The Virtual Boy turns 20 years old!

20 years ago, on July 21st 1995, the Virtual Boy became available in stores in Japan. Less than a month later, August 14th, it released in North America as well. We never got to see a release here in Europe but it was advertised and many people were excited to see it, but disappointed that it never came out. Unfortunately the console got discontinued not even half a year later! On December 22nd 1995 the Virtual Boy was discontinued in Japan, and 3 months later on March 2nd 1996 it discontinued in North America.

Virtual Boy Screenshot start

The Virtual Boy only sold a mere 770,000 units, it’s Nintendo’s lowest selling console ever!  The launch price of a Virtual Boy was $180, and it was supposed to be a considered “handheld” system. Compared to the Game Boy which initially cost $89.99 the Virtual Boy wasn’t attractive enough to justify the price tag. The portability was questioned, since it was on a stand and there was no way of equipping it on your head like a “real” VR headset. It only had one color, red on black, it was less powerful than home consoles, and even though it was 3D it wasn’t interesting enough to beat the other handhelds on the market which had more colors. Finally the health issues were on all the parents’ minds, the Virtual Boy even had a built in function to turn itself off after 15-30 minutes of gameplay so that the player could take a break before any injuries occurred to their eyes! That and the warnings that use of the Virtual Boy might cause epileptic attacks, nausea and headaches probably made parents hesitate on buying one for their kids. Still today many people who have tried gaming on a Virtual Boy states that they experience nausea when playing, I thankfully don’t! ;D

Apart from all this, at launch Nintendo partnered up with Blockbuster, having 3000 stores to rent out the Virtual Boy console for $10, once returned they got a $10 coupon for when purchasing their own Virtual Boy. This proved damaging to the system though, since everybody got to see what the system actually was (or was not!) capable of instead of being lured in by the advertisements. The console was rented out to 750,000 people in total during the campaign.


When I started collecting games some 12 years ago I bumped into the Virtual Boy for the first time on eBay, I got super intrigued and had to find out what it was! After getting my first Virtual Boy I became obsessed with the obscurity of the system and started collecting everything I could find related to it! Today I have 3 Virtual Boys (had a 4th which I gave to a friend) and almost all the games released for it. My latest purchase was Space Invaders which was only released in Japan. I am now only missing some obscure Gundam game and Virtual Lab I think.


I prefer the box art on the Japanese games, they’re usually prettier, but the US ones do carry a certain nostalgic charm to them as well :) Here’s all my Virtual Boy games with some screenshots I tried taking with my camera through the lenses on the VB, it was hard to get good focus ;D

Vertical Force is probably my favorite Virtual Boy game :) It’s a shmup with an awesome soundtrack! :D It’s kind of cools since you can switch between two different levels of depth in the stage, but it also makes it much more difficult than a “flat” shmup.

Space Invaders is also pretty cool, there’s both a classic 2D mode and a new 3D mode. It’s not that different from regular space invaders though.

Insmouse no Yakatta (インスマウスの館) is a dungeon crawling horror game, you walk through corridors and encounter creepy monsters. It was only released in Japan.

Jack Bros  (ジャック・ブラザースの迷路でヒーホー!) is also a fun game. You can choose between three different characters, and the game is sort of a top-down platformer where you collect keys and enter new levels and encounter bosses. There’s a time limit on each stage which is kind of annoyingly short..

V-Tetris (V・テトリス) is just like normal Tetris. There’s just some flying spots in the background (maybe it’s supposed to resemble space and stars?) that are sort of 3D. I really like Tetris though, and it’s got good music ^_^

3D Tetris is different though! This is much like Blockout on Sega Mega Drive, but harder, since the platform keeps moving around like a 3D model.

Waterworld is based on a horrible movie with Kevin Costner, the game wasn’t all that bad though.. it’s not good, but it’s not awful. It’s a shooter where you’re some kind of boat shooting at people on jet skis hahaha ^__^

Nester’s Funky Bowling is quite a rare one out of the US releases, it’s a bowling game.. and I’m not that into that :/

Panic Bomber (とびだせ!ぱにボン) was only released in Japan. Just like in V-Tetris it’s not really using the 3D effects much, but Panic Bomber is fun anyway :) Not as good as Tetris though ;D

Space Squash (スペース スカッシュ) is the only game I own that I haven’t played.. because I only have one copy of it, and it’s still sealed >_< I need to find an opened one, but so far this is the only copy I’ve ever encountered.. This game was also only released in Japan.

Galactic Pinball (ギャラクティック・ピンボール) is just what it sounds like, a pinball game. I’ve never quite gotten into those… This was released both in the US and Japan.

Teleroboxer (テレロボクサー) is a first-person boxing game, which was released in both regions. This is one of the few exceptions where I think the US boxart is actually better than the Japanese ;D

Warioland (ワリオランド) is a nice platformer, just like the old school super mario games :) It’s quite challenging as well! Was released in both regions and the box art is really similar…

Red Alarm (レッドアラーム) is a rail shooter which basically just looks like lines that haven’t been finished drawn.. quite annoying, especially with all the explosions and tiny sticks flying around >_< I prefer the Japanese box art on this one, what do you think? :)

Mario Clash (マリオクラッシュ) is what you would have hoped to be the platforming classic Mario game, but it’s not. Instead you’re stuck on one screen where you move through tunnels to the front or back and try to hit enemies that are on the opposite side by throwing other enemies at them.. gets boring after a while..

