Nintendo is no stranger to experimental and revolutionary concepts when it comes to making consoles. One of the earliest examples of this can be dated back to the Virtual Boy. This was a console that did not need a TV as it came with a binoculars-like peripheral that the user would put their face up to see the virtual experience within.
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This technology of the Virtual Boy is nothing like the VR headsets we have today, but it was still capable of rendering “stereoscopic 3D visuals” — making it a form of virtual reality.
The Best Tetris Experience On The Virtual Boy
- Incentivizes clearing multiple rows at once.
- Various music tracks to change between.
Tetris has appeared in almost every home console due to it being a timeless classic in the world of puzzle gaming. The game will drop various patterns of blocks into a gaming field. Players will then be able to move the currently falling pattern so that it lands where they designate.
Players will need to line up a complete row of these blocks to remove that row from the game field, causing all remaining blocks to drop by 1 row. If players are able to remove multiple rows at the same time, they get bonus points. Players are also able to change the music that the game uses if they find their current selection to be getting old.
- August 25, 1995
- Blue Planet Software, Nintendo Research and Development 3
9 Nester’s Funky Bowling
Funky Visuals & Music While You Bowl
- The game offers a practice mode, as well as some challenges outside the default game mode.
- Players need to have the right position and power meter amount to get the perfect strike.
Nintendo is no stranger to offering a very wide array of sports games, and bowling games have always been right up their alley. Nester might not be as well known as Mario, but he is still a beloved icon from Nintendo that is deeply woven into their early days.
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He would frequently appear in the Nintendo Power Magazine and make cameos in numerous other Nintendo licensed media. This game lets players go on a bowling journey with enough mechanics to make things fun and not overly complicated.
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- February 26, 1996
- Saffire, Nintendo Research and Development 3
8 Panic Bomber
Match Three Style Game With AI Opponents
- Features an endless mode for those who don’t want matches to end.
- Features mighty boss opponents to test your skills against.
This game features the iconic character known as Bomberman with a very Tetris-style puzzle gaming experience. Like with Tetris, various blocks will fall from above. However, this time around the game will follow a very different set of rules using the “match 3” format. This means you no longer need to fill an entire row, and instead need to have 3 of the same kind of block touching one another.
This will cause those blocks to be removed and, in some cases, trigger a special effect. You will also be dealing with an opponent this time around, and in order for you to win, they must lose. You can light the fuses of your bomb blocks to blow up various blocks and send them over to your opponent to help with this — but your opponent can do the same to you.
Bomberman: Panic Bomber
- December 22, 1994
- Hudson Soft, Eighting, Konami, ASCII Corporation, Konami Digital Entertainment
7 Mario’s Tennis
Classic Mario Tennis With Stereoscopic Visuals
- Different shots have different sound effects.
- Features both singles and doubles matches.
During the time of the Virtual Boy, this was an amazing way to enjoy games that followed the Mario Tennis formula. This game lets you play as a range of different characters from the Super Mario IP, such as Mario and Donkey Kong Jr. Players would move them side to side to intercept the approaching ball and to hit it towards the most advantageous part of their opponent’s court.
This was long before many of the modern-day elements of the Mario Tennis games existed, so there are no special power shots or cinematic moments as with newer Mario Tennis games. Despite this, the game still accomplishes a very balanced use of movement and a well-positioned camera that lets you be fully aware of everything you need in order to snatch victory from your opponents.
- July 21, 1995
- Nintendo , Nintendo R&D1 , Nintendo R&D3
6 Mario Clash
Mario Bros. With A Twist
- Great for fans of the original Mario Bros. games.
- Gives a sense of accomplishment when you clear a stage.
When you hear “Mario Clash” it is understandable to imagine something along the lines of either the Super Mario Bros. games or some form of simple mini-game with the Mario IP slapped on top of it. However, this game is actually very simple to the original Mario Bros. games. It features iconic pipes that you can make use of to move to other parts of the stage, Koopa enemies that you need to defeat before you can progress to the next level, and everything takes place from one single screen.
