10s, 80s, 90s, Characters, TV, Video Games — August 21, 2015 6:04 pm

New Nintendo 3DS XL vs. Virtual Boy

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For the Virtual Boy’s 20th anniversary, Lee finally decided to pick up a 3DS.  Here’s what he had to say…

As someone who paid money to own a Virtual Boy, I’ve kept my distance of the whole 3DS scene.  Yes, it was twenty years ago that I bought an overpriced system that only had fourteen North American titles released and, no, I’m still not over it.  Actually, an argument could be made that Virtual Boy must be the most perfect Nintendo gaming system ever, as they never released a second edition or a re-design as they do with all of their other consoles.

After viewing this commercial, you may understand why some people still have emotional scars from Virtual Boy.

With the 20th anniversary of the Virtual Boy in mind, I finally decided it was time to go 3D again and picked up a New Nintendo 3DS XL for review.  Nodding toward my Virtual Boy days, I picked up a red edition.

The System

Right away, I was impressed that the New 3DS XL didn’t require an easily-broken stand to hoist the system in front of my face like it’s Virtual Boy ancestor.  Thanks to the built-in rechargeable battery of the future, there’s no longer the extra weight of a million AA batteries on the back side of the controls.  They’ve also somehow managed to squeeze 3D into a smaller package, no longer giving players the impression of deep-sea diving gear to cover the face.  In fact, the New 3DS XL is so light that you may be hard pressed to use it as a door stopper.


Thanks to the C-stick now featured on the 3DS line, I can hardly contain my excitement that Virtual Console releases of classics such as Teleroboxer and Red Alarm are now a real possibility.  Additionally, the New Nintendo 3DS XL features a faster processor than the previous generation.  Was 20 MHz not enough?

One of the selling points of the New 3DS is amiibo support, though I’m pretty sure my Virtual Boy stand could sustain the weight of one of those plastic figurines.  Nothing beats classic VB-red, but if you’re really into having choices, the New 3DS is available in more than one color scheme.

So, what’s similar?  The design of the DS line is clearly inspired by the dual screen system of Virtual Boy, though this time you have to see both screens with both eyes instead of an exclusive window view for each eye.  After a while of playing, the system still reminds you to take a break from the 3D world and do something else for a bit.  Some things never change!

The Gameplay

Along with the system, I picked up Super Mario 3D Land and Ultimate NES Remix.  The first thing I noticed about these games is that they’re not red, dark red, or even light red!  In fact, you might say they potentially include the rest of the color spectrum.  This may seem like a minor update, but I assure you it’s more than a small leap from the days of Mario Tennis and Nester’s Funky Bowling.


It feels so strange to have the screen and controller on one device this go around.  For years, I’ve been playing 3D games at my kitchen table with my eyes plugged into half of a helmet and the controller down below via a convenient cable that never gets tangled up around the stand because I can’t see the world around me.  In fact, seeing the world around me feels like an unnecessary distraction with the 3DS.  Why would I want to interact with people?  If Nintendo really wanted me to play games with someone else, they would have released that multiplayer cable for Virtual Boy back in the day!Super Mario 3D Land is fun, but I don’t know if I could honestly stack it up against classics such as Mario Clash and Waterworld.  Also, why is it a Mario Land series game if it features Bowser?  Shouldn’t it take place in Sarasaland with a final showdown against Tatanga?  What, you have no idea what I’m talking about?  Obviously, you aren’t a true fan of Nintendo portable gaming.

Speaking of portability, I wasn’t expecting much from game cartridges smaller than my palm for a system that could possibly fit in my pocket.  How are they able to cram so much megabytes into that tiny space?  At times, it feels as if the 3DS XL may be too tiny.  What if I lose it in a backpack or under a couch cushion?  That would never be an issue with Virtual Boy!


Again, coming from the Virtual Boy days of 3D, I didn’t know if I would appreciate the gimmick of the new era of gaming.  Surprisingly, the 3D effect is utilized to great extents in Super Mario 3D Land.  It’s not just some Count Floyd 3D wow factor fest of coins flying at the screen.  The levels are actually designed with the extra dimension in mind, featuring some sections that go straight down.  Wait a minute…  Haven’t I come across this before?  Agh, I might as well have purchased the same game twice!  Platforms that go down are obviously taken straight out of Jack Bros.

So, how did Ultimate NES Remix fair?  Honestly, I was a little more at home with a pixelated 3DS game that doesn’t actually have 3D levels.  The challenges range from ridiculously easy (jump over a barrel in Donkey Kong) to actually ridiculous (a hyper-speed Super Mario Bros. is included).

Based on previous experience, this is how exciting I expected 3D gaming to be in this century.

Interestingly enough, there are so many games available for the 3DS line, that it seems almost impossible to collect them all.  Even the biggest collectors of Virtual Boy memorabilia only need to collect 22 games, which includes the imported titles.  Coming so late to the 3DS era of gaming, I feel so far behind the curve of around 650 games.  Hey, I’m already 0.003% there to fulfilling my 3DS collection!

Final Thoughts

The 3DS is a more interesting format than I anticipated and I’m already looking forward to picking up a few more games down the road.  Will it ultimately see more use than my Virtual Boy did over the past two decades?  Only time will tell.  As far as a comparison of the New 3DS XL to the Virtual Boy goes, one thing’s for certain: it’s nice to have more than red-only graphics.

1 Comment

  • Excellent write up. Though I think Nintendo should have just kept it simple and gone with blue-only graphics this time. So many colors is too much for me to handle.

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