Friday, 27 March 2009

Virtual Boy - *Complete Collection*

The Virtual Boy: like some obsolete cyberpunk augmentation, was swiftly derided and cast aside in the ever raging console wars of the 1990's. Designed by the legendary Gunpei Yokoi (the man behind Game & Watch, Game Boy etc) this red menace was introduced in 1995 across Japan and the United States: in both countries its sales were largely disapointing. The lack of interest (and often outright hostility towards the console) forced Yokoi to resign from Nintendo after 30 years of sterling service.

Once your face was snuggly sunk into its rear flange (slightly purple...but this was how it worked!) and the power turned on you entered, what I consider, a strangely bewitching world: with its red and black parallax throb invoking some silicon dreamscape, the environment a powerful graphic calculator, in its interminable ennui, might conceive when left idle too long. This machine dream quickly evaporates when forced to face the reality of a Bowser power serve on Mario Tennis or god forbid a ten pin strike on Nestor's Funky Bowling!

Emulators: The first of the perishingly few VB emulators was Reality Boy: this pioneering piece of software is still the most compatible (about 90%) and consistently developed. Standing on the shoulders of Reality Boy is Red Dragon, offering similar compatability and a rather friendlier GUI, unless you are having compatibility issues I would make this your first choice. For Mac there is only one option (rather good actually): ViBE. If you are looking for a rather less virtual experience then get yourself a simple pair of red / green 3D specs (or make some yourself!) and sit back in your easy chair and enjoy these games as nature intended. For a more complete list of emulator possibilities (including PSP & Xbox) explore this page at Planet Virtual Boy.

ROMs: GoodSet. A complete collection of all Virtual Boy games (U.S & Japan) and copious PD software. Although please note there are 4 ultra rare games that have, to my knowledge, not been made available as ROMs: SD Gundam, Space Invaders, Virtual Bowling and the mystical Virtual Lab.

Links: Planet Virtual Boy (superb fansite)
Gamefaqs (Virtual Boy hub)
Wikipedia Article
Games List (including prototypes)
Specs and FAQ

How churlish to malign the poor old Virtual Boy, he may ravage your corneas and need more recharging than an addict but he dared to be different and we, the mobbish boors, projected our dated attitudes: in an affront, to make him seem dated! Let me drift off now, into an oscillating monochromatic fantasia: until I get a headache.

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