Virtual Boy, Nintendo’s Big 3-D Flop, Turns 15
By Chris Kohler
Nintendo 3DS, the upcoming 3-D handheld gaming device, is currently generating a huge amount of positive buzz. But 15 years ago, another bold experiment in stereoscopic 3-D gaming by Nintendo turned out to be the company’s least-successful game system ever.
Nintendo released its ill-fated Virtual Boy in the United States on Aug. 14, 1995. The system, which was housed in a red visor and stood on a collapsible metal stand, was unlike any other game machine consumers had seen.
Nintendo called the Virtual Boy “portable,” meaning it was self-contained and could run on batteries, but unlike other portable games, it couldn’t be played on a car ride because the stand had to rest on a table. Nintendo made much of the fact that the Virtual Boy used a 32-bit processor like the recently released Sony PlayStation, but the graphics weren’t what consumers associated with the phrase “32-bit.” In fact, Virtual Boy’s graphics were created from rows of red LEDs.
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