The Nerd: It's the mid '90s. Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis were the two big competitors. The 16-bit era was coming to an end while the next generation consoles were on their way. The Sega Saturn, the PlayStation, and the Nintendo 64 were ready to hit the scene. The graphics were getting better and video game companies were racing their technology to a never-ending finish line.
The Nerd: During the ongoing delay of the Nintendo 64, Nintendo announced a new product to fill the time and continue their successful line of portable game systems, beginning with the Game & Watch games and the Game Boy. The product, originally dubbed "VR32" would become known as the Virtual Boy. It made use of 3-D technology, in which each eye would see two separate screens and create the illusion of three-dimensional depth.
The Nerd: Virtual reality seemed like the way of the future. Just the idea feeling like you were in the game was an awesome concept. But instead, it turned out to be the grand mother-load of shit. (Music stops)
The Nerd: (The Nerd shakes his head) The first problem was it was marketed as a portable system. Yeah, portable. My ass is portable! You could barely find a comfortable way to play this big, red, ugly piece of shit at home, let alone bring it somewhere. Like, you couldn't play it in a car or something like that. And, come to think of it, you wouldn't want to play this thing in public anyway. You'd look like an asshole!
(The Nerd tries, and fails, to find a way of playing it without straining, going as far as to strap it to his head with duct tape)
The Nerd: Why isn't there a head strap? Let's think about this. This must be one of the worst designs for any invention in history. It's basically a pair of goggles on a stand. To me, that translates to a pair of eyeballs on legs. The controller's really weird, too. It has two D-pads and the battery pack is attached to it. You can swap it with an AC adapter, but when you're playing on a table, it can come loose and shut off your game.
The Nerd: The 3D effects are hard to focus and they strain your eyes. There was even a warning on the box that said it could cause headaches and seizures. That's great, right? That's like the cherry on a shit sundae. How would you like to play bad games and have a headache, too? But, before I say the games are bad, let's take an honest look. Unfortunately, the only way I can record these games is to zoom into the eyepiece, so, please excuse the guerilla-style videography.
The Nerd: Let's begin with Mario's Tennis. This was one of the first Virtual Boy games to be released and it's usually the first one that people played. It starts out with Mario hitting a tennis ball right into your face. The 3D effect is actually pretty effective. But without experiencing the actual game, you can't see it.
The Nerd: Now, the main thing that disappointed everybody right from the beginning was the fact that the games were all in red and black. Now, the original Game Boy was in black and white, or black and greenish-yellow, whatever. But the Virtual Boy was supposed to be cutting-edge. So, it was fair to expect it to be in color. What a letdown.
The Nerd: Now, as for the game itself, it's just tennis but with a selection of Mario characters. Not bad, but nothing special. The big problem for me, personally, what the Hell kind of virtual reality is this? I don't feel like I'm on the court interacting. I would have expected this to be in a first-person perspective.
The Nerd: The whole idea of virtual reality is to simulate the experience of the game like you're actually in the environment. It's supposed to feel like reality, hence the term, virtual reality.
The Nerd: Here's another one; Galactic Pinball. Well, it's just a pinball game with a space theme. The 3D effects are pretty shallow on this one. Nothing ever really comes up in your face. To use the paddles, you hit the buttons on the bottom of the controller, which feels like using a real pinball machine, but you expect to be able hit the button harder to hit the ball harder.
The Nerd: So, in the long run, it just makes you wish you were playing a real pinball machine instead or anything other than this. I feel like I'm taking an eye exam. And speaking of that, my eyes are starting to hurt already. If you play this long enough and go blind, you can really become the pinball wizard.
The Nerd: Okay, now we have Teleroboxer. Kinda like Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots. And, holy shit. It's a first-person perspective. This is a little more like virtual reality.
The Nerd: The gameplay is pretty much the same as Punch-Out!! You can punch to the face, punch to the body, hook, upper cut, duck, dodge, and you can make use of both D-pads, which individually control each arm, so you could block with one arm and punch with the other at the same time. It's not bad and the 3D effects are cool, especially when your opponent knocks you out. (Gets knocked out and shows the game static)
The Nerd: Next up, Red Alarm. Well, Red is right. All the games should have had Red in the title. It's basically a flying game, like Star Fox. Remember what the graphics looked like on Star Fox? Everything was a polygon. But, imagine that in red and black, without any rendered shapes whatsoever.
The Nerd: Everything's just a wire frame. It looks like a game that hasn't been finished. Worst of all, it's disorienting. If only there were some kind of texture, you'd be able to see where the boundaries are, but without it, you're just flying around with a bunch of lines! Often, I think I'm flying into an opening, But then I just find it butting against a wall! Look at this! Where am I supposed to go?
