Nintendo’s failed attempt at virtual reality has returned to shops in the Middle East in its original packaging, letting a new can experience its migraine-inducing Mario Tennis gameplay.
To gamers in modernized nations, The Virtual Boy is an obscure rune in the history of failed gaming technologies. For local shoppers in Dubai, its this year’s Tickle Me Elmo.
Local retail outlets in the United Arab Emirates stumbled upon one hundred decade-old Virtual Boys, the short-lived virtual reality headset system sold by Nintendo in 1995. Still in their original packaging, the game consoles were put on sale despite their age and history of causing headaches among users.
“This product was just left years ago and nobody knew it was in stock,” said Vijay Chandrabota, the purchasing manager for Geekay Games in Dubai. “For me, it was dead stock. I didn’t even know that this Virtual Boy existed until we found it.”
Geekay Games operations manager Layakath Ali was lucky enough to stumble upon the lost shipment before they were trashed.
“[The shipment] was under some old cartons,” commented Ali. “There were lots of customers looking for Virtual Boys last year and I told them we didn’t have any. I remembered collectors who wanted to have this one, so I could not say it was dead stock.”
Before putting them up for public sale, Ali tested one himself and says he didn’t suffer from any health problems from wearing the Virtual Boy’s visor. “People said it was affecting eyesight but I’m not sure about that,” he said. “I enjoyed playing Mario Tennis daily and I have no headaches. I know actually that they say it is a big failure, but it’s a good system to have.”
Once word of their existence leaked, local game enthusiasts jumped on the opportunity to purchase a piece of gaming lore in mint condition in hopes of reselling it for inflated prices above the couple hundred used Virtual Boys can run for online.
Mr. Omran, an enthuasiast in the area, and his brother bought a number of consoles when they discovered they were on sale nearby.
“I was chasing it in all the shops and all the markets in Dubai Khour, but everything was always vanished,” said Mr Omran, a 38-year-old electrical engineer. “It’s not an easy system to find.”
“I had some local friends who are also Nintendo collectors and they asked me, ‘Can you get me one’?” said 23-year-old Hassan. “But you know if you want to spend more than two hours playing on it, your neck will be sore. It’s really cool, but I don’t want to use it. It was Nintendo’s worst invention.”