Nintendo is known as a company with massive video game successes, but in August of 1995, they launched what would end up being one of their biggest gaming failures.
Nintendo in the mid-90s had a trio of massive successes. The Nintendo Entertainment System was waning, but had come off a decade of domination of the market, the Game Boy portable system was a hit, and their latest system, the Super Nintendo was going toe-to-toe against the Sega Genesis.
In 1994, the company announced a system to offer 3D graphics in the form of virtual reality, what would become known as the Virtual Boy.
To keep costs affordable for the consumer, the system offered virtual reality in the form of red-only graphics, instead of full color.
The system launched in Japan in July and North America on August 14th, 1995. Games available at launch included such releases Mario Tennis, which in the United States, was a pack-in game with the console.
The system sat on a flat surface, with a viewer immersing themselves into a display. Some critics and players were said to have experienced headaches and other physical discomfort in extended play sessions.
Despite multiple price drops from the original $180 price tag, the system was not a success, and only 14 games were releases for the system in North America.
Less than 800 thousand units were shipped, and it was discontinued in 1996.
Many years later, Nintendo found success with perceived 3D in a different way–the Nintendo 3DS handheld, which is currently a massive success in the gaming market.