A Good Reason To Celebrate The Virtual Boy’s 20th Anniversary

A Good Reason To Celebrate The Virtual Boy’s 20th Anniversary

Nintendo’s first foray into 3D gaming was released in Japan on July 21, 1995. On this, the Virtual Boy’s 20th birthday, let’s take a moment to appreciate all the joy it has brought gamers over the years. No really, I’m serious.

One of Nintendo’s biggest missteps, the red-and-black 3D gaming machine that is the Virtual Boy also stands as a testament to the company’s dogged dedication of hardware innovation.

Had most other companies released a major product that was met with a response as abysmal as the one the Virtual Boy received, they’d not only stop attempting to think outside of the box, they’d set up a defensive perimeter around it complete with attack dogs and sniper towers.

But Nintendo has gone on to bring us motion control, balance boards, controllers with built-in screens and — most apropos to this occasion — a 3D handheld that actually works, followed shortly by an updated version that actually works well.

So while the Virtual Boy may not have generated much in the way of direct joy, it was instrumental in establishing a Nintendo standard that would eventually make millions of gamers around the world incredibly happy.

Now back to the headache jokes.


  • My little red headache box is one of the crown jewels of my console collection. I don’t get it out often (something something original packaging), but always have a blast when I do.

    Genuinely surprised we’ve not gotten VB games on the Virtual Arcade as yet too! Would be great to get re-releases of games like Mario Clash, Warioland, Red Alarm or Nester’s Funky Bowling. Then there’s that fantastic looking Street Fighter 2 port that was released a few months back too!

  • Look at that awesome symmetrical gamepad with two dpads and try to tell me that the Wii u pro controller is ripping somebody else off!

    This thing not only sets the precedent for Nintendo pushing the boundaries, but it’s also the start of “traditional” gaming input.

    • It’s also the missing link in the transition from SNES to N64 pads. First one designed for 3D gaming.

      The only annoying thing about it is the d-pads have these kind of annoying edges on the outer part of the front face that can get irritating on the fingers after a while.

  • Nintendo were just 20 years ahead of the curve. Sadly, I bet they will be the last to return to this tech while everyone else is rocking Oculus and Morpheus.

    Wish I had one for a console collection

  • The Virtual Boy is awesome and I’ll fight anyone who tries to claim otherwise.

    Really need me a Flash Boy.

    • what is a flash boy? never heard of that one and a Google search didn’t turn up anything lol.

      • Custom cart that lets you load it with ROMs via USB, so you can play homebrew or mods or some of the rarer games that lol I’m not spending 250/500/1000 on that.

  • There is an alternate history of videogames that exists, that completely ignores SEGA and attributes every innovation to Nintendo. I’ve been studying this for years.

    A perfect example;

    “Virtual Boy also stands as a testament to the company’s dogged dedication of hardware innovation.”

    One of the biggest commercial failures, in history, is painted in a positive light.

    Yet what do you read all over the net, when the Sega Mega CD, 32X and Saturn are mentioned?

    When SEGA is referred to, the multitude of hardware innovations that they brought to the market, are always promoted as stupid, idiotic, commercialist.

    This article is not unique and I’m not singling it out. I am only talking about the fact that it is part of a long line of parroted articles and references that can be found all over the net.

    Yet in the actual retro community, this isn’t even an issue.

  • On the new 3ds you can view virtual boy games in 3d on you tube…if only they would port the games to the 3ds

    • There is Virtual Boy emulators for PC, and Xbox original, that allow you to play all games that were ever released. Plus the odd homebrew here and there.

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