Virtual Boy: the bizarre rise and quick fall of Nintendo’s enigmatic red console

Nearly 30 years after the launch of the Virtual Boy, not much is publicly known about how, exactly, Nintendo came to be interested in developing what would ultimately become its ill-fated console. Was Nintendo committed to VR as a future for video games and looking for technological solutions that made business sense? Or was the Virtual Boy primarily the result of Nintendo going “off script” and seizing a unique, and possibly risky, opportunity that presented itself? The answer is probably a little bit of both.

As it turns out, the Virtual Boy was not an anomaly in Nintendo’s history with video game platforms. Rather, it was the result of a deliberate strategy that was consistent with Nintendo’s way of doing things and informed by its lead creator Gunpei Yokoi’s design philosophy.

↫ Benj Edwards and Jose Zagal at Ars Technica

I’ve never used a Virtual Boy, and in fact, I’ve never even seen one in real life. It was mythical object when I was not even a teenager yet, something we read about in gaming magazines in The Netherlands. We didn’t really know what it was or how it worked, and it wasn’t until much later, in the early YouTube age, that I got to see what using one was actually like in the countless YouTube videos made about the device.

It seems it caused quite a few headaches, was cumbersome to use, had very few games, and those that were sold ended up collecting dust pretty quickly. In that sense, it seems not a lot has changed over the past thirty years.


  1. 2024-05-17 1:16 am
  2. 2024-05-17 10:54 am