Hello again, retro gaming friends, and welcome back to The Last Official Release. It’s been a while since the last entry of this series – the retro gaming news cycle has instead been quite fruitful thanks to E3 – but with all that simmering down, it’s back to business. If you’re not in the know, in The Last Official Release I dissect and research the last ever games released for your favourite consoles. Much like a frozen frog in science class, except totally different and completely unrelated.
Frogs or not, a full list of what I’ve already covered can be found at the bottom of this article – but today, we’re checking out what is probably the most well known ‘odd’ gaming console; Nintendo’s Virtual Boy.
Released on the 21st of July, 1995 in Japan and August 15th in North America the same year, this peculiar console was completely self-contained. In the form factor of something like a modern VR headset, gamers could play in stereoscopic 3D through the eyeholes. It was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster; the Virtual Boy used harsh red LED’s to convey the effect – which largely relied on parallax scrolling to mimic depth – and allegedly made some gamers woozy and sick. It was also quite expensive for what it was and only ever had 22 games released for it. After a disastrous year, selling 777,000 units worldwide, Nintendo discontinued the console on the 22nd of December in Japan (so no Happy Christmas for the Virtual Boy) and a little bit later on the 2nd of March in America.
With so few games available, pinpointing the last exact release was quite easy. Interestingly for a Japanese console, the last games were in America – not it’s homeland (as was the discontinuation date). Releasing on the same day as each other in Japan, SD Gundam Dimension War and Virtual Bowling were the last games on Japanese shelves on the exact same date it was canned.
As you’ve probably guessed, SD Gundam Dimension War was a Japanese exclusive and based on the anime series of the same name, being a turn-based strategy game. Virtual Bowling is as described, but since both were the last fetch high prices on auction websites such as eBay. As of writing, there is a $1,300US listing of SD Gundam Dimension War, and an eye-watering €2,300 listing for Virtual Bowling.
The last game in North America, however, was also released on the same date the console was discontinued there. 3D Tetris blazed into the retinas of hardly anyone at all, and overall, isn’t very liked. Utilising both properly 3D rendered objects and an orographic view made it quite unique as a Tetris game – but ultimately, most reviewers panned the ideas it presented and didn’t find it very enjoyable. Here’s a 1 hour, 26-minute longplay video of the game if for some reason you find that a good use of your time:
If you’re after a copy, however, it’s a lot cheaper than its Japanese contemporaries. As of writing, there are listings on eBay for about $100US, boxed.
Previously, on The Last Official Release:
The Last Official Release: Sega Saturn – Undefined Japanese Game (2000)
Intellivision – Spiker! Super Pro Volleyball (1989)
Super Nintendo Entertainment System – Metal Slader Glory: Director’s Cut (2000)
Sega Genesis – Frogger (1998)
Sega Master System – Mickey’s Ultimate Challenge
Game & Watch – Mario the Juggler
PS1 – Schnappi: 3 Fun-Games
N64 – Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3
Game Gear – The Lost World: Jurassic Park
NES – The Lion King
Atari 2600 – Klax
Game Boy – Shikakei Atama o Kore Kusuru: Kanji/Keisan no Tatsujin
Dreamcast – Karous