Nintendo’s original VR headset is still receiving new games thanks to an active community of indie developers.
In 1995, Nintendo launched the Virtual Boy, an at-home “VR” device featuring stereoscopic 3D graphics, a red monochrome display, and 22 questionable games; I’m looking at you Waterworld.
I myself have fond memories of remaining hunched over my kitchen table actively destroying my retinas with hours of games like Mario’s Tennis. Sure there was always the chance of developing scoliosis from leaning forward into the headset too long, but I mean, come on, it’s Mario Clash we’re talking about?
Despite its flaws, I’ll always appreciate how the Virtual Boy was able to successfully immerse me in its rather bizarre catalog of games in a way that standard video game consoles couldn’t at the time. It was a genuine attempt at something new.
Unfortunately, the Virtual Boy failed to meet sales expectations and the company ceased production just a year after its launch, fading into obscurity like so many other victims of the 90s VR boom. Or so we thought.
27 years after its release the Virtual Boy is still receiving new games thanks to active communities of indie developers working on their own home-brewed apps.
One of the largest of these communities is Planet Virtual Boy. Here a modern Virtual Boy enthusiast can find everything they need from a list of Virtual Boy games to hardware guides. In the Homebrew tab you’ll find a growing list of games made by the community for the community.
There’s also a forum you can visit to chat with other Virtual Boy fans and a marketplace for purchasing additional parts.
The website is a testament to the Virtual Boy’s lasting impression. The device has developed a cult-like following. Whether that’s a result of the recent advancements in modern VR technology or a resurgence in the popularity of 90s culture remains to be seen. Either way, I’m happy to see Nintendo’s long-neglected console get the attention it deserves. And it doesn’t stop there.
Hard-working developers have begun creating VR emulators that allow you to play classic Virtual Boy games in all their red monochrome glory on headsets such as the Meta Quest. You can find more information on how to do that here.
Feature Image Credit: Sergey Galyonkin
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