Hands-on: Nintendo’s Virtual Boy II
Today the UPS delivery guy brought the correspondents here at GatorAIDS HQ a wonderful surprise, something we had been waiting to get our hands on for some time now: our orders from Naughty Dinosaur!
Oh, and we also loitered around the local GameStop and got to try out Nintendo’s newest handheld: the Virtual Boy II.
Yes, we finally got to give the much anticipated follow-up to the legendary 1990’s stereoscopic futuregoggles a test drive and we’re just as excited to bring you our award-winning* and hard-hitting coverage of breaking news in the gaming industry! We’ve got a lot to dive into including a breakdown of our experience playing the re-re-release of Street Fighter IV as well as how much fun we had dicking with the depth gauge on the side of the unit. Unfortunately that’s about all we bothered to do before the call of Quiznos beckoned us to do something more productive with our time.
*GatorAIDS has not won any awards unless you count the time we put “GAT” as the high score on the local arcade’s Street Fighter II.
Every legacy begins somewhere and the road to Nintendo’s 3D gaming venture began with the best-selling Virtual Boy released in 1995. The system, which teetered between not being big enough to be a console and not being portable enough to be a handheld, enjoyed notable success as a paperweight that would occasionally give bystanders headaches if they stared directly at it for longer than fifteen seconds. The Virtual Boy was home to many memorable titles such as Teleroboxer and a collection of Magic Eye puzzles that actually didn’t show anything but it is perhaps most well known for its flagship title Waterworld, a video game adaptation of the box office smash movie starring Kevin “Vagina Neck” Costner. The Virtual Boy sold literally dozens of units with the release of the much anticipated adaptation and Usenet groups were abuzz with Waterworld fanfiction and rumor mills.
Nintendo left the 3D market in 1996 citing that the technology was merely too awesome for Japanese developers to understand; in their time off they created the landmark Nintendo 64 console and promptly bowed out of the console wars in the following generation with the Gamecube. Nintendo stepped up their game as a force to be reckoned with and delivered what consumers wanted with the Wii, a console that not only lets you make masturbatory jokes about Bowser but also boasts a huge library of games comprised almost entirely of third party compilation titles. The Wii’s runaway success was matched with their dual screen handheld the Nintendo DS whose variety of Imagine titles and lack of effective copy protection led their handheld to conquer the PlayStation Portable. Their next step in market domination was unveiled at the latest E3 conference but only recently could gamers get a hands-on look at the beastly power that is the Virtual Boy II.
Among the launch titles that we had a chance to sample included Street Fighter IV 3D, a 3D re-release of the Xbox 360 console title that has already featured a re-release “Super” edition setting an unprecedented bar in the gaming industry: a developer releasing the exact same game three times in a 12 month period. What we enjoyed the most about the Virtual Boy II is how much it cuts the fluff and doesn’t feature developer titles that blatantly “fly out of the screen” at you. [Editor’s Redaction: The Virtual Boy II actually does this, our apologies.] While playing Street Fighter IV 3D we were floored with how intense the experience was; it was like Ryu was actually letting loose a hadoken directly into our faces! We had to squint to see it but we’re pretty sure that’s what happened and it blew us away!
The Virtual Boy II isn’t without its flaws however as there have been stark warnings not to let young children use the handheld’s 3D function for fears that it may put too much strain on their developing eyes. Nintendo of America COO Reggie Fils-Aime explained it better by saying to gaming blog Kotaku: “The Virtual Boy II is just so [fucking incredible] that its true effects simply cannot be comprehended by the developing brains of young children. Seeing our memorable Nintendogs in 3D is something they cannot quite wrap their minds around so the strain placed on them may possibly cause their heads to explode.”
This warning, an industry standard, has been something brought up in every instance of 3D entertainment dating back to even the original Virtual Boy. The original 1990’s futuregoggles utilized an oscillating mirror to project what amounted to a Pink Floyd laser light show directly into the eyes of anybody looking into the console’s eyepiece; the technology was cutting-edge at the time but the motorboating mirrors were eventually phased out with a new idea that didn’t require players to put anything on or near their faces to enjoy the 3D effects. While movie theaters hand out pairs of “Avatar Glasses” Nintendo spent millions of dollars figuring out how to achieve this amount of three-dimensional depth without making players wear ridiculous RealD glasses. After months of R&D their solution was to take the lenses out of a pair of RealD glasses and use them as the screen of the Virtual Boy II, a genius move! The first prototype of this model was demonstrated by Fils-Aime at the 2010 E3 conference where he reached into his suit jacket and pulled out what appeared to be an original Nintendo DS with a pair of RealD glasses taped onto the top screen (the ear pieces had been snapped off).
Players can adjust this RealD lens with the use of a sliding switch on the top screen (one of what appears to be forty such sliding switches located on the handheld). There are parental controls rumored to be installed on the handheld for parents of young children where activating the 3D switch will instead traumatize kids by showing footage from a Faces of Death video (Japanese versions of the Virtual Boy II tell children that they are a dishonor to their family and that they will be submitted to the Porygon episode of the Pokemon anime). Nintendo has stated they hope these controls help parents make the right decisions in letting their children experience the thrill of using the Virtual Boy II. With the 3D function disabled the handheld goes into a “lockdown” mode and becomes a handy talking calculator.
Some gamers may remember that the incredible success of the original Virtual Boy ended in tragedy with the untimely passing of Gunpei Yokoi, the creator of the system. Due to his status as an instant celebrity in the gaming world, and after having reclaimed himself from creating the financial disaster that was the Game Boy, he was unfortunately target of a hit carried out by the Yakuza in 1997 during an assassination that was staged to look like a traffic accident. Reggie Fils-Aime stated that the true creator of the new Virtual Boy II will never be known for this very reason, as they anticipate incredible success and don’t want to lose any crucial R&D members, but he has stated that they are going on a campaign of disinformation and crediting the creation of the handheld to Steve Jobs.
When asked about the possibility of cross-platform compatibility Fils-Aime stated that he had in-depth experience with all of Nintendo’s products, “even the Superscope” (which was a handy accessory used for discharging D-cell batteries using your Super Nintendo), but he mentioned the only exception to this rule was the original Virtual Boy for reasons yet unknown by GatorAIDS news correspondents. We had intended to ask Fils-Aime why he had never used the original Virtual Boy but after having not blinked for approximately 17 minutes we decided it would be best to leave him alone and not push the subject further.
In closing we feel that the Virtual Boy II is a force to be reckoned with and we anticipate huge opening sales for the console and a subsequent boom in the market of corrective lenses for children. Nintendo’s surgical stimulation of the American economy could not possibly come at a better time and we here at GatorAIDS simply cannot contain our excitement not only for gamers but for optometrists all over the country who are about to get a much needed boost in their clientele!