Virtual Boy

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The Virtual Boy (Japanese: バーチャルボーイ Virtual Boy) was a video game console designed by Gunpei Yokoi and released by Nintendo on August 14, 1995. Designed to bring virtual reality into the home, it consisted of a visor on a pair of spindly legs, and used cartridges that were similar to those of a Game Boy's in size and appearance. Ultimately, the Virtual Boy failed as a console, and was released only in Japan and North America with a full library of only 22 games ever released for the system.



The Virtual Boy was first unveiled as the "VR32", a next-gen console that would serve alongside the upcoming Nintendo 64. Whereas the Nintendo 64 would bring Nintendo games into 3D on a 2D screen, the Virtual Boy was said to put the player into the game, to experience it almost firsthand.


The design of the console has been described as mushroom-like, with the red visor sitting atop two small legs crossed at the middle. Instead of a small screen or inputs to a television, the Virtual Boy features a viewfinder that looks into the system, where the images are displayed. Each eye sees a slightly different image, leading to the perception of a three-dimensional shape.

Due to cost and the low-quality nature of LCD displays in 1995, it was decided ultimately that the system would not be in color, but in monochrome, like the Game Boy. Unlike the Game Boy, however, which featured shades of gray pixels on a greenish screen, the Virtual Boy used red LEDs to create images on a background of black. This proved to be painful to the eyes, and Nintendo's many warnings of eye strain to customers dissuaded them from purchasing the console. The upcoming Nintendo 64 also dissuaded many who did not wish to pay for two new consoles in such a short span of time.

After the Virtual Boy was discontinued, Gunpei Yokoi left Nintendo, feeling the fault was his own. Nintendo's rivals at the time leading up to the release of the Nintendo DS believed that the system's dual screens would present players with the same trouble that the Virtual Boy did, leading to its own demise, and Nintendo averted any risk by choosing to market it as a third pillar, rather than as the next installment in the Game Boy line.


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