nintendo before the restructuring in 2004.


Red Alarm retrospective by Jeremy Parish


I wonder if anyone has tried making games for this ever since it was out of production?


There are some home-brew games for Virtual Boy but nothing too amazing last time I checked.

Check out the home-brew section of Planet Virtual Boy.


Cool! I’ll check that out.


Voltz and Peltz… I feel like you two should be rivals… or siblings… or sibling rivals.


I was doing some more reading on the Virtual Boy hardware. Well actually to see how the displays worked again, it had dual 1 x 224 arrays of LEDs to create 768 x 224 resolution for two eyes. But I digress. Basically, I stumbled across a pretty good review for the system here:

What’s even more interesting, though, is the Iwata Asks segment (originally for the 3DS) on the system. Miyamoto reminiscing on his thoughts on how it should have been marketed in particular:

Because the VB was marketed similarly to one of Nintendo’s big console systems it really did have to play it big or go home. Perhaps this is why the Pokemon Mini (remember that?) launched without any licensee business at first.

Miyamoto: That was also true within Nintendo. Our sales department treated the Virtual Boy as an extension of our licensing business. In other words, we sold it as something like the Famicom system.

Miyamoto: And when you do that, selling 100,000 is just a start. But if you think of it as just a fun toy, it’s a big success if you break just 50,000. If sales generated some buzz, and crossed 100,000, then 200,000, then 500,000—quite a good pattern. Viewed like that, Virtual Boy was, I think, quite an appealing toy. To people who viewed it like that, I think that is still an appealing product. But if you place it front and center and think about the licensing business…

Itoi: There was no way for Nintendo to escape it. Everyone assumes that when Nintendo puts out a machine, it must be a full-blown gaming platform.

Miyamoto: Yeah. It can’t be helped. Which is exactly why at the time I thought it was extremely important to portray it properly, including advertisements and sorts to the effect that it’s not a full-scale platform.

Iwata: But you weren’t a main player on that device, so you couldn’t say anything.

Miyamoto: I didn’t have the authority.

Nintendo must have quickly pulled these big marketing plans shortly after launch though, since Gunpei Yokoi is quoted saying along the lines of “Give me one billion yen to market it, and I will launch the Virtual Boy into the stratosphere.”


I remember it being marketed pretty heavily to be honest. Then the marketing stopped completely after about 3 months or so.

I was young then and just going off memory. So take it with a grain of salt.


Reading the above it seems Miyamoto’s point was that it should be marketed as a sideline toy not a mainline console. not that it didn’t receive marketing


I lived that time, and I think the marketing was in line with it somehow supplanting the Game Boy, which was obviously not going to happen. It really should have been marketed more like Miyamoto is noting in the Asks. If they had treated it as a “third pillar” with more of a toy bent to it, then it probably could’ve been characterized as more of a success.

That said, the red-only display was just a massive fail for the time. We were living in a world where Sega had already launched the Saturn and Sony was launching PlayStation. Those were REAL 3D systems with graphics that rivaled what we were playing in arcades. Nintendo themselves were starting to talk about Silicon Graphics and the N64. The Virtual Boy looked downright quaint by comparison.

Ultimately, they did the right thing. It was the wrong system at entirely the wrong time. I think this is why they waited and waited to bring the Wii to market after Gamecube so they could be sure that motion controls would just plain work and there was less concern that the new paradigm wouldn’t be scoffed at. Luckily for them, even though gamers scoffed at the Wii, everyone else did not.