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Bull’s Eye

Virtual Boy’s special day has gamers seeing red

Nintendo set its massive marketing machine in motion and blanketed the entire U.S. with a one-day Virtual Boy promotion over the Labor Day weekend. They pitched their Virtual Boy day tents at Blockbuster Video locations in Chicago, Houston, New York, San Francisco and Atlanta.

The EGM news crew took to the streets and attended the Virtual Boy/Blockbuster party in Chicago.

We had our opinions on how much we liked the Virtual Boy and its technology. But we wanted to find out what you, the gamers, thought of Nintendo’s table-top system. We asked some of those who tried the Virtual Boy how they liked the experience and what they thought of the system.

Then we asked how they feel about paying $179 for the system and $39-49 for each of the games that have currently been and will be released for the system. We asked Diana Love what she thought about the Virtual Boy. “It’s interesting, I don’t really understand it, but as you play the games it’s interesting and entertaining. I don’t think I would pay $179 for one. Not right now anyway, but I would pay $99 for it. I think some parents will be hooked on the technology, but I’m a little worried that starring through the viewfinder at the color red might not be too good for you if you stare at the thing for hours on end,” she said.

Robert Colon said, “I like the visual effects of the Virtual Boy. It is very cool. I’m definitely going to pay $179 – sorry $169 with the $10-off coupon that I get after I rent it from Blockbuster. The thing to do is to rent it for a weekend first from Blockbuster for $9.99 for three days with the two games, then make up your mind. You can’t play it for 10 to 15 minutes then decide, ‘Yeah, I’m going to spend that kind of money.’ You have to try it and then decide, it’s that simple.”

Paul Stack, 12, had some interesting things to say. “I like the 3-D graphics. I’m hooked on the Nnintendo brand name, as for the price, I would like to see if it will come down. But for this kind of technology, it’s cheaper than then the other new technologies people are paying for. If it was under $100, I’d buy it right away. At $179, I’ll have to rent it a couple of times before i make up my mind.”

Curtis Cotton, 12, also tried the Virtual Boy at the event. “It’s a very cool technology. However, I bought a Super Scope and I don’t know if my mom’s going to want to take a chance on a system that hasn’t proven itself yet. I’m going to wait and see what type of new software comes out by Christmas, then i might ask for one.”

Maria Arzuago was out shopping and got in line to check out what the hullaballo was all about. “It was a great visual experience, but I lost. I wouldn’t pay $179 for it. I’ll have to check it out some more. I wouldn’t buy it for myself – I’d buy it for my kids. I came here because they wanted to check it out.”

We had a chance to talk with Wally Krol for his Virtual Boy opinions. “I think the technology is neat. I wish it was cheaper. If it was three colors, it would be worth it, one color, red, doesn’t excite me too much. I think people will buy it no matter what the price is. People have to have some toys to play with, whether it’s an antique car, a stereo system or a big-screen TV. If you don’t have toys, life isn’t worth much and $179 is not that much compared to how much some people pay for their toys. Since it’s for the kids, parents will pay $179 for them to have the latest and greatest technology. Nintendo knows their audience and they get their message out very well.

“When the Intellivision came out after Pong, it seems like it was just yesterday – Pong was the start of what we have today. Where we have gone from that is astounding and incredible. I believe in UFOs – when we find them we’ll use their technology for gaming systems and one thing is for sure: their technology will be better and cheaper than $179.
The Virtual Boy party was part of Nintendo’s nationwide product sampling and sweepstakes it had entered into with Blockbuster Video. Through December 1995, consumers can rent a Virtual Boy for three nights for $9.99 at 3,000 participating Blockbuster stores nationwide.

It’s a good thing Nintendo has a tie-in with Duracell batteries. The Virtual Boy adapter wasn’t on store shelves as of this writing, and the average battery life for six AA batteries is three to four hours – that could get expensive. This was one innovative promotion and Nintendo should be recognized for it.

From: Electronic Gaming Monthly 11/95 Volume 76

Event details
From: September 4, 1995
Location: Various locations