In 1995 Nintendo introduced the world to the Virtual Boy. Virtual Boy was created as the three dimensional next evolution in gaming. Nintendo allegedly dropped tens of millions of dollars into the marketing for this system.
Based on these print ads I was not convinced. They even did a promotion with Blockbuster Video to try and convince consumers of it's greatness! You could rent a Virtual Boy for $10 and try the system out for a few days and when you brought it back to the rental store they would give you a coupon for $10 off the purchase of your very own Virtual Boy.
This may have been a marketing misstep as people could rent the system and see how underwhelming it actually was especially for the initial selling point of $179.95! I understand that Nintendo was trying something new as they usually do, to distance themselves from the competition.
The marketing avalanche continued to spill over to the pages of Nintendo Power. I was a long time subscriber of this official Nintendo Magazine and lived by it's previews, reviews, tips, tricks and cheat codes. We were a loyal Nintendo family and always looked forward to the company's new releases and this was the way to get the inside info on these products.
I must say that the games did look impressive in the pages of the magazine. I know it's hard to try to visualize three dimensional games from a few pictures in a magazine, but the graphics looked nice and the promise of some new Mario games was a bonus. The one thing I just couldn't shake was the lack of color in the games.
Nintendo did their best to try and make the Virtual Boy seem like the next best thing. It was portable and in their words it would "Immerse players into their own private universe", but the part of this article that drew my attention was the talk of the new Ultra 64 system that Nintendo was releasing to compete with the Playstation! To me this was the bigger news and any thoughts of owning or even wanting a Virtual Boy was gone, until...
I took a trip with my Dad to Tennessee in the summer of 1996 and saw stacks of these Virtual Boy boxes at Wal-Mart! Check out Part 2 next week to see how I got my very own Virtual Boy console! Here is a commercial to tide you over until then!