Nintendo Virtual Boy – failure or pioneer?

Nintendo Virtual Boy was one of the many ‘out of the box’ ideas brought out for the public by Nintendo. Virtual Boy, otherwise known as Bacharu Boi in Japan, was capable of displaying 3D graphics. The console makes use of the illusion of depth which is called parallax. It was similar to many of the consoles made for virtual reality games during the 90s. It had head gear which you look into to see monochromatic images.

nintendo virtual boy

At the time Nintendo Virtual Boy was released it was priced at $180 in North America. During that year it wasn’t received warmly by the gaming market. Mainly because of the failure to please the PAL market. In 1996 Nintendo discontinued the software.

The introduction of Nintendo Virtual Boy.

In 1994 the Virtual Boy was announced to shake the gaming world. The concepts of the mainstream when it came to Virtual Reality were changing. So it showed enormous potential. According to their press release that year Nintendo aimed to create a universe for players to actually dive into.

When Nintendo Virtual Boy was released, the company claimed to have used $25 million for its promotional activities. They targeted 2.5 million sales by the end of 1995. Other than selling it to the US market, Nintendo coordinated with NBC and gave coupons for every $10 rental of their units.

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and the eventual failure……

So what lead to the let down of the Nintendo Virtual Boy console? Well it may be that Nintendo was attempting too much. They were developing the Nintendo 64 while the Virtual Boy was under its research phase. It has been suggested that they released the Virtual Boy too soon so they could concentrate their efforts elsewhere.

Another problem came when Nintendo tried to make Virtual Boy affordable. During the testing phase it was decided to make a cut in the materials. This proved to be a huge mistake for Nintendo. By it’s release date it was too poor in quality for the home console market. And too expensive for the hand held market.

It is also claimed that offering the console for rental was a bad move. It allowed potential buyers to see just how poor the Nintendo Virtual Boy was.

The product was discontinued in early 1996.


Nintendo is known for creating different types of consoles that have revolutionized the way we see gaming today. Nintendo was the pioneer of creating characters like Mario. During the 1980s Nintendo became the leading brand in gaming. By the 90’s Sega and Sony also emerged as industry leaders. Since then Nintendo have struggled with their success.

More advanced graphics are present in today’s gaming consoles. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo all intend to out do each other by enhancing the graphics of their consoles. Just look at the complexity and capabilities of consoles today such as Xbox One and Sony PS4. The Virtual Boy though will always stand as a testament to the brave move by the Japanese console company to create a VR environment for gamers to enjoy. During that time it wasn’t just feasible. Technology just hadn’t evolved enough at the time. In gaming Virtual Reality is far from being a FAD. Companies today gear towards the development of consoles that would allow gamers almost to mimic reality. From the movement of the characters to the overall gaming experience.