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There are also many differences compared to the original Mario Bros. games. You will not be able to just take out koopas by jumping into the platform they are standing on, nor is there a POW block. Instead, you will need to pick up and throw shells at them. Once all the enemies are defeated, you will progress onward to the next stage.
- September 28, 1995
- Nintendo R&D1 , Nintendo R&D3
5 Vertical Force
A Shoot ‘Em Up With A Sense Of Depth To It
- Features checkpoints by defeating the Mid-boss of each level.
- Plenty of power-ups to get excited over.
One of the most classic styles of games from the golden age of gaming is commanding some form of flying craft, be it through the skies or in outer space, and shooting down all manner of enemies before taking on a boss at the end of the level. Vertical Force is exactly what that sounds like. For those who have played plenty of games like this, then Vertical Force might not offer anything new, but this kind of game is one of the most enjoyable options that the Virtual Boy has to offer.
The game features a decent number of power-ups to keep levels feeling interesting and varied, as you make your way though the different behaving waves of enemies. The bosses are challenging, yet fair, and the Virtual Boy’s Sterioscopic sense of depth really adds to the experience of commanding your craft.
4 Red Alarm
Perfect For Fans Of Old School Battlezone Games
- Unique visual experience for a shoot ’em up.
- Getting power-ups hypes up the player for the next wave of enemies.
While Verticle Force may boast a better sense of graphics, there is something truly special when it comes to Red Alarm. Another Shoot ’em up style game, this game capitalized on the aesthetics perceived with Virtual Reality during the era. A lot of media portrayed virtual reality as these wireframe cities of basic colored lines, as seen in the original Battlezone games. This makes it stand out from all other similar games boasting different kinds of visuals.
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You will have many different types of enemies to deal with, both on land and in the air. You will need to descend lower to clear the path of ground troops so that there are fewer potential projectiles to worry about dodging when you ascend. There are also many upgrades to enjoy and even different levels of speed. Speed boosts in this style of game are not something most would expect, making it a rather unique element.
- July 21, 1995
- T&E Soft
3 Space Squash
Outer Space Mario Tennis
- The closer the ball is, the louder the hit sound effect.
- Well-balanced difficulty keeps the game fun instead of infuriating.
If you ever wanted to play a game like Mario Tennis that was not Mario Tennis, Space Squash is that game. Your opponent will be hitting a ball towards you, and you will need to position yourself in the balls way to knock it right back.
However, there is a moving metal beam between the two of you that you will need to be aware of and work around during this time. You will also be moving higher and lower instead of running around on a court. While the use of the D-pad remains the same, the atmosphere and mindset make this a whole different experience altogether.
- September 29, 1995
- Coconuts Japan, Tomcat System
2 Jack Bros.
Clear Floors Of Enemies To Reach The End
- The presence of a timer makes clearing floors more tense.
- Each playable character brings something unique to the table.
A lot of people might not expect a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise on the Virtual Boy — and no, it’s not a Persona game. This game lets you make use of 3 “jacks” known from the franchise. These include Jack Frost, Jack Lantern, and Jack Skelton. Each of these characters has their respective benefits.
Jack Frost deals more damage than the other Jacks, Jack Lantern can attack much faster than the other two, and Jack Skelton has a more melee focus due to him wielding a knife weapon. Once you start a run, you will not be able to change your character until it is over. Players will make their way down various floors, clearing out enemies along the way to the end of the game.
- September 29, 1995
1 Virtual Boy Wario Land
A Much More Destructive Super Mario Style Game
- An ever-increasing difficulty makes players feel a sense of progressive skill.
- Plenty of locations and enemies to engage with, with newer ones along the way.
While the virtual boy only features a small handful of games, one of the best among them is easily Wario Land. Wario is more than just a villainous version of Mario, he has come such a long way and developed his iconic line of games and personality.
This game took full advantage of the Virtual Boy’s 3D visuals by having players able to interact and break through into the background of those effects. It is mechanics like that that can make an exclusive game so much more enjoyable as it is an experience that cross-platform games will often lack entirely.
Virtual Boy Wario Land
- November 27, 1995
- Nintendo R&D1 , Nintendo R&D3
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