Vindicating The Virtual Boy

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Treated as a traditional game console or portable,Nintendo’s first 3D console, the Virtual Boy, fell flat with its short shelf life and small library of games As a platform for a handful of interesting titles, however, it was at least a partial succes– and in its time, a handful of titles was all that most players of any system would owns. For some owners, memories of the bulky headset are not ones of eyestrain and headaches but of a first glimpse into a new dimension of gameplay, a dimension that is only now truly coming to life. In fact, the Virtual Boy’s library grant players some tantalizing glimpses of effective 3D use and the potential that may be realized now in Nintendo’s latest attempt to bring 3D to the masses. Several titles and the techniques employed in them would be welsom

Wario Land is considered by most as the greatest title to grace the Virtual Boy, offering a full Nintendo sidescroller with unique twists to take advantage of the hardware.Wario Land used the 3D effect to create foreground and background environments in each level,creating a multi-layered field of gameplay that transformed a traditional platformer into a unique experience in play and in visual quality. Wario could bounce from background to foreground at certain points in each level, much like Mario uses carefully-placed pipes to access secret areas. Even with the system’s simple red and black palette, the effect was borderline magical. The environments and characters reflected a type of visual flair and reality that couldn’t be replicated on any other system, and using its sprites impart a charm and level of artistic style characteristic of older 2D games. Virtual Boy Wario Land was an impressive game worthy of the Nintendo name and would have been excellent on any system, but its careful implementation of the Virtual Boy’s 3D showed that a 2D game could be transformed into a truly revolutionary experience.

My personal favorite title on the Virtual Boy was a vertical arcade shooter called Vertical Force. This title, unlike Wario Land, let you veer from foreground to background at will- though the two are still wholly separate layers of environment. Dodging into and out of the background as you pilot your ship through hordes of enemy ships was both difficult and thrilling. I hope developesr will bring the spirit of this title back in a modern vertical shooter, or even a colorized port of this one, on the 3DS.

Most other titles are less memorable and complex, such as the Metroid-themed Galactic Pinballs. One of the first clearly Mario-branded sports titles was born in Mario’s Tennis, a sprite-based game that, while simple, offered countless hours of play and featured familiar characters including Donkey Kong Jr. There was even a 3D flight game on the Virtual Boy, a wire-frame title called Red Alarm that was quite advanced for the hardware and time.

Many see the Virtual Boy as a colossal failure, but the truth, is more ambiguous. The Virtual Boy was a grand experiment, and a machine ahead of its time. It succeeded as a proof-of-concept for the successor that has only now come to marke, and. it would not surprise me to see elements of Virtual Boy games, like layers of spites and multiple levels of depth in traditional games, be revisited on the 3DS. Looking back upon Nintendo’s past sometimes offers insight into its future plans, and this is definitely the case with the Virtual Boy. Paper Mario will bring 3D to a 2D game, 3D space shooting has resurfaced with the fast-paced Star Fox 64 3D, and Mario Tennis is being revived with an all-new 3DS entry. Gaming has evolved since 1995, and many games on the market today would never have been dreamed in that era, but the Virtual Boy nonetheless shows some ways that 3D will still be experienced in the current generatio– and even some titles that will return.

 

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