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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 asBacharu 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.

The Virtual Boy (バーチャルボーイ Bācharu Bōi) (Originally known as VR-32) is a 32-bit table-top 3Dvideo game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It was marketed as the first "portable" video game console capable of displaying "true 3D graphics" out of the box.

It was released on July 21, 1995 in Japan and August 14, 1995 in North America at a price of aroundUS$180. It proved to be a commercial failure and was not released in other regions. Its lukewarm reception was unaffected by continued price drops. Nintendo discontinued it the following year on March 2, 1996.

While Nintendo had promised a virtual reality experience, the monochrome display limited the Virtual Boy's potential for immersion. Reviewers often considered the 3-dimensional features a gimmick, added to games that were essentially 2- or even 1-dimensional. The Washington Post felt that, even when a game gives the impression of 3-dimensionality, it suffers from "hollow vector graphics." Yokoi, the system's inventor, noted the system's relative strengths with action and puzzle games, although those types of games provided only minimal immersion. Multiple criticslamented the absence of head-tracking in the Virtual Boy hardware. Critics found that, as a result, players were unable to immerse themselves in the game worlds of Virtual Boy games. Instead, they interacted with the fictional worlds in the manner of any traditional 2-dimensional game (that is, via a controller). Boyer said the console "struggles to merge the two distinct media forms of home consoles and virtual reality devices." While the device employed virtual reality techniques, it did so via the traditional home console. No feedback from the body was incorporated into gameplay.

Many reviewers complained of painful and frustrating physiological symptoms when playing the Virtual Boy. Bill Frischling, writing for The Washington Post, experienced "dizziness, nausea and headaches." Reviewers attributed the problems to both the monochromatic display and uncomfortable ergonomics. Nintendo, in the years after Virtual Boy's demise, has been frank about its failure. Howard Lincoln, chairman of Nintendo of America, said flatly that the Virtual Boy "just failed."

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