V-Rtifacts

Tag Archive: Virtual Boy

Virtual Boy – Another Perspective…

I don’t really agree with the Virtual Boy being VR’s “nail in the coffin”. I think it was just one of many crappy products. Maybe it could have saved the VR hype for a while if it was a big success, but as it is it’s just one of the many VR obscurities that simply didn’t sell.

Actually when you look back over a 15 year distance it is quite irritating that it was such a failure – after all Nintendo always had big successes with technically disappointing hardware – after the SNES, Nintendo constantly produced low tech consoles – not crap but low tech. With Super Nintendo they were technically “on par” (or at least close) with SEGA’s Genesis. With the original Game Boy they started the actual “wonder” – offering the console with the least attractive hardware at the best price and selling millions of them as the games are simply fun. This worked well with the game boy – although even for 1989 the tech was devastatingly poor, it sold like sliced bread. SEGA released the Game Gear one year later which had a much higher resolution full color screen, faster processor and better sound (If you can call the game boy’s beeping even sound) and sold worse. They pulled the same over and over with later consoles, I don’t even wanna go into detail.

Number 5 in PC World’s “Ugliest Products in Tech History” – VIRTUAL BOY

Nintendo’s 1995 Virtual Boy was a whole cartridge based game system inside a desktop-mounted-head stereoscopic immersive display. Designed by Gunpei Yokoi of Gameboy fame, and offered for $180 retail, the market was less than kind. It was withdrawn from the market in less than a year and now can still be found late in the day at weekend garage sales.

The actual displays were unique, a rapidly vibrating linear array of 224 red leds. The array was vibrated at 55 hz, sweeping out a dim red raster. The concept was borrowed from Reflection Technology which had introduced a monocular augmented reality head mounted display in 1990.

Needless to say, Nintendo dumped Yokoi despite his success with Gameboy, and he died in a car wreck a year later. In many ways the Virtual Boy also put the final nail into the 90’s VR craze.

Apropos of the Virtual Boy, the following G4 critique features dominant raster lines, but sadly not Olivia Munn.