If you think the Wii U is Nintendo's biggest mess ever, then you clearly weren't alive during the mid-1990s.
Virtual reality may be going through a massive resurgence, but it's hardly the first time pop culture has tried its hand at the format. Really, the only reason that we haven't been playing with something like the Oculus for years now is that the proper technology simply hadn't existed yet - but that didn't stop companies from trying to get stereoscopic virtual reality to work. Just look at the Virtual Boy!
Released by Nintendo in 1995, the Virtual Boy was supposed to surpass the Game Boy as the company's premiere portable system, but it was about as poorly designed as you could get. It came down to two major issues: the system could only display images in a horrible black-and-red palette, and the goggles were so huge that using the console caused serious neck pain and nausea. Predictably, the Virtual Boy died a quick, painful death and Nintendo's been trying to forget about it for years.
And now, after more than 20 years since the Virtual Boy bombed, fans are bringing it back via Google Cardboard.
Yes, that is actually Wario Land for the Virtual Boy playing on a phone equipped with Google Cardboard - and it's actually a pretty faithful recreation of Nintendo's first VR venture. Aside from the absence of the Virtual Boy's disgusting red-and-black palette, the game's all there (and Wario Land was one of the few titles on the console worth playing). However, getting the console to play through your phone does come with one major caveat.
Before we continue, know that emulating games that aren't public domain is considered piracy. Downloading an emulator is fine, but copying or downloading any of Nintendo's content without purchase is illegal - regardless of how terrible the games were. There are guides available online that will walk you through the process of getting Virtual Boy games on your phone, but know that there's some possible legal risk involved.
Despite that, it's great to see the games running in a form that doesn't instantly and automatically induce nausea. The Virtual Boy had so much potential, but Nintendo simply didn't have the tech or design know-how to make the console work - add in a dismal library and even worse sales, and you've got one of the Big N's biggest failures ever.
However, with modern tech at our fingertips, it's a whole lot easier to see what Nintendo was trying to accomplish - who knows, maybe all this talk of VR will inspire the company to start working on a second Virtual Boy system?