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Remembering the Virtual Boy
An article by Jomingo
13 August '10
Fifteen years ago tomorrow, Nintendo released one the most underrated and under-appreciated consoles in their history. As is company policy, when sales did not meet expectations and the console seemed ill-fated, they discontinued the product and swept it under the rug of gaming history. The console I'm referring to of course, is the Virtual Boy. Some call it Nintendo's worst piece of hardware in their long history; I believe it to be the one with the most unachieved potential.
. . .
Perhaps it was the fact that it was released so close to my birthday, but I really wanted a Virtual Boy. Badly. My parents were never "early adopters", which of course meant that I would never get the Virtual Boy I wanted so much, as Nintendo discontinued it the following May. It's short lifespan did not come without some stellar software, however. Wario Land VB, Mario Clash, Mario Tennis, Galactic Pinball, etc. were all incredibly unique titles that made the Virtual Boy worth it's price point. What intrigues me most, however, are the games that didn't come out on the Virtual Boy. Among intriguing demos such as Starfox, Rare actually had one title planned for the system that never saw the light of day. Back in 1995, while they were finishing up work on Donkey Kong Country 2, Rare had done some preliminary work on porting the sequel to the red and black goggles. That's right, Donkey Kong Country 2 VB. Had the console faired better with critics and consumers, this game might have actually been released.
. . .
Had DKC2VB actually come out, it clearly would've been more than a simple port. The Virtual Boy was a very different console than the SNES. The most noticeable differences to this port would've been the fact that all Virtual Boy games were in Black and Red. DKC2's lush environments would have been rendered in two colors, and the graphical quality would've been stepped down a notch. But, these negatives aside, being able to play the game in 3D would've been an exhilarating experience. Imagine using barrel cannons to shoot into the foreground and background, just like Wario Land VB did before it, and just like Donkey Kong Country Returns is doing now. The effect of 3D would have had a huge impact on the game, and it saddens me that we never got to see the end product.
As you know, the Virtual Boy failed, but Nintendo clearly never gave up on their ambitions to bring a unique 3D experience, as evidenced by the impending release of the 3DS. The successor to the Nintendo DS is poised to be their most successful launch in history, but when you're playing yours in early 2011, don't forget the brilliant ideas and work that men like Gunpei Yokoi put into the Virtual Boy. My greatest hope is that Retro Studios will give us a new portable installment to compliment Donkey Kong Country Returns, so we can finally experience Donkey Kong Country in 3D as was supposed to happen so many years ago.
- by Jomingo -
This article was written by a DKC Atlas Forum staff member. All opinions expressed within this article are those of the writer, and are not necessarily shared by DKC Atlas, or the DKC gaming community.