Virtual Boy mod allows the system to be played on a 3D TV with polarized glasses

Nice to see the Virtual Boy still has its fans

The Virtual Boy was never the most comfortable system to play, making you smush your face up against the unit to see what's going on. Thanks to a new mod, you can now sit back comfortably on your own couch and play.

Modder Mike Mika took the Virtual Boy and tweaked it so that it's possible to play the system on a 3D TV. That way you can grab a pair of polarized glasses and play on the big screen. It doesn't change the fact that the system plays in red and black, but at least you can relax a bit while you're burning holes in your eyes!

Thanks to MysteryMan for the heads up!

GoNintendo Thought: Nintendo, it's time to give Virtual Boy Wario Land a second chance

This port is long overdue, Nintendo

While I love Nintendo, a lot of things about the company confuse me. This is one of those things, and it only confuses me more as time rolls on. I had to write about it to get things out, as the topic has been driving me nuts! As always, thanks for reading.

When you look back on Nintendo's history, there are a ton of major hits and a small amount of misses. When it comes to those misses, there might not be one greater than the Virtual Boy. Nintendo's black-and-red, pseudo-3D device seemed to stall right out of the gate, and never got anywhere close to recovering. The system saw just 22 games released for it, and only 14 of those made it to North America. While the Wii U might stick out in the minds of Nintendo fans for failing to find a market, the Virtual Boy was a far bigger disaster.

While the Virtual Boy's library was absolutely minuscule, there were still some fun titles in the mix. 3D Tetris proves once again that any version of Tetris offers up some fun, Teleroboxer gave us a new perspective on Punch-Out!!-style games, Red Alarm impressed with its virtual landscapes and shmup action, and so on. All that said, there's undeniably one title that stands head and shoulders above all the others. That would be the oddly-named Virtual Boy Wario Land.

When Virtual Boy Wario Land came around, the Wario Land series was actually quite new. We got introduced to Wario in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Gold Coins, and saw Wario take the lead in Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3. Outside of that, that was it for the Wario Land series. It was clear Wario was gaining in popularity with fans, thanks to the completely different take on Mario in terms of character design, as well as the new gameplay mechanics Wario offered. That's why giving Wario another outing made perfect sense at the time. That early wave of Wario momentum led us to Virtual Boy Wario Land.

Sadly for the Virtual Boy, Virtual Boy Wario Land wasn't ready for the platform's launch. It would show up November in North America and December in Japan, which put it 3+ months out from launch in the states, and nearly half a year after the Virtual Boy's release in Japan. Not having a heavy-hitting, more traditional platformer at the Virtual Boy's launch certainly hurt the system and its appeal. Would the Virtual Boy have been a success with Virtual Boy Wario Land alongside launch? Most likely not, but there's no doubt it would have gotten quite a few more eyes on the hardware.

Virtual Boy Wario Land never had a shot at finding fans on the Virtual Boy. The system just didn't penetrate the market, and was dead before it even got started. By the time Nintendo pulled the plug on the Virtual Boy, the system failed to hit a million units sold, moving just 770k since launch. That failure left us a small, but interesting library of titles that the vast majority of Nintendo fans never got to experience. Virtual Boy Wario Land is no doubt the gem of that collection, and it absolutely deserves a second lease on life. Truth be told, the fact that Virtual Boy Wario Land never saw a remake or re-release on another platform is one of the greatest Nintendo mysteries in my eyes.

When you strip away the 3D visuals of Virtual Boy Wario Land, you are left with another fantastic 2D Wario game. A line of titles that Nintendo seems to have forgotten in recent years, mind you. Wario sets out on yet another adventure to hunt down as much treasure as he can, unearthing hidden rooms filled with collectible items and more. Along the way you'll take advantage of unique Wario abilities that he gains through hats. Wario can get an Eagle hat for a mid-air dash, Bull hat for a super-charge, and a Dragon hat that lets him breath fire. Wario has to make use of these power-ups to hunt down a key in each stage, which unlocks an elevator that provides access to the next level.

Of course, Nintendo set out to make use of the Virtual Boy's 3D capabilities with Virtual Boy Wario Land. Levels are filled with special blocks that let Wario jump from the foreground to the background and back. This lets you access new platforming challenges hidden in the background, visit new areas of a level, and even find secret treasures. The 3D effect was also used during boss battles, which were combined with some pretty impressive sprite scaling. You would deal with baddies that were far off in the distance, including a fight across a flooded cavern, a creature that leaps between sand dunes, and more. Throw in some mini-games between stages that make use of 3D as well, and you had a real tour de force for the platform.

Now do those features make it impossible for Virtual Boy Wario Land to exist outside of the Virtual Boy? They definitely don't, as they're little more than visual trickery to show off what the system can do. It might be a tad easier to judge distance on attacks during boss battles, but it's nothing that couldn't be easily handled in traditional 2D as well. The same goes for the background/foreground jumping mechanic. It definitely gave us a new gameplay mechanic that games hadn't used at the time, but it's not something where you need 3D to enjoy it. You can still see what's going on in 2D perfectly fine.

