In the VR community these days, the Virtual Boy is half joke and half grim reminder. On the one hand, it’s a prime example of an idea that was far too ahead of its time to ever have a chance to succeed, but then on the other hand it is so recent that many consumers continue to struggle with the horrendous taste of motion sickness. Luckily, the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Gear VR, and even the Google Cardboard, are off to a much better start than the red-lined stepchild of Nintendo’s past.
With the power of emulation technology and the relatively short-term memories of most VR-positive minds in the world, it looks like we can now experience the Virtual Boy games of yesteryear anew again thanks to reddit user The-King-of-Spain’s findings.All you need is an Android smartphone, a Google Cardboard or Gear VR headset, and RetroArch for Android. Once you’ve got those things, you’ll need some Virtual Boy ROMs – which can be found on the internet, but may not be entirely legal to simply download and obtain – and you should be good to go.
The-King-of-Spain outlines the steps needed to get everything working:
There’s a Virtual Boy core for Retroarch called “Mednafen VB,” by default, it’ll render Virtual Boy games in 2D, but it also has the ability to render games as 3D anaglpyhs (i.e., red/blue glasses). There unfortunately isn’t any way to output a 3d image as a side-by-side pair of images that would be easier to digest for a Google Cardboard setup.
Retroarch has support for a neat feature called “Video Shaders.” Each shader is a script that executes a set of post-processing effects to the video output. One of these shaders, “anaglyph-to-sbs,” will split an anaglpyh image into a VR-friendly side-by-side image.
If you’re not a fan of the way the images looked back in the day – bloody red – then you can tweak that with this program as well, such as outputting in grayscale instead, such as in the image below.
A full screenshot-by-screenshot tutorial and additional info regarding shaders and settings can be found on the original Reddit posting by The-King-of-Spain. Who knows – maybe Nintendo will bring back Virtual Boy games for Google Cardboard at some point if stuff like this is so simple to get working?