Japanese Exclusive Virtual Boy Games
The Virtual Boy’s short life brought us, or at least people in North America, a total of 14 games. Three of which were exclusive to the region: 3D Tetris, Nester’s Funky Bowling, and Waterworld. In the land of the rising sun, they had 19 of the 22 games released for the system, with 8 exclusives. The purpose of this articles is to show them off to see if they’re worth playing either by emulation, or by buying an actual cartridge.
I should also mention, due to the difficulty of capturing footage of Virtual Boy gameplay, some videos will be of low quality. Virtual Boy games are actually very crisp and easy to see (before possible eye strain/headache) if you play them on the actual console.
Developer: Be Top
Release: November 13, 1995
Of the few games released for the Virtual Boy, I find this game to be the most unique looking and sounding. Insmouse No Yakata is a horror game in a first person perspective with some RPG elements. The point of the game is to find your way out of a haunted mansion, through labyrinth halls, before the timer reaches zero. While looking for the exit you’ll be fighting a variety of monsters with a gun that has limited ammunition.
In the levels you will want to find health and a key to exit the stage. Speaking of stages, the game has a total of 45 levels, but you’ll only be playing through 13. The 13 you play will depend on how long it took you to find the exit. How its laid out reminds me of the stage screen from Shadow the Hedgehog, just not with stupid missions for you to complete in order to get the ending you want. The game also has a total of 4 endings. The number of times you die and the amount of time it takes you to complete the game will determine which ending you will get.
The game gets mixed reviews and it’s rare, so I wouldn’t buy it, but maybe emulate it.
Release: December 22, 1995
This turn-based strategy game is based off the Gundam anime, if you couldn’t tell by the name or box art. Once you attack an enemy you’ll fight them in a 1 vs 1 style for about a minute. You get some weapons in the game like a sword and laser gun.
The game is one of the two last games released for the Virtual Boy so it ranks as one of the most expensive games on the console, so I wouldn’t recommend ordering a cartridge. The game moves at a slow pace so it may bore you after a short amount of time, so I’m not sure if you even want to emulate it, but maybe if you’re a fan of the anime you should go for it.
Release: December 1, 1995
Space Invaders on Virtual Boy has 3 modes for you to play: the original 2D game, Virtual 3D, and Challenge. Not much to say since it’s really just Space Invaders in red and black with some new modes, and since it goes for around $500, you’ll want to emulate it or play the Game Boy and SNES versions.
Developer: Coconuts Japan Entertainment
Release: September 29, 1995
Yet another rare game, Space Squash is a mix of Pong, Super Glove Ball, and Cosmic Smash (a Dreamcast game). The game is set in the future (in a third person view) with the goal of having you beat your opponent like any sports game, but as you progress a variety of obstacles will appear and the game will speed up making you move faster. Also, after every fifth stage you fight a boss and you’ll run into bonus stages along your journey. The game has excellent controls so playing it won’t be difficult, but due to it being one of the more hard to find games for the system, emulation may be the best bet.
Developer: Bullet-Proof Software
Release: August 25, 1995
This game is completely different from the North American game 3D Tetris. Rather than moving Tetris pieces in a 3D environment, V-Tetris plays like a normal version of Tetris but with a new mode.
The game has 3 modes named A, B, and C.
- Mode A is your typical Tetris with the player able to choose at any level from 0-19. The goal is still to get as many points as you can.
- Mode B has blocks scattered around the playing field like mode B from the NES and Game Boy games. This mode ends after 60 rounds or 6 rounds with 10 levels but only if you start from the beginning at round 0.
- Mode C is exclusive to this version of Tetris. Your playing field is cylindrical rather than a rectangle, and you use the L and R buttons to move the cylinder around while using the right D-Pad to move Tetris pieces.
V-Tetris has some background and music options too, but no save system like 3D Tetris.
I’d buy this game for the Virtual Boy, since I enjoy playing puzzle games, and it’s not rare like most of the other Japan exclusive VB games. You may want to emulate it if you’re a Tetris or puzzle fan to try out mode C or buy a cart if you own the system.
Release: December 22, 1995
You know how Nintendo World Championship is the NES’ Holy Grail? Virtual Bowling is the Virtual Boy’s. You have 3 modes: standard, tournament, and training. Like Mario’s Tennis, the tournament mode is the main part of the game. Here you play 3 games with 10 frames like real bowling. The game even offers a bunch of playing options like type, weight of the ball, wax, and music. Virtual Bowling also uses passwords to save your score in tournament mode.
Compared to Nester’s Funky Bowling, Virtual Bowling is rated slightly better, but due to the game costing over $1000, it’d be best to emulate it. This would be the last game made for the Virtual Boy in Japan (along with SD Gundam), with the console being discontinued on the same date as the release of both games.
Developer: Pack-In-Video Co.
Release: October 6, 1995
This game had plans to be released in North America but due to the Virtual Boy’s poor sales it ended up only being released in Japan. As the title states, you’ll be fishing in the game with 2 options for you to choose from, tournament and time attack. In tournament mode you have 8 minutes to catch as many fish as possible, while time attack has you catching 5 fish as fast as you can without any lines breaking.
Thankfully the game isn’t super rare, but fishing games aren’t usually a type of game I see people playing very much if at all, me included, so I’d either skip it or emulate it if you’re curious.
Release: December 8, 1995
A unique Virtual Boy puzzle game, you’d think I’d be a Dr. Mario type game looking at the box art but it plays like a mix between Tetris and Pipe Dream. Development of this game was rushed and thus the game is incomplete and buggy. Even the box and cartridge show signs of rushed development since “Nintendo” is misspelled twice. The game has 3 speeds but they’re almost all the same with the medium speed being the fastest.
This game is also very rare and combining that with the fact that this game is buggy, only collectors should want this game.
If you’re looking for a Virtual Boy emulator.
[Editors Note: Game ROMS are illegal unless you own an original copy of the game]
Thanks to Planet Virtual Boy for information about the games.
Next time I’ll be showcasing the Virtual Boy’s homebrew games.