Nintendo E3 History: 1995 – Virtual Boy

E3 2011 is just 3 weeks away, and Nintendo fans are conversing across the globe as to what our favourite gaming company has in store for us. Rumours are soaring through the net, some probable, and some just utter crazy, have made a large majority of us excited to say the least. In the run up to E3, I will be taking a look back at some of Nintendo’s wonders, and commercial failures, starting with the Virtual Boy at E3 in 1995.

Mario's Tennis

E3, short for Electronic Entertainment Expo, began back in 1995. Nintendo’s first console to show case at E3 was the Virtual Boy. Designed by Gunpei Yokoi, the Virtual Boy was the very first console to display 3D graphics not on a television. Like the 3DS today, the Virtual Boy created an illusion of depth. The gamer would look look into the eye-piece (similar to binoculars), where an inside projector allowed you to see the monochromatic images, which were red, and a big problem. The problem being that it only contained two colours, red and black. After staring at the screen for a length of time, it seemed to cause eye strain and nausea. A certain brightness needed to be set to view the games correctly, too bright and there was alot of strain, too dark and well, you can’t see anything!

The controller, shaped like an ‘M’, contained six buttons, two D-Pads, the on/off button, and the Virtual Boy’s battery pack.

Virtual Boy Controller

To power the Virtual Boy you needed 6 AA battery’s, or an adaptor. If you didn’t have your controller plugged in, you couldn’t play as the controller powered the system. In most games, both the D-Pads did the same thing, but in others with a more 3D environment, each of the pads had a different feature.

Sadly enough, the Virtual Boy was a flop, due to not having full colour display, giving customers an uncomfortable gaming experience, and retailing at $179.95. Selling only 770,000 units, it was discontinued later on in the year. Yokoi was asked to resign from Nintendo due to this. Only 22 games released in its lifespan, 19 of which were released in Japan, and 14 in North America. Included were Virtual Boy Wario Land, Mario’s Tennis and 3D Tetris. Mario’s Tennis was announced as a two player game, but sadly enough the cable to link two Virtual Boy consoles together was never released.

The Virtual Boy was just a small stepping stone in Nintendo’s 3D gaming history, and they continued to work on what was needed to be done for its consoles to succeed. But even though the Virtual Boy was a major failure, do you think that would stop Nintendo? No way. In this same year, the Ultra 64, also ‘Project Reality‘ was soon to be on its way. You all know what console I’m talking about, yes?

Stay tuned for more Nintendo E3 history.

4 Responses to “Nintendo E3 History: 1995 – Virtual Boy”
  1. mattygamer says:

    A correction I have to make: Gunpei Yokoi resigining due to the Virtual Boy is a myth.

    Nintendo’s PR: “It is reality that Mr. Yokoi has indeed left, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the failure of the Virtual Boy. There’s no doubt that the Virtual Boy was a failure, but the head of the company himself has said that the blame for that rests on the decision to sell it to begin with. The D-pad and Game Boy that Mr. Yokoi developed are incredible. Such a man taking the blame for the 32-bit device and leaving the company is completely made up.”



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