Known too many in the gaming industry as the red menace the Virtual Boy or VR-32 was released to America during the summer of 1985. The overall goal was to bring a true 3D gaming experience to the Nintendo fanbase one that could be portable and stationary. One of the first problems was the price, retailing at almost $200 at release most gamers took a pass feeling the graphics and design just wasn’t worth the cost. In a little over a year the Virtual Boy was discontinued and Nintendo tried to forget ever attempting the venture.
Many gamers just could not accept the red color and simple graphics of the Virtual Boy. In addition many gamers complained of headaches and eye strain while using the VB. However, there were some fans of the VR-32 that enjoyed some of the 14 games released in the U.S. including Wario Land, Tennis and 3D Tetris, but it just wasn’t enough to save it.
Some felt Nintendo was just overreaching. With the Game Boy being such a megahit many felt Nintendo did not make a real effort to create a new gaming system. It was felt the Virtual Boy offered almost no real advantage over the Game Boy and with the GB costing almost one hundred dollars less most were not willing to shell out more cash.
In the end the Virtual Boy only sold 770,000 units even after slashing its pricing several times. Strangely enough a small reassurance came when toy stores began selling the Virtual Boy for less than fifty dollars, but by then it was more of a collector’s item than a must have system. The VR-32 is still considered a collector’s item today and many sell for upwards of one hundred dollars on eBay.
I personally came across a Virtual Boy in the now closed Kay Bee toys several years ago. The Virtual Boy had been marked with a clearance sticker for the low price of $29.99. By then the Playstation was already out and there were a ton of better handhelds but something inside me wanted to get it so badly. I admit I thought it looked kind of cool and they were selling the games for $1.99 each so I purchased the unit and five games.
What I did not know was that there were straps for the Virtual Boy so you could wear it on your head which when I tried it just seemed strange. Even stranger was a few of my friends who also purchased Virtual Boys said theirs did not have the straps or any place where straps could fit. Either way the unit felt really heavy on the head and it would be dangerous to walk around like that so maybe I got a prototype or the strap version was discontinued.