Awful Moments in Multiplayer Gaming: The Virtual Boy

virtualboy

Contrary to what you may expect, this is not going to blast the Virtual Boy for being the Virtual Boy. In fact, prepare for some praise.

Despite its monochromatic red and black screens, the Virtual Boy was a far better piece of hardware than it is given credit for. Certain games, including Wario Land, are quite simply phenomenal.

However, what is rarely mentioned are the multiplayer capabilities of the system. On the bottom of the headset, right behind the controller port, is an unused port labeled “EXT.” That was supposed to be used for multiplayer titles, and certainly a few released titles would have benefited from the feature. Mario Tennis, a solid if simplistic Mario sports game before those became in vogue, was a pack-in to showcase the technology. If any title would have benefited from offering a second player option, this was it.

But, it was not to be. The Virtual Boy died before an official link cable was ever released, and as such, no multiplayer games made it to shelves. Waterworld was planned to support an additional player, but the feature was dropped before release (and it was a small release at that, remaining one of the rarest US titles on the system amongst collectors). The fanbase actually created two homebrew titles and a custom link cable to support the feature, but that technically doesn’t count despite the dedication.

So, while technically it never had a chance to show the world what it could have done in a room full of people with consoles attached to their faces, it still qualifies for offering multiplayer and never delivering. What a shame, but at least the world had Wario Land.