Holy shit you guys, I have something pretty special to talk about.
In recent years popular media has evolved from standard-def to hi-def, then hi-def to three-dimensional. I’m here to tell you that the third-dimension has taken a huge leap forward in the form of monocular head-mounted viewing devices.
No, I’m not talking about Sony’s 3D headset that was unveiled in prototype stage at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), in Las Vegas. I’m talking about a product much more revolutionary, one that not only allows you to view pictures in fully realized depth but also allows you to control them — as if it were a video game.
I don’t mean to get too technical, but imagine a pair of 1×224 linear arrays that rapidly scan across the eye’s field of view using flat oscillating mirrors. Fucking crazy, right?
You might as well throw out your 3D televisions, tear down your Avatar posters, because they are about to become as obsolete as the goddamn LaserDisc. That’s right my friends, I’ve discovered a device that will single-handedly propel our media culture forward into the next era of interactive entertainment: the Nintendo Virtual Boy.
Don’t want to bother wearing those cumbersome, unfashionable glasses required to engage in the 3D content? Just pony up to the Virtual Boy headset and instantly you’ll be transported to a world of magical depth of field.
Now, to be honest, I don’t exactly know where or when this particular Nintendo product will become available to the public — my time with the Virtual Boy was limited to one behind-closed-doors meeting with a gentleman who referred to himself as Canada’s technology czar — but, rest assured, whenever it does make its way to retail shelves, consumers are sure to be dazzled by this revolutionary experience.
Of course, describing this device in superlative terms can only adequately shed light on but a percentage of its beauty. Upon first setting glimpse inside the Virtual Boy world, players will immediately notice an abundance of the colours red and black — and when I say an abundance, I mean a monopoly. Red and black are the only colours; I’m told this is due to the fact that our simple human brains can only perceive so many visual cues when the 3D is in fact this much 3D.
What types of games will you find on Nintendo’s new device? How about Virtual League Baseball, Panic Bomber, Mario’s Tennis and Galactic PinballI? And just in case these offerings aren’t enough, Nintendo pulled out all the stops, securing the services of box office darling Kevin Costner to reprise his role as Mariner in a fully 3D Waterworld video game, exclusively for the Nintendo Virtual Boy. Since 1995 fans have been frothing at the mouth for a new Waterworld adventure and now, with the Virtual Boy, they finally have it.
My time with Nintendo’s new system was awe-inspiring to say the least, but I would be remiss not to mention the Virtual Boy’s few drawbacks. The system, for one, can be an incredible strain on the eyes. It is not uncommon, for example, for players to experience feverish fits of nausea followed by dream-like hallucinatory visions after more than 30 minutes of direct exposure to the eyes. This, I’m told, is why consumers are advised to ensure a friend, or a “spotter,” is present when using the device — certainly for any long periods of time, but especially when playing Waterworld.
The price point is also sure to be a sticking point for many potential buyers. The lack of any known pricing structure for such device suggests that those looking to be the first adopters of the Virtual Boy are likely to pay a hefty price. According to several unnamed analysts, it is not yet clear whether the Virtual Boy will adopt an online interface similar to Apple’s iTunes store or the wildly popular Zune Marketplace.
Overall, my time with the Virtual Boy was brief but it was enough to prove to this intrepid journalist that anaglyphic red and black images projected inside a plastic 1.5 pound headset, made almost solely for the purpose of having a fat Italian plumber play tennis and a washed-up actor sell dirt in a dystopian future world, that these are surely signs of things to come. Remember this moment, because when everyone is walking around with their Virtual Boy inspired headsets, you can say that you saw it coming.