While the Nintendo 3DS will perhaps be forever remembered as the Nintendo 3D gaming platform, it wasn’t the company’s first foray into stereoscopic land. That distinction belongs to the Virtual Boy, whose short stint ended in catastrophe. While that torture equipment will remain a blot on Nintendo’s history, the games it supposedly supported may yet find salvation in today’s new age of virtual reality. That is mostly thanks to some heavy lifting done by Redditor The-King-of-Spain, who has kindly left instructions on how to play Virtual Boy games today via Google Cardboard or even a Samsung Gear VR.
The Nintendo Virtual Boy was perhaps a lesson on how NOT to do virtual reality. It was clunky, uncomfortable, and practically pointless. That or it was far too ahead of its time. Back in the 90s when it launched, virtual reality was still the stuff of science fiction. Today, fiction has become reality, which allows us to revisit the past.
Don’t have to high hopes for this Virtual Boy emulation. After all, even then the games weren’t exactly the stuff that would tickle your fancy or imagination. Still, if you want to relive that dark part of gaming history, without the motion sickness and neck strain, this is probably your best bet. You will need an Android smartphone and either a Gear VR or Cardboard headset. Of course, you’ll also need a ROM of a Virtual Boy game, which we’ll leave to the reader to figure out how/where to get. The RetroArch emulator will be the muscle behind the process, but special programs also need to be added to RetroArch to make the stereoscopic display work.
Alternatively, you can just view the sample run of Virtual Boy Wario in all its monochromatic, stereoscopic glory. Of course, you’ll still need a VR headset to fully appreciate it.
Not too exciting, eh? It’s still pretty much a 2D side-scrolling platform with a few gimmicks, like “backstage” areas, that take advantage of the virtual reality effect.
All in all, it’s a nice nod to gaming history, even if it’s a part of history Nintendo might want everyone to forget. It also calls to mind rumors that Nintendo might be eying another venture into VR. With all the technology and tools available to it this time around, it will be utterly amazing if Nintendo would still manage to mess it up.