26th anniversary of the release! Throwback to the “Virtual Boy” VR game machine that was too fast –GAME Watch

Today, July 21, is the 26th anniversary of the release of the Nintendo Hard “Virtual Boy”. Hardware for enjoying VR (virtual reality) games such as PlayStation VR, Oculus, and HTC Vive is now widespread, but in 1995 when it was first released, “VR-themed game consoles” themselves were rare.

Speaking of the release order of Nintendo hardware, after Super Nintendo and before NINTENDO 64. In the sense that Mario was 3D before the appearance of the so-called “Mario 3D” after “Super Mario 64”, and in the meaning you challenged VR so long ago?! down like.

virtual boy body

Although it is a virtual boy who enters the classic game machine in terms of classification, around the time an almost new machine is excavated with other old materials in the used warehouse by GAME Watch editorial department. “It happened. This is your chance to re-evaluate Virtual Boy on the occasion of the 26th anniversary!

However, the memory of the virtual boy is not so strong for me. As a distant childhood memory I tried playing in a game nook somewhere in a game store or department store, it certainly looks three dimensional, but it was a red screen and black.

If so, I’d like to take a closer look at what kind of material the VR-themed Virtual Boy was in the first place. From setup to gaming feel, hopefully this will be a blueprint to give this machine some respect looking back in the current 2021 outlook.

Virtual Boy is a standalone VR game machine!

Virtual Boy as hardware is roughly divided into three parts: glasses, stepladder and controller.

The bezels, which are characterized by a particularly deep red design, are the symbol and the heart of this machine. Looking through these glasses, you can see the game screen. In terms of feel, it’s almost as good as current VR game consoles.

Front, side, glasses part of the main body

The step stool is a step stool as is, and it firmly supports the heavy part of the glasses. The angle can be adjusted by turning the fixing screw according to the environment and the posture of the player.

And the controller is connected from the glasses body with a cable. This device is designed to run on AA batteries instead of being connected to an outlet. There is a box on the back of the controller which holds 6 AA batteries (6!). Since the weight of 6 batteries is added, it feels heavy when you hold the controller.

What I find interesting is that the method of adjusting the glasses is almost the same as today’s VR game consoles. The glasses have buttons to adjust the IPD (pupillary distance) and FOCUS (focus adjustment), which is an analog design but rather intuitive.

In addition to the connection terminal for the controller, there is a volume control button, a 3.5mm earphone jack, etc. downstairs. The sound is stereo, and it is functionally necessary and sufficient.

When I assembled it the wiring itself was simple as it didn’t have a power cable originally. The Virtual Boy is a standalone VR game machine that is surprisingly refreshing.

*When the article first appeared, the direction of the stepladder when assembled was reversed. We apologize for the correction.

Check out the virtual boy game!

Now let’s see the essential content of the game. What I was able to play this time was “Galactic Pinball” and “Mario’s Tennis” which were searched along with the main body. Both are launch titles released on July 21, 1995.

“Galactic Pinball” is a space-themed pinball game. Choose one of four stages and play the ball aiming for a high score.

“Mario’s Tennis” is a tennis game where you play against “Super Mario” characters such as Mario and Luigi. You can play single battles and double battles with CPU.

[Flipper Galactique]

A pinball game aiming for a high score. Various gadgets are set on the four stages and you can enjoy both acquiring and producing scores.

[Le tennis de Mario]

A game against the CPU where the familiar Mario and others play tennis. When you move back and forth, you can feel the depth of the coat dynamically. A work where the combination of 3D and 2D can be seen, such as the figures and balls speaking in 2D .

Speaking of Virtual Boy, the red and black game screen represented by the red LED. When I try it again, I can feel the depth even though it is a single color, and if I adjust it, it will be clearly reflected on the edge of the screen without any blurring. As a stereoscopic expression, it’s impressive that the closer it is to the better, the more accurate it is.

At the time of Virtual Boy’s release, PlayStation and Sega Saturn were already on sale (PlayStation was released on December 4, 1994, Sega Saturn was released on November 22, 1994). In a sense, monochromatic gaming feels like it was back a generation ago, but instead the impact of stereoscopic vision, where the depth of gaming is transmitted directly to the brain, is an experience. unique. It clearly stands out among game consoles of the time.

A little aside, these two have pretty good music. As for the tone, it sounds like a “slightly rich chiptune” that’s a bit wider than the NES, but the sound comes and goes steadily, perhaps with the three-dimensional effect of VR in mind. The thing is, it makes the best use of the characteristics of stereo, and the highlight is that “the sound wraps around even though it’s a chiptune”. If you’re a chiptune fan, it’s so comfortable that you absolutely must maintain the BGM group of the Virtual Boy software.

However, the virtual boy feels he is rocking up to the impact of virtual reality “the depth of stereoscopic vision is amazing”. You feel that the expression is more dynamic when you feel the depth, but honestly, I think the precise stereoscopic vision creates epoch-making synergies with the game system.

Now VR has improved resolution and refresh rates, improved tracking accuracy, while glasses have been made lighter, enabling a standalone gaming experience with exceptional immersion. At that moment, I feel like I’ve finally entered a new era.

Based on that, I imagine maybe it was the Virtual Boy who did the best he could at the time on the subject of virtual reality, despite the incredible limitations of technology and various things. If so, the incision captain is so big he’s dazzling, and that’s why he’s loved and hard to understand. It’s totally unreasonable…

Congratulations on the 26th anniversary of the release of Virtual Boy!

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