It's that tidbit that brings us to a rather interesting part of this whole discussion. There's another developer out there who felt that Virtual Boy Wario Land deserved to exist outside of the Virtual Boy. Jools Watsham, the head honcho at Atooi (formerly Renegade Kid), had a desire to see Virtual Boy Wario Land get another shot at finding an audience. Watsham was the perfect dev to handle such a project, as his own Mutant Mudds series enjoyed the exact same mechanic as Virtual Boy Wario Land. Mutant Mudds lets you jump back and forth using special blocks as well. Watsham new how to work with the mechanic, understood the intricacies, and even made the feature work on non-3D platform like the Wii U.

Obviously, there's another reason why bringing back Virtual Boy Wario Land made perfect sense. Many years after the Virtual Boy, Nintendo returned to the idea of 3D gaming with the 3DS. A portable platform that let you end 3D stereoscopic visuals without the need for glasses. Even better, it did away with the Virtual Boy's red-and-black visuals in exchange for full color. The 3DS eliminated all the struggles the Virtual Boy presented in order to bring 3D visuals to the masses. Whether you played with 3D or not, or even liked the feature, there was no denying that it worked.

It was the 3DS' existence that convinced Watsham it was the time for Virtual Boy Wario Land to return. Rather than just pining for a release, Watsham took on the project himself, working up the above revamped version of Virtual Boy Wario Land. According to Watsham, he pitched the idea of remaking Virtual Boy Wario Land for the 3DS to Nintendo, giving the game a color makeover in the process. Unfortunately, Nintendo had turned down the pitch and that was that. No reason was ever given for Nintendo shooting down the idea, which only makes the entire situation that much more frustrating.

Nintendo not giving Virtual Boy Wario Land another chance to shine on other platforms is one thing. Nintendo not doing a re-release of Virtual Boy Wario Land for the 3DS is an absolute travesty. How on earth do you create a new platform capable of glasses-free 3D and not bring over the true gem of your software library from the Virtual Boy? It seems like a no-brainer decision, yet Nintendo never bothered to make it happen. They didn't tackle the project on their own, nor were they willing to work with a third party to make it happen. It's an absolutely baffling choice that only gets more frustrating the more you think about it.

Some might say that Nintendo was probably eager to move on from the Virtual Boy, and they didn't want to revisit the failure in their new efforts. That would be a good excuse, if not for Nintendo referencing the Virtual Boy in numerous titles going forward. The Virtual Boy has famously become part of the WarioWare series, popping up in numerous titles throughout the years. It's not the only place you see nods to the Virtual Boy. You can find the device tucked away inside Tomodachi Life, the Virtual Boy is directly referenced/used in Luigi's Mansion 3, and so on. Even Nintendo of America's former President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime was spotted with the Virtual Boy in an official video released by Nintendo. While Nintendo may not be happy with how the Virtual Boy was received, there's little doubt they've since embraced that part of their history.

So what is it that keeps Virtual Boy Wario Land from getting another shot? I have zero clue, which is what makes the situation so anger-inducing. It stars a character that is important to Nintendo, it has only grown in praise since it originally released, and it never had a chance to find any sizable audience. Virtual Boy Wario Land turned out to be wasted effort on Nintendo's part, which obviously wasn't the plan. We saw that Nintendo wasn't willing to let that happen with their Wii U software, which is why they've brought over so many of their Wii U titles to the Switch. That decision lead to increased sales for almost every single title that got ported. Why hasn't Virtual Boy Wario Land ever gotten the same treatment?

Could you imagine if Nintendo announced a Virtual Boy Wario Land remake for the Switch? If Nintendo went with an eShop-exclusive launch for the title, I could only imagine how big it would be. For many, this would be a brand-new Wario game in a traditional style. I can't fathom it requiring a ton of work to bring over to Switch, and it seems like the title would be a surefire hit. Fans would absolutely jump at the chance to play this part of history they never had the chance to enjoy. No matter how many different ways I look at the situation, I see that all the pieces of the puzzle are there. Fans would be shocked and excited to see it, the digital distribution would cut down on expense, and the game's design is still solid rock-solid 25 years later.

Nintendo, it's time to do Virtual Boy Wario Land some justice. The game is a part of your history that so many never had the chance to play, and there's no doubt they'd love to give it a go. It's crazy to think that something like the never-released StarFox 2 actually saw launch so many years later, yet a game like Virtual Boy Wario Land can't get another shot. The fans deserve it, the character deserves it, and perhaps most importantly, your hard work deserves it! Virtual Boy Wario Land is a fantastic game that stands the test of time design-wise. Give players the opportunity to go hands-on with your diamond in the rough.

Luigi's Mansion 3 devs explain their approach to money collecting, and how the Virtual Boy reference was received internally

Money, money everywhere!

In Luigi's Mansion 3, there is an absolute ton of money to collect. Dollars, gold bars, coins, and more are scattered all over the place. There's nary a room in the game that isn't chock-full of cash to grab. The thing is, there's really not all that much you can do with the money! Why did Nintendo include so much moolah to collect, but not offer up much to spend it on? Nintendo's Kensuke Tanabe explained in an interview with Kotaku.