Golf (or Virtual Golf in Japanese バーチャル ゴルフ) is a golf game. I hate sports games >_< On this one though I also kind of appreciate the US boxart more, but they’re both hideous ;D

Mario’s Tennis (マリオズテニス) was released in both regions, and this is a game that uses the 3D effects well. I still don’t like sports games very much so I rarely play this one. I bet it would have been cool if they would have released a link cable so you could battle a friend on another Virtual Boy though, but that never happened :/

Last and definitely least in my book is Virtual League Baseball (called Pro Yakyuu ’95 バーチャルブロ野球’95 in Japan). I just don’t enjoy sports…

There’s a whole homebrew scene for the system today though, I haven’t gotten into that yet, but I am considering getting myself a Flashboy so I can get to see all the games that were never released and also some of the new games that has been made for the system, since the original library only contains about 22 games or so.


Anyway, I would like to celebrate this old 32-bit system’s birthday by running down to the super market and buying a big package of batteries, plugging in 6 of them in the Virtual Boy controller and then play some Vertical Force, followed by V Tetris and maybe some Space Invaders ^_^

Virtual Boy Screenshot - Game Over

Retro Gaming Guide to Akihabara in Tokyo

I’ve recently come back from a two week vacation in Tokyo, I went there with 5 other friends and we had a blast! ^_^
2014-04-20 18.05.11  2014-04-20 17.27.03-1

While in Tokyo I took the opportunity to go hunting for some retro games of course! I’ve been to Tokyo quite some times now, but I’ve only ever found Super Potato where I could buy retro games. This time however I got a friend from instagram to show me around Akihabara to all the best retro game shops! ^_^
Here’s a map I’ve made of the places I went to:
akihabara map of retro game shops akihabara electric town exit

The two Sega buildings that I pinned on the map are easy to find. After you take the Akihabara Electric Town Exit just go right, out into a square, if you look to your left you will see the first giant SEGA building:
Akihabara - Sega building

Once you get closer to it you will see the second SEGA building as well:
Akihabara - sega buildings


So first off is Super Potato, this place is a bit pricey, but it’s a must-go for all retro gaming enthusiasts! It’s located on the street behind the two SEGA buildings. It’s kind of hard to find the entrance since it’s quite small and you won’t really see the signs for it unless you look up (or can read japanese). It’s down on this street, I’ve located it with a circle, however if you go on the route of the map it will be on your right side instead of left.
Akihabara - Super Potatoe

This is the building:
Akihabara - Super Potatoe building
Akihabara - Super Potatoe Entrance

You will have to go into a corridor and take the elevator up:
Akihabara - Super Potatoe elevator

Super Potato has 4 floors, first floor is mainly cartridge games (famicom, super famicom, sega master system, mega drive, pc engine, game boy etc). Second floor has some newer games like playstaytion, dreamcast etc. The third floor has mainly strategy guides to retro games and the fourth floor has retro arcade machines where you can play puyo puyo, pac-land, final fight, ghosts n’ goblins and a bunch of other old classics ^_^ Everything is very neatly displayed and they also have a bunch of merchandise.
One thing that bugs me about Super Potato is that they have two giant shelves filled from top to bottom with famicom games and most of them are doubles. You will see the same game 10 times in a row sometimes, it makes it hard going through it all.. and time consuming. They have however put end labels on the plastic wrap of each game, but it’s written in japanese.
super potato


Next up is Mandarake Complex, I didn’t spend too much time here, but they had loads of retro games at reasonable prices! And so many boxed games in great condition ^_^ I saw a mint CiB Recca and I really wanted to buy it, but that game is almost just as expensive in Japan as it is on eBay… :( At Mandarake Complex all the games were in hard plastic cases, it made it a bit dull to look through it all, and hard to spot the games you were looking for..

They also had an assortment of Neo Geo games, I really would like to start collecting for that system, but damn those games are pricey! The most expensive one I saw was 220.000 Yen, which is over 2000 USD… o_O


I did however spend more time at another Mandarake store in Nakano (Nakano is just one stop from Shinjuku station with the JR line, or three stops if you don’t take the chuo rapid line). (Note that this store is NOT located in Akihabara and not pinned on the map above..). Mandarake Galaxy is located on the second floor inside Nakano Broadway, a mall that is just straight ahead after exiting the station.
mandarake galaxy

This one wasn’t very big but they made use of their space by only displaying one of each game instead of triples (like in Super Potato). Their games were also really neatly displayed in a way that you could easily browse through them ^^ And it was very reasonably priced! :D This is how happy I was at the Mandarake Galaxy store in Nakano ^_^
2014-04-24 14.01.51
They had a lot of gems and I bought loads of games here, including Gimmick! ^_^ They also had another cabinet inside where they had stuff that wasn’t for sale, just for show >-< Like the Sega Mega Drive Tetris!! 
mandarake galaxy nakano


Next up is Trader in Akihabara, this is located just a bit further down the street from the two SEGA buildings.

