I have recently gotten my first working VB, so I thought I would share my experience and thoughts here.
I started collecting retro consoles around November last year, because I love and appreciate games and consoles of yesteryear. I started with the GameCube and Original Xbox. At some point, I think at least a few months before I got the Xbox, I found a video by The Gaming Historian that has details about Nintendo’s most obscure, post-80’s console, the Virtual Boy.
I was intrigued immediately. The red and black colors, the age, the entirely unique display technology, the exclusive games, this console ticked all of the boxes of something I wanted to get into as a new collector. The only issue was the price. I had to wait for quite a while to consider getting it, since most non-complete systems are going for $200-$400 USD, and much more for complete/sealed systems. Since I didn’t have a job at that point, I couldn’t justify it between the price alone, plus the risk that it wouldn’t work.
But, I have gotten a steady job since then, moved to a new area, and a bit after that I rediscovered the Virtual Boy after picking up a few other consoles. I looked up the prices again, and thought that I could actually give it a shot. After buying and then selling a system that didn’t work, I got my hands on a full, non box system that does work! A stand, visor, controller, good third party power supply, soldered display cables and Mario’s Tennis for $377. Maybe a bit more than I would have wanted to pay for it, but I can’t complain with how this system was well cared for. The attached photo is of my unit.
Part of why I wanted to try out this system is because I am a light sensitive person. It’s not a super serious condition for non-harsh light, it just makes it much easier for my eyes to fatigue and develop a headache. I was curious to see whether my condition would exaggerate the reported health warnings that the system has. My thought was that maybe because this system only uses red light, that I might be able to last about as long as I do with a modern VR system. I am happy to say that although I do have a limit to how much I can play at once, about half an hour is my cutoff, pretty much is how long I can go with modern VR. Cool, just long enough to enjoy the games without going overboard. Outside of that, yes this console will give you eye strain, at least. What exactly will happen will vary per person, but this isn’t really a console that most people can just stay in for hours at a time. Despite this, I still love this system.
The other game I have is Teleroboxer, a game I got when I got the non-working system. This is currently my absolute favorite VB game. Before I received my units, I would play a handful of VB games using a homebrewed Wii U, and I found myself always coming back to Teleroboxer. I find this surprising, since I never was super into games like Punch Out, but I absolutely adore this game. The visuals, the soundtrack and the unique controls make this a fantastic game. It makes me wish Nintendo had bothered to make a VB Virtual Console, if only for this game alone. Every new fighter I fight frustrates me, but in a good way. Normally, if I were to be frustrated enough with a game, I would stop playing it, but with Teleroboxer I haven’t gotten to that point, and I don’t think I will. The game is just that good. Something about controlling the hands with each respective D-Pad, punching with the shoulder buttons and the responsiveness of the game just feels amazing.
Honestly, I haven’t put a whole lot of time into Mario’s Tennis, but from what I have played, it’s fun. The 3D effect actually makes it easier to see where the ball is in relation to the character. Outside of that, the game doesn’t really take advantage of the hardware, which is a shame. It would have been cool to control the ball somewhat with the second D Pad.
The 3D, although noticeable, did not quite live up to the hype the advertising made it out to be, at least not like the 3DS. The 3D is a really cool effect, but it doesn’t add too much. I’m not too sure if my unit has a slight issue with the 3D, if I haven’t set it up correctly, or I just over-hyped that myself. I probably just over-hyped it based on my 3DS experience. If you are curious about the 3D effect, it is possible to view the 3D without a system. You can use 3D glasses with an emulator, use a modern VR system that has a 3D video viewer or emulator, or you can watch a 3D video like this Longplay (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DBLqaovAKc) on a device that supports 3D, like a New branded 3DS on a mobile version of the YouTube website.
I really wish the VB did better in the market. Despite its flaws, I love this system for its place in history and for what it could do. The advertising made it out to be a system that would be much better than the SNES, which although true in some ways, wasn’t really the advertising route they should have taken. Pretty much everything is unique compared to what was out at the time, perhaps if Nintendo marketed it differently, we might have a Virtual Boy Advance. But hey, at least the VB went to inspire the 3DS, possibly the best handheld system Nintendo produced.
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