Virtual Boy Reviews R-T

Red Alarm
Grade: F
Publisher: T&E Soft (1995)
Reviewed: 2003/8/3

screenshotUgh - I don't like this one at all. I kind of expected the Virtual Boy to have a 3D shooter like this, but never expected it to be this bad. In Red Alarm you guide a spaceship through 3D underground caverns while blasting wire-frame enemies. The A and B buttons let you speed up or slow down, and R is used to fire.

In addition to your main cannon, there's a confusing lock-on system that lets you fire homing missiles. The L button initiates sharp turns needed to navigate some of the more tricky corridors. Red Alarm makes you fly under barriers and between posts a lot, bringing to mind the original Star Wars arcade game. Thank goodness you don't incur damage for scraping against walls!

You'll encounter some cool enemies, like a wall that transforms into a face, but Red Alarm may have been too ambitious for its own good. There are so many enemies and explosions on the screen that you often can't tell what's going on. Changing to a third-person view helps, but there are other problems.

The screen is cluttered with far too many gauges and indicators, and it's hard to maintain control while using the L button due to the choppy frame rate. The boss stages are almost unbearable because they take place in enclosed arenas, forcing you to constantly turn around. Upon losing your ship, you're sent all the way back to the beginning of the stage - talk about demoralizing! Red Alarm could have been a decent game, but it tries to do too much and collapses under its own weight. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 67200
1 player 

Space Invaders Virtual Collection (Japan)
Grade: A-
Publisher: Taito (1995)
Reviewed: 2018/9/1

screenshotOn paper Space Invaders Virtual Collection doesn't look particularly enticing. It's the same monochromatic space armada shooter that rocked the arcades in 1977, except now in 3D. The thing is, this 3D is no joke. Instead of columns of invaders overhead, they are layered in front of you, hovering over a planet surface.

I appreciate how they're rendered with a scan-line style that's faithful to the arcade. The 3D is effective as you watch your missiles shoot up the screen while squiggly bombs fall toward you. This game puts you in the middle of the action! It's a little more difficult to gauge your shots in 3D, but all the more satisfying when you nail a mutant in the distance. Destroyed aliens "pop" with a splatter, and since everything is red I assume that's blood.

You can poke holes in the protective shields but that turns them into a jumbled mess. When the mothership warbles in the far distance, it makes for an irresistible target. It's tough to hit but worth big points so you might as well take a shot. There are some nifty 3D flourishes like how the mothership "buzzes you" upon its escape, or how blasting that final alien causes explosive shards to fly right into your eyes!

In addition to the arcade mode there are time attack and score attack modes. You can even play the original 2D version. All variations let you choose between Space Invaders 1 or 2, but I didn't really notice much difference except for the background scenery. Space Invaders Virtual Collection is great. Any cartridge that can breathe new excitement into a 40-year old video game is worth celebrating. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 1470
1 player 

Space Squash (Japan)
Grade: D-
Publisher: Coconuts Japan (1995)
Reviewed: 2017/5/27

screenshotWhen I hear the word "squash" I think back to something I played on my cousin's Pong console way back in the 1970s Space Squash is similar in concept and not a whole lot more exciting. It's a simple paddle game with a futuristic twist. You play an ant-like alien, competing against metallic opponents that vaguely resemble birds, rabbits, and elephants.

The action takes place in a floating checkered hallway in space. You freely move your jetpack-equipped alien around the near end, and your opponent can be seen at the far end. A metal ball bounces between you, and the idea is to swat it past your opponent in a best-of-five contest. Like most Virtual Boy games, the graphics are pleasing to the eye... at first.

The sense of depth is good and objects are sharply defined. The first few matches are simple back-and-forth contests, but eventually the game adds obstacles like blocks, spinners, and moving columns. Power-ups appear periodically, but much like my life bar, they don't have much impact on the gameplay.

One problem with Space Squash is how your character tends to obstruct your view of the ball! The collision detection is peculiar, as you can strike the ball without actually touching it. In fact, the further away you are when you "hit" it, the sharper the angle it's returned. The first few rounds move along at a steady pace but once you reach the snake-like boss, things grind to a halt. Hitting that thing on the head is really hard, and hitting it ten times takes forever.

Space Squash is more time-consuming than challenging. First it becomes tiresome, and then just plain boring. And once it wears out its welcome, this isn't the kind of game you're going to want to play again any time soon. . © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 1,754,360
1 player 

Strip Poker II
Grade: B+
Publisher: Amsterdam Software (1996)
Reviewed: 2017/4/1

screenshotIt's a shame Nintendo's Virtual Boy was discontinued before it had a chance to develop a quality line of adult titles. Fortunately one of its previously unreleased games was recently unearthed. Strip Poker II is similar to its 8-bit predecessor, only rendered in glorious red and black! I know what you're thinking - and yes - the cards are rendered in 3D! They look like they're floating above the screen!

As was the case with the original version, Strip Poker II teaches valuable life lessons. Mainly, it's hard to get a woman to take off her clothes and a great deal of luck is required. Those familiar with the Virtual Boy know the system is famous for its excessive warnings against looking at its screen for more than 15 minutes at the risk of eye damage. Being the diligent critic however I played this thing for seven hours straight!

There were side effects however. First, the image of that half-dressed hottie is now forever burned into my retinas. I see her wherever I look! That's the good news. The bad news is I seemed to have developed an annoying crick in my neck. On the whole I think it was worth it. My Virtual Boy is finally a Virtual Man. Madly addictive and only moderately detrimental to your health, Strip Poker II is indisputable proof that chicks from the 90's were hot - red hot! © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Teleroboxer
Grade: B+
Publisher: T&E Soft (1995)
Reviewed: 2003/8/3


screenshotThis innovative boxing game is the most intense title I've played on my Virtual Boy, and without a doubt the most visually compelling. Sporting a first-person point-of-view, Teleroboxer challenges you to box a series of fearsome robot warriors. Most of the fighters seem inspired by animals like an ape or kangaroo, and each has some kind of special ability that will alter your strategy.

Telero's graphics are stunning - I'd give them an A+. Your opponents bob and weave fluidly, and their fists move toward you in 3D. Your punches are effectively rendered by floating fists, and you can throw jabs, hooks, and uppercuts. The clever control scheme takes advantage of the symmetrical design of the Virtual Boy controller, letting you easily dodge, guard, and duck.

Teleroboxer is a perfect fit for the Virtual Boy, and it's very challenging. After the first opponent, the difficulty ramp is steep, which kind of turned me off. Advanced opponents require more of a defensive approach, so you'll need to block their punches before getting a chance to connect. The cartridge saves up to three records, so you don't have to go back and fight old opponents. Hards as nails but visually stunning, Teleroboxer is a game any Virtual Boy fan should own. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


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Screen shots courtesy of Planet Virtual Boy