“The ‘feedback that acquiring money makes one feel happy’ is something that has been demonstrated in Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda, so it was something we wanted to include.”

The dev team also wanted to point out that the money in the hotel wasn't put there by the ghosts, but had been stashed away there a very long time ago. That's an intriguing little bit of detail, but Nintendo didn't share anymore insight into why it was stashed there to begin with.

Nintendo were inspired by Mario and Zelda history when adding money collecting into the Luigi's Mansion series, but that's not the only bit of nostalgia you'll find in Luigi's Mansion 3. The game pays tribute to the Virtual Boy with the Virtual Boo, a communication and map device in-game. The Virtual Boy wasn't exactly a hit for Nintendo, which might lead you to believe that there was some reluctance to add it into Luigi's Mansion 3. According to Nintendo's Yoshihito Ikebata, that wasn't the case at all.

“The impression with the Virtual Boy is that it’s a ‘machine that specializes in three-dimensional expression,’ and is a part of Nintendo history. Regarding putting this in the game, we had a good idea with the Virtual Boo name that was applied from the start. From within the development team, it was decided from the beginning of development to use that as the subject. There wasn’t a negative response from Nintendo internally, and it was approved without any problems. I believe that there are users who aren’t familiar with the Virtual Boy, but it would be great if they used this opportunity to learn about the Virtual Boy.”

Virtual Boy turned into a console that you can play on TV

All the fun, none of the eye bleeding!

Wouldn't it be nice to play the Virtual Boy without having to cram your head into a headset? The gang at iFixRetro thought it would be, so they set out to turn the Virtual Boy into a console you can hook up to your TV. All it took was a 3D-printed case and some technical magic from modder Furrtek to make it happen.

While the console mod won't take away the Virtual Boy's red and black color scheme, it should be a lot easier on the eyes now that it's not crammed directly into your eyeballs. The only thing you lose is the 3D effect, which I think a lot of people will be willing to give up for the comfort and ease of playing on TV.

Game Freak considered releasing a Virtual Boy game, but didn't get the time to do it

Oh, what could have been

The Virtual Boy is but a quick blip in Nintendo's history, but it's certainly a sore spot. The system stumbled out of the gate, and was yanked quicker than any other Nintendo hardware out there. What came out at launch was pretty much the bulk of what the system saw, as it was dead in the water soon thereafter.

Ever wonder what could have been for the platform? If it ever found its legs and got some momentum going, it seems that Game Freak would have cooked up something. In an interview with Game Informer, Game Freak's Junichi Masuda said that the studio thought about a Virtual Boy game, but it never came to fruition. The title would have been a new IP, but according to Masuda, "by the time we were really getting around to it, the system was on the way out."

It sounds like Masuda would have really liked to create something for the Virtual Boy, as he said that he "really liked" the platform.

Jeremy Parish's Virtual Boy Retrospective #00 - Aheadache of its time

Having explored the span of the Virtual Boy's librarly, let's now create a little context for its existence. There's more to this curious little system than the fact that it bombed at retail and Nintendo cut its life short. It represents designer Gunpei Yokoi's passion for interesting applications for affordable technology, prefigured some game industry design standards, and presented a remarkably solid library of software. Was Virtual Boy flawed? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean it's not worth experiencing, or remembering.

Jeremy Parish's Virtual Boy Works #21 - Virtual Bowling

This is it! The very final Japanese release for Virtual Boy. The final Virtual Boy game retrospective. And the most expensive Virtual Boy game by far. But you know, it's kind of nice to end this series on a high note. Virtual Bowling is legitimately a fantastic take on the sport, with great mechanics and pleasant visuals. Pity that a boxed copy will set you back as much as a decent used car these days.

Jeremy Parish's Virtual Boy Works #19 - Virtual Lab

The worst of the worst

The second of Virtual Boy's big-ticket Japan-only rarities, Virtual Lab stands out from the rest by virtue of being the absolute worst. It's a disaster of a puzzle game, riddled with derivative yet ill-conceived mechanics, terrible visuals and sound, and a lack of quality that permeates every aspect of this overpriced cartridge. Do not engage.

Jeremy Parish's Virtual Boy Works #18 - Space Invaders: Virtual Collection retrospective

Red Dead Invasion

We're nearly done with Virtual Boy Works, but before we can put a bow on this venture, we need to tackle the four daunting Japan-only collector's pieces that shipped in the console's final month of existence in that market. First up is Space Invaders: Virtual Collection, a pretty decent recreation of and embellishment on the venerable arcade classics. It's a game that would be a no-brainer pick-up if not for the fact that its value has shot into the stratosphere thanks to its extreme rarity. Oh well.

Did You Know Gaming - Virtual Boy

Did you know?

In this video, Did You Know Gaming takes a look at some facts, secrets and Easter eggs surrounding the virtual reality VR console, Nintendo Virtual Boy and Virtual Boy games such as Wario Land and Mario's Tennis.


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