The Nerd: One thing that's cool is that you can switch camera angles. I choose the P.O.V. because, after all, isn't this supposed to be virtual reality? Unfortunately, Red Alarm and Teleroboxer are the only two Virtual Boy games to have this feature.
The Nerd: Next up is Wario Land. You take control of Wario with one basic goal: reach the end of each level. Along the way, you gotta find keys to open doors, collect treasures, and fight enemies. You stomp on them, throw them, or dash into 'em.
The Nerd: There's also parts where you can leap into the background, obviously trying to cater to the 3D gimmick. But it's actually a good game. Damn good. But, only one problem: it's on Virtual Boy.
The Nerd: Next, we have Panic Bomber. It's a puzzle game and a decent one, I might add. Basically, things fall down and you gotta match three of a kind in a row, in a column, or diagonal. The matched pieces disappear and you get bombs. When a lit bomb falls, you can use it to blow up the other bombs.
The Nerd: Now, I have one question. Why in the holy mother of fuck does this need to be on Virtual Boy? It's a puzzle game. This is the kind of thing that belongs on Game Boy. Not only is there nothing remotely 3D or virtual reality-based, you could only play it alone. Aren't puzzle games most fun when you have friends to play with?
The Nerd: Well, Virtual Boy actually had an extension port for a multiplayer cable. It would have been used to link two Virtual Boys, much like the Game Boy did. But the only problem: They never released the cable or made any games that supported it, because the Virtual Boy sucked so hard, it was retired before such a thing could be released.
The Nerd: Next, we're up to Mario Clash. Every Nintendo console had its own definitive Mario title. And this, you would hope, would be decent. But what you get is basically a remake of the original 1983 Mario Bros. arcade. Each level is just one screen and the goal is to knock out all the enemies, except for the Koopas, you stomp on them and use their shells to throw at the other enemies.
The Nerd: Some of the enemies, like the ones with the three spikes on their back, have to be killed from a distance. So, it's basically Mario Bros. with a background and foreground.
The Nerd: What bothers me about this game is just one simple problem: They swapped the buttons. B is jump, and A throws shells. How did they fuck up the controls for a Mario game? Why change what we grew up with? Why change what's been firmly planted in our brains since childhood?
The Nerd: There's also a bonus stage, and look what we have here: Texture. It's nice to see a floor that's fully rendered for once. Overall, Mario Clash isn't bad, but it's repetitive. And it goes on for 99 levels, probably making it the longest Virtual Boy game. And since it causes eye strain, it shouldn't be finished in one sitting.
The Nerd: Next: Nester's Funky Bowling. Any subscriber to Nintendo Power knows who Nester is, and this is probably the only game he's ever been in. All I can say is, it's bowling. That's what it is. But I don't know what's so "funky" about it. It's just an average bowling game with the same ten pins over and over. The animation on Nester's reactions is pretty fun to watch, but other than that, there's not much to say.
The Nerd: Okay, next is Virtual League Baseball. You bat, you run, you pitch, you catch, you run, you throw, it's baseball. The music is pretty cool, and you get a nice 3D effect when it shows the field, kind of like you're sitting in the seats, almost like a, (clears throat) virtual reality field.
The Nerd: When it comes to batting, the hit detection is kind of awkward and when you're in the outfield, it's like you need a microscope to see the players. It's such a strange sensation to be controlling sprites the size of ants, kinda like North & South on NES.
The Nerd: Now, let's do Vertical Force. This one is a 2D shooter, kinda like Galaga, 1942, or R-Type. It's a genre that's classic. As classic as a good old TV screen. The only 3D part is that you can switch between two different altitudes, so it's kinda like 2D/3D.
The Nerd: Sometimes, you gotta fly up or down to avoid obstacles. But most of the time, you can just stay where you are. The 3D effect isn't even that deep anyway. This is another perfect example of a game that doesn't need to be on Virtual Boy.
The Nerd: Next is Golf. That's it, just golf. Of all the games with this title, I'd stick to Golf on NES. You pick your club, you line up your shots, and that's about it. Just the idea of playing an 18-hole course on this makes me sick.
The Nerd: The graphics are decent, but they begged to be in green-and-black rather than red-and-black. Well, it would be nice if it was in color, but let me tell you if there's one color that I imagine when it comes to golf, it's fucking anything but red.
The Nerd: Next, we have 3D Tetris. Now, anyone who's familiar with Tetris will immediately understand the concept. Blocks fall down and you have to put them together without leaving gaps. Anytime you fill a whole row, they disappear. And the only difference is that it's in 3D, but that means it moves along a lot slower because there's a lot more space to fill.