Just like in the Mandarake Complex in Akihabara this store had all it’s cartridges and boxed games in plastic cases. This makes it kind of hard to browse through loose Famicom carts.. I bought a few games here though.
trader akihabara

I found a boxed Altered Beast for Game Boy Advance, I regret not getting it since it was so cheap >_<  3500 Yen is approximately 34 USD…
trader - altered beast

They also had a bin filled with loose carts that all cost under 100 Yen! The cheapest I found was 19 Yen, which is less than 20 cents ^_^ There was no guarantee that they would work though. However, all the five games I found in the bin has worked perfectly ^_^
trader bins

You could also get Neo Geo games here and other rarities. However they were not displayed, only by advertisements all over the walls. I guess you would have to go to a counter to order them.
trader neo geo


Now the last shop my friends took me too was so cute! It was run by this old lady and her husband, and it was called FRIENDS ^__^
Friends Game Shop Akihabara        Friends Game Shop entrance
Friends lady

It was very small, but it was crammed with retro games! ^_^ And it was mostly very cheap :) It was really easy to browse through the Famicom carts, and they also had a bunch of bins filled with cheaper carts, around 100 Yen.
Friends game shop famicom
Friends games

Apparently there was also a second floor, I didn’t have time to see it though. I was told they had Sega Saturn games and stuff like that upstairs.

I would recommend all of these shops for retro game collectors that visit Tokyo ^_^

And if you’re not into buying games, there are also loads of places to just play games! :D Here’s my post about the Arcades of Akihabara ^_^

Second batch of games from Japan

So here’s the second batch of games I bought in Japan, a bunch of Famicom Disk games and also some more Famicom games:

Some that I’m really happy with are Star Wars, Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru, Eggerland, Castlevania II, Alien Syndrom and Hatris (which was only 100Yen =about 1.25 USD, in mint condition!!)

This weekend I tried all the games I purchased in Japan out briefly (in total 64 games and one system), and all of them worked, except for one Famicom Disk game (Breeder) which I actually think I broke myself o_O Not really sure what happened there..

Also when I got home I had a package waiting for me, with 4 reproductions I had ordered earlier ^_^

The games are reproductions of Cocoron, Recca and two Castlevania games which are fan-made in 8-bit ^_^ Can’t wait to try them all out!

I’m sorry for the shortness of this post, but I’ve been really busy since I got home, I will try to make a longer post tomorrow ^^

Retro gaming store in Japan

So today I took another trip to the Super Potato store in Akihabara. This time I spent hours just looking through all the retro gaming goodness they had to offer ^_^ And on the way to the store I took the opportunity to drop by a couple of arcades, like this one:

So here’s a couple of things you could find in the Super Potato store:

Famicom games, 4 shelves (only 2 are in the picture) all organized in alphabetical order.

On the opposite side just as many shelves with Famicom games in original boxes, all in really nice condition.

Super Famicom games, also 4 shelves in alphabetical order.

Super Famicom games in boxes, super nice condition.

Game Boy games! They also had shelves filled with boxed ones, and lots of GBC and GBA games too ^^

Lots and lots of Game & Watch!! ^_^

Nintendo 64’s that looked like new, came with controllers and all cables for like 2000 Yen (about 170 SEK, or 25 USD) o_O

On the first floor they also had a bunch of Sega, everything from 8bit to Dreamcast ^^

On the second floor they had all the PS1, PS2, comics, literature such as walkthroughs and guides, all soundtracks to games and lots more ^^

I really wanted to buy this Super Metroid book, but I had already picked up sooo many games that I had to stop myself somewhere :/

And of course they had all the machines where you can get little game related thingys like straps and keychains, I got some Mario stuff there ^^

On the third floor they had an arcade, and no regular arcade, they only had old games, 8bit and 16bit, like Pacman, Pac-Land, Donkey Kong, Final Fight, Splatterhouse, Ghost n Goblins, Street Fighter, Metal Slug, Space Shooters and lots lots more. I stayed there for a while and tried out most of the games, a japanese guy wanted to play Final Fight with me and we got quite far. It was a lot harder than on the console version O_o They also had this really cool chair made out of Famicom cartridges glued together! I sure hope those games weren’t in working order, otherwise it would be a waste :(

Also Pac-Land was a lot different from the Famicom version which I have previously reviewed here and re-visited here.

Here’s some pictures of the different arcade machines, especially Pac-Land ^^

Ghosts n’ Goblins

XX Mission

Final Fight

Final Fight Game Over :(


OMG Japan!!

Retro gaming store in Tokyo Japan. Three floors just filled with retro heaven! This one was only Famicom ^_^

So many things, I just wanted it all!

And the prices were reasonable!

Akihabara, also known as the ‘Electric Town’ in Tokyo. This is where you will find some of the Retro Gaming stores I’ve been visiting today :)

Here’s some of the things I’ve picked up today. A Twin famicom! A bunch of Famicom games, some Super Famicom and a Sega Mega Drive game (just to see if it works on my PAL system).