We're using cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. More info

Every year Nintendo of Japan traditionally introduced their newest games and consoles to gamers and insiders on their own trade show, the Shoshinkai (スペースワールド).

In 1994, it was the Virtual Boy’s big day in the Harumi International Trade Center in Tokio, when it was first shown to the public.

Prehistory: After it came out in early 1994 that Gunpei Yokoi’s R&D1 team and Reflection Technology had been working on a 3D console for 2 years, rumours and artist impressions of project Virtual Reality and VR32 came up all over the world. Everybody was anxious to know about the wonder machine Yokoi may have developed this time, after he already invented the incredibly successful Game Boy before.

As big as the hype was before Shoshinkai, as big was the disappointment when finally the curtain fell to reveal Nintendo’s “wondermachine” to the public… A bizarre looking, bulky red piece of hardware on a stand, plus only three games in early state, which all looked pretty poor and were absolutely nothing revolutionary. What should people think about that? Still it was from Nintendo, the biggest and most respected video game company of the world, but the three playable games shown, “Mario Bros. VB”, “Space Pinball” and “Teleroboxer” were half finished at best and really nothing that could excite the visitors of the show. A lot of them even complained that the system was uncomfortable and that it would cause headaches after a short time.

Not only the games, but also the Virtual Boy itself was only shown in prototype form, the display systems were running off AC Adapters. The displays were placed around some blue “pillars”, which had Virtual Boy logos on them and screens, on which demo videos were running. Hosts explained the system to visitors.

Nintendo stated that they wanted to sell 3 million systems and 14 million games in the first year. Besides the three playable games shown on Shoshinkai, 2 more games were announced to be available at the launch of the system, which was said to in June in Japan and late 1995/early 1996 in Europe. Respectively 2 to 3 games were announced to be released in the following months, 12 third parties were on board at that point of time. The price was said to be 19,800 yen, which was about $200 at the time.

Nintendo’s president Hiroshi Yamauchi told the UK-based magazine Total!: “It has always been Nintendo’s strategy to introduce new hardware systems only when technological breakthroughs allow us to offer innovative entertainment at a price that appeals to a worldwide audience. Virtual Boy delivers this and more. It will transport game players into a virtual utopia with sights and sounds unlike anything they have ever experienced – all at the price of a current home video system”.

After Shoshinkai, not many positive articles about the Virtual Boy were in the media. For many, the system already was a “Virtual Flop”.

Event details
From: November 15, 1994
To: November 16, 1994
Location: Harumi International Trade Center, Toyko