The Nerd: The A and B buttons turn the blocks around in the second dimension, while the right D-pad flips them in the third dimension. The left D-pad moves the pieces around to where you want to drop them, and it works quite well.
The Nerd: 3D Tetris and Teleroboxer are the only two Virtual Boy games that use both D-pads to do something different.
The Nerd: Until the blocks drop down, they're transparent and they have little shadows to help you tell where they're going to land. Also, the layout keeps moving, so they basically tried everything they could so that you won't get confused, but still, it's a little hard to tell what you're doing.
The Nerd: The 3D aspect isn't even very unique. They could have made a game like this on just about any other console at the time. While the Virtual Boy does place parts of the graphics in front of other parts, the blocks here are just two-dimensional shapes drawn to give the feeling of the third dimension without actually doing so.
The Nerd: It's like if I just draw on a piece of paper. (Draws a transparent cube on a piece of paper) There, that's 3D. I'd say just stick to regular Tetris.
The Nerd: Well now, we saved the worst for last: It's WaterWorld.
The Nerd: Now, let's just stop for a moment and take this in, okay? (Breathes deeply) WaterWorld... on Virtual Boy. IT'S LIKE PUKING ON A PILE OF SHIT!
(in the "Toxic Crusaders" episode, Lloyd Kaufman took a shit on the NES cartridge, and the Nerd puked on the pile of shit)
The Nerd: Alright. Here we go. Ocean presents WaterWorld. How ironic. Well, as far as the graphics go, too bad they couldn't use the color blue. I mean, they had two choices for the water. It could have been red or black. Well, at least they chose black, because if it was red, we would be calling it BloodWorld. Either way, it looks like shit.
Deacon: It does look like shit.
The Nerd: The object of the game is just to shoot everybody and rescue the people. It's basically a remake of Defender. There's not really any goal, other than getting a high score, which really helps since it doesn't save any data.
The Nerd: There's actually a 9-player mode, which I honestly find hard to believe. Could you imagine passing the Virtual Boy around the room to 8 other people? I'd rather drink Kevin Costner's recycled piss water.
The Nerd: WaterWorld is the only movie-based game on Virtual Boy, and doesn't that seem like a match made in heaven? It's a perfect analogy. An over-budget, over-hyped movie turned into a game on a gimmicky, over-priced anal atom bomb of a console exploding with diarrhea!
The Nerd: Well, that's it. The Virtual Boy was such a flop, it died in less than a year. Yeah, and I didn't pick these games, this is all of them.
The Nerd: I just reviewed every Virtual Boy game to be released in North America. That's right. I am holding the entire library of games for this piece of shit in my one hand. With the exception of Jack Bros., which is rare, expensive, and probably not worth jack shit.
The Nerd: (YouTube Re-Release) It's time for an update, because now, I have Jack Bros. Thank you very much. It's like I talk about shit, and somebody sends me shit. So, let's give it a look and make this whole episode complete.
The Nerd: Jack Bros., here we go. It's in Japanese, and since this game's story-based, I'm not gonna be able to read any of the text. But the story doesn't concern us, we wanna know how it plays. You get a choice of three characters who look like Halloween mascots. Jack Frost, Jack Lantern, and a skeleton named Jack the Ripper.
The Nerd: He's the coolest character, but his attack is just a sword, while the rest of the characters can shoot projectiles. That's real deceiving. It's almost like they planned it that way. Obviously, you're gonna pick the fucking skeleton, but they give him the shittiest weapon.
The Nerd: So, it plays like a typical overhead view, where you have to fight monsters, collect keys, and find an exit before time runs out. Instantly, it reminds me of Gauntlet. And that's not a bad thing. For such a rare game, it's not half-bad. But it doesn't utilize the Virtual Boy in any unique way.
The Nerd: It goes 3D a little when you drop to a lower platform, but overall it just comes down to the same thing. This should've been on Game Boy. This has nothing to do with Virtual Reality. I don't feel like I'm there. They didn't even try to make it virtual: Instead, they were just jackin' off.
The Nerd: And that takes care of the whole Virtual Boy catalogue.
The Nerd: Now, to be fair, most of the games were okay, but they're the same kind of games you might as well be playing on a regular TV screen. I mean, they tried to take advantage of some 3D elements, but this wasn't called 3D Boy, it was called Virtual Boy.
The Nerd: Now, they didn't even attempt, they didn't even attempt a virtual reality concept. What it needed was some first-person shooter games, like DOOM. That would've been awesome.
The Nerd: Now, it's been about 10 years, the technology's gotten better, but...nobody really gives a shit about virtual reality anymore, and maybe, that's for the best.
(The Nerd blows up Virtual Boy using his middle finger.)