Nintendo realized their mistake, that’s why. The system just doesn’t work, and still wouldn’t in todays market with color screens. Here are my theories on why it failed…
1) It is not social at all. And Nintendo is all about family fun and getting everyone involved (any modern commercial shows the whole family on the Wii, or multiplayer DS games), and the VB is the exact opposite of that. Even with linked play, only the people playing can see what is going on.
2) It is too much of a hassle to use. With a regular console, the console stays plugged into your tv, so all you do is grab a controller and start playing. With a portable system, you just grab the system and go. But with the Virtual Boy, odds are you won’t leave it set up all the time, so whenever you want to play, you have to assemble the whole thing, and find a place to play where the table and chair heights are just right. And if you use the AC adapter, you are entangled inside a web of wire (at least thats what it seems like to me).
3) It just cost too much for so many limitations. And they could not cut costs any more than they did.
4) Too much negative PR. Everyone knows it as the “red system that gives you headaches,” and the warning it could damage younger kids eyes only made it worse.
5) My neck/back hurt after playing. I think it is fair to say yours does too.
Even if they released a new VB with color OLED or whatever screens, they would still have most of those problems.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love the Virtual Boy. I would say it is my favorite system, although I really don’t play any video games very much. From a technological standpoint, the VB is really cool being it has a creative display that gave them such high resolution at a somewhat cheap price for 1995. I played V-Tetris for the first time the other day, and couldn’t believe how nice it looked. Yeah, I know that is a simple 2d display, but everything was so smooth, and well it is my favorite version of Tetris now.
Another thing is that the sound and graphics were just not good enough compared to other systems. Even other systems in that period that failed (the 32X, Jaguar, 3DO, etc.) had much better graphics than the sprite-based VB. Of couse, the VB is 3D, but that’s not enough if it couldn’t generate graphics that actually looked realistic.