Did the Virtual Boy set VR gaming back?
Palmer Luckey is the mastermind behind what’s become not only the first real virtual reality headset to make it to market, but also one of the most talked about gaming devices in years and years with the Oculus Rift headset. And having had his baby recently go up for pre-order, Luckey is looking back at the first device to boast the ‘VR’ nomenclature.
The Nintendo Virtual Boy was an interesting device. It wasn’t really VR at all, offering more of a 3D effect in its extremely limited selection of gaming software. It wasn’t as though you could strap this thing to your head and look around a ‘real’ feeling world… not that you’d have wanted to anyway as the thing could only display imagery in shades of red.
Still though, for what it was, I actually rather enjoyed it. Despite the headache that could sometimes erupt from playing for too long, the Virtual Boy had a few fun games that I really liked. Although there was no Super Mario or Legend of Zelda title to play, which was super-weird looking back at it, some of what Nintendo had cooked up equated to a solid good time.
I know I’m in the minority on that though, and now I know that Luckey is definitely in the opposing camp. The VR master recently commented that the machine was essentially a setback for the world of VR, saying in a Reddit AMA that he felt it “hurt the industry in the long run”.
Being that the thing was not a VR headset, and yet was labeled as such by Nintendo, I think I have to agree with him in some way. Although I don’t think that gamers and the general public would have given the cold-shoulder to something in the way of a ‘real’ VR headset if it had seen release, I do think that companies might have shied away from the genre since Nintendo’s own entry was such a colossal failure.
Either way though, VR is definitely here now (well, it will be soon anyway) with Oculus, the Gear VR, and HTC and Sony’s own devices. All of them are cool-looking in their own rights, and there’s a massive amount of promise there if the prices aren’t all sky-high.
Till those tags come down though, you could always have a go with Nintendo’s biggest flop. It’s pretty cheap on eBay these days, and heck, I still use mine… occasionally.
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