Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 6, 2011

Email: Virtual Boy

Virtual Boy failed because of lack of good games? I was fairly young so my memory is probably not all that accurate, but it seems to me that it died no more than about 6 months after it launched. That’s barely enough time for the launch titles to be released, and no console has ever launched with more than a couple good games. There’s no way that was the reason for it failing, or every console ever made would have failed in the same way. I remember the scare headlines about how it could damage your eyes, and I think because of that retailers were going to stop carrying it. I remember playing the tennis and Wario games at a store, and they were fun. But the reason it died is because nobody bought it. And why would you? Look at it. It’s got “Boy” in the title as if it had Game Boy DNA; you expect it to be a portable but it’s not, it has to sit on a table and you stick your face in it. It wasn’t a home console or a handheld, so what were you supposed to do with it, set aside a whole table and area of your house for it, so that only one person in your family could play? Not when everyone can play the NES… and the 3D wasn’t valued by customers (it was cool, but not worth paying for). Much more value was put on color output, which their home consoles already supported and the Virtual Boy didn’t.

Anyway, it seems to me that the Virtual Boy is even more indicative of Nintendo’s current direction than the N64 and GameCube are. With the 3DS you have a “portable” which isn’t really portable and has 3D output, and with the Wii U you have a home console focused on isolating the gamer from everyone else, just like the Virtual Boy. We all know how well that direction works…
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You describe how I remember it. Virtual Boy died very fast and had a high resistance from customers. Parents were scared what it would do to their kids’ eyes.I know what you’re saying how 3DS is like the Virtual Boy. But if I said, “Nintendo is going Virtual Boy with the 3DS!”, the line of ‘Virtual Boy’ instantly turns off minds. People will think I am trolling or something. But if I said, “Nintendo is returning to the Gamecube direction with the 3DS!” people wouldn’t automatically reject that line.
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I’ve been wondering about the software side of this. Nintendo really, really wants 3d. But why? Does Nintendo have some incredible ideas for software use with it? The only purpose for hardware for 3d is if it is to make excellent software. When we examine Nintendo’s 3d celebration, we discover…
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Mario-
Run around to find a star. Talk to penguins.
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Zelda-
Puzzles. And horrendous storytelling.
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Metroid-
Maternal Instincts
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Why is Nintendo pursuing 3d if this is the destination? Concerning 3d, we’ve only been talking about the hardware. But what about the software? What is the purpose of going all 3d if this is all we’re going to get from the games?

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