Virtual Boy
Virtual Boy
  The Virtual Boy is one of Nintendo's strangest products, and Nintendo has released a lot of strange products. This system, however, was just too weird for its time. The public did not like the price of the hardware, and the Virtual Boy, having little gaming potential given its specialized format, was doomed to live the life of a Sharper Image type of product, being owned only by people who are crazy enough to spend their money to be the first man on the block with their own virtual reality game system. Thus, the system died a quick, premature death. Gunpei Yokoi, who designed the NES controller and Game Boy, created the Virtual Boy as his last innovation before being run over and killed by a car.

  The picture really explains the system better than I could with words, but basically, the system is a virtual-reality headset (originally designed to strap around one's head, but this feature was removed and the rubber caps on either side of the system replace where straps would have connected). The screens on either side are a series of bright red LEDs that are projected by oscillating mirrors on each side. Some argue that the lack of color was what killed the Virtual Boy, but I am suspicious since the Game Boy and the Game Boy Pocket succeeded before and after the Virtual Boy, and its black-and-white, ghosting LCD screen left a lot to be desired.

  I began my Virtual Boy collection long after the system's demise, and I have decided that it was a very fun and innovative system, specialized as it may be. There are some games on there that can be found nowhere else. For example, Vertical Force is your typical Galaga style shooter, but it has two areas, foreground and background, where you must switch to shoot the enemies on a certain level. The gameplay works very nicely in a manner similar to the Japanese arcade hit Ikaruga.

  Space Squash is another great game, but few American Virtual Boy gamers would be familiar with it, since it was released only in Japan. While Mario's Tennis, the bundle game, makes little use of the three-dimensional space in the Virtual Boy, Space Squash makes elegant use of perspective to make the game much more fun. Many games for the Virtual Boy follow this principle. Of course, there are a few games that just do not belong on the Virtual Boy, like V-Tetris and Virtual Lab, both very two-dimensional puzzle games. I am wishfully hoping someone will come forward with more information about the mysterious RPG that was in beta stages when the Virtual Boy was scrapped, entitled Dragon Hopper.

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PC Adapters

  As unbelievable as it sounds, it is apparently possible to use even a Virtual Boy controller on the PC. This is accomplished through a home-built adapter connected to the parallel port according to this site's plans (a few pages down). There is also a simplified manual in TXT format. Needless to say, there is no ready-made solution available. Now, there is one catch for building your own interface. Where do you get the socket to plug into? There is no extension cable for the Virtual Boy, and the connector is in a non-standard shape. The only way to hook up the controller is to either remove the socket from a Virtual Boy or to cut the wire and put a removable plug on either end (if you would like to keep using the controller on your Virtual Boy). I refuse to do this to my Virtual Boy, but I'm looking into finding either an orphaned controller or broken system on eBay

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