So why do a top list of a system that was virtually unplayable when it was new, let alone by today's standards? Because like any system, there are a few interesting titles that are worth a look, even if you have to emulate them owing to the terrible original hardware (an alternative which allows you use more modern/less headache-inducing options for 3D effects). So let's look at my five favorites.
5. Mario Clash (Nintendo, 1995)
4. Jack Bros. (Atlus, 1995)
3. Panic Bomber (Hudson Soft, 1995)
it was) and would have been no worse off for it. Well regardless, Panic Bomber a fun little title. Just a pity they couldn't implement a two-player mode because the Virtual Boy was retired before a link cable was ever released...
2. Teleroboxer (Nintendo, 1995)
1. Virtual Boy Wario Land (Nintendo, 1995)
Just as a little bonus, let's talk about a few games that were announced but ultimately never released.
- Bound High! - An odd little title where you play as a bouncing ball and have to land on enemies to defeat them; hitting them at the right angle would send out sparks that could potentially destroy other enemies and set off a chain reaction, earning you tons of points if you did. Also had a minigame that played a bit like golf crossed with pool. Bound High was ultimately canceled after the platform proved to be a major failure, but a prototype made its way online, making it one of two surviving unreleased VB games.
- Nikochan Battle - A game in the Faceball series (which was originally released as "MIDI Maze" on the Atari ST), and a pretty decent one at that - it takes advantage of the 3D capabilities of the Virtual Boy surprisingly well and plays quite smoothly for the hardware, making it a fun, if simple, arena based first person shooter. It was nearly completed before its cancellation, and a prototype has made its way online so you can try it out and see what could have been.
- Dragon Hopper - This one actually sounded really interesting; basically a top-down action adventure similar in concept to the Legend of Zelda, where you'd have to solve puzzles, earn new abilities to progress and battle bosses, even featuring battery backup. Could have been the Virtual Boy's killer app, especially with Intelligent Systems at the helm, but alas, it never saw the light of day. It's also never made it's way online and may not even exist anymore, so all that we have available are a box scan and a handful of screenshots.
- VB Mario Land aka Mario Adventure - Another one that's lost to time save for a handful of blurry screenshots and a couple of low-quality recordings from CES 1995. But from what we know, it was going to play like a sidescrolling Mario game on the NES or SNES with a few top-down segments, as well as the ability to travel between foreground and background layers (an idea that would be reused in Virtual Boy Wario Land). Apparently it also would have contained either a minigame or bonus stage based upon the Mario Bros. arcade game, which may ultimately have extrapolated into what we now call "Mario Clash".
- Mario Bros. VB - Shown off at some trade shows and then mysteriously never mentioned again, but judging from available footage and screenshots, it was a relatively faithful remake of the Mario Bros. arcade game. It's been theorized (though never confirmed) that Nintendo expanded on the idea and eventually made what we now know as Mario Clash. It could also be linked to VB Mario Land, as mentioned above.
And for those curious, a list of all the Virtual Boy's games by initial release date. Blue indicates a Japan-exclusive title, while Red indicates a North America exclusive.
- Galactic Pinball - Jul 21 1995 (JP), Aug 14 95 (NA) - Launch Title
- Mario's Tennis - Jul 21 1995 (JP), Aug 14 95 (NA) - Launch Title, pack-in game in NA later on
- Red Alarm - Jul 21 1995 (JP) / Aug 14 95 (NA) - Launch Title
- Teleroboxer - Jul 21 1995 (JP) / Aug 14 95 (NA) - Launch Title
- Panic Bomber - Jul 21 1995 (JP), Dec 1 95 (NA) - Launch Title in Japan
- Virtual League Baseball - Aug 11 95 (JP) / Sep 11 95 (US)
- Vertical Force - Aug 12 95 (JP), Dec 1 95 (US)
- V-Tetris - Aug 25 95 (JP)
- Space Squash - Sep 28 95 (JP)
- Mario Clash - Sep 28 95 (JP) / Oct 1 95 (US)
- Jack Bros - Sep 29 95 (JP) / Oct 20 95 (US)
- Virtual Fishing - Oct 6 95 (JP)
- Innsmouth no Yataka - Oct 13 95 (JP)
- Golf - Nov 8 1995 (JP) / Nov 1 95 (US)
- Virtual Boy Wario Land - Dec 1 95 (JP) / Nov 27 95 (US)
- Space Invaders Virtual Collection - Dec 1 95 (JP)
- Virtual Lab - Dec 8 95 (JP)
- Waterworld - Dec 21 95 (US)
- SD Gundam Dimension War - Dec 22 95 (JP)
- Virtual Bowling - Dec 22 95 (JP)
- Nester's Funky Bowling - Feb 26 96 (US)
- 3D Tetris - Mar 22 96 (US)