The Nintendo Virtual Boy was ahead of its time, sort of. It was a VR system by Nintendo that essentially flopped badly. Some titles from the old 3D console were actually pretty good and now you can enjoy them on your Google Cardboard setup thanks to a modified unofficial Virtual Boy emulator. Reddit user The-King-of-Spain has managed to get a selection of old titles working on Cardboard. To work the magic you’ll need the Android vintage emulator RetroArch, including ROMs you wish to load up), Google Cardboard VR headset and a compatible smartphone.
Today, though, its games are finding a bit of redemption from a Reddit user calling himself “The King of Spain” in the form of a modified emulator for the Samsung Gear virtual reality headset or Google Cardboard. To make it work, all you’ll need is a Android phone, either of the above virtual reality devices, a ROM file for the Virtual Boy game you want to play, and the RetroArch emulation app (where you illegally acquire a ROM is none of our business but let’s just say it’s not hard). From there it gets slightly more complicated in that you’ll need to download and create a folder for the “video shader” the good king has provided in order to render the gameplay as a “VR-friendly side-by-side image.” Further tweaks allow for the same blood-red (“headache-inducing,” to use The King’s words) visuals we saw back in 1995.
What makes this rather awesome is how you’ll be able to experience titles like Wario Land on Google Cardboard. There’s little investment aside from configuring the emulator on your smartphone. Here’s a video of it all in action::
Thankfully, The-King-of-Spain notes that he has not experienced motion sickness or any issues while enjoying certain Virtual Boy titles on Google Cardboard. As noted in the Reddit post:
“After about 30 minutes of play time, I’m not experiencing any of the Virtual Boy’s trademark motion sickness. There’s also something to be said for playing the games in grayscale instead of the headache-inducing red. It’s pretty cool to see Virtual Boy games in their full stereoscopic glory, but the added depth doesn’t seem to add much value gameplay-wise.”
But don’t expect a Virtual Boy renaissance. As The King of Spain decrees, “the added depth doesn’t seem to add much value gameplay-wise,” although it’s “pretty cool to see Virtual Boy games in their full stereoscopic glory.” For the most part Wario Landplays much like 1989’s Super Mario Land for the original GameBoy, although there are some cool effects included for its platforming design, such as pendulums that swing toward the camera and teleporters that zap Wario off to ledges on the far wall.
It works so well, in fact, that I like to entertain the thought that Nintendo could bring these games back for the virtual reality headsets. Considering that Nintendo seems most interested in using its first mobile game as a data mining tool, though, that might not be the case.