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Hoo boy… this is kind of a hard sell. The idea of a heavily armed spaceship blowing the hell out of everything is immediately enticing, and if you add 3D to the mix it really starts to sound like a sweet deal. But Red Alarm opted to go for wireframe graphics instead of sprites or shaded polygons, so you get a game that’s occasionally incomprehensible, if not outright unplayable. Try to make sense of this:
…riiiight. Believe it or not, I somehow found Red Alarm entertaining, and there’s something to run with here. Spruce it up, overhaul the controls so they don’t use the horrid dual D-pad setup, add some free-roaming areas or at least goddamn graphics and I bet Nintendo could salvage Red Alarm. That said, it does seem like a Star Fox game without any Star Fox, so creating a second space-shooter franchise might be overkill. In that case… just throw Fox McCloud on the cover.
Every platform needs some form of Tetris, and the concept of taking this venerable series into the third dimension is as sound as can be. But the execution here, with just one color to work with and barely any processing power, is flat-out appalling.
I’ve watched that clip five or six times as still can’t make out what’s happening. Some blocks falling, points pop up, something disappears… but it’s so glacially slow and aggressively uninteresting I can’t fathom anyone bothering to play it for more than 30 seconds. But done right? Why, I reckon it’d be even cooler than Tetrisphere, which, while we’re at it, deserves a 3D makeover too.
In total, there were only 14 Virtual Boy games released in the US. Of those, only these nine (plus maybe Panic Bomber and Vertical Force?) are remotely worth playing, and even then the cumbersome controller and physically offensive hardware make them almost impossible to enjoy. But the 3DS could save them from their fate, redeeming not just their original programmers, but also, in a small way, the Virtual Boy itself. I guess.
All Virtual Boy screenshots came from the immensely helpful MobyGames
Jan 11, 2011
Nintendo Time Capsule 1997-2001
We unearth over 20 decade-old videos the world’s never seen
The complete history of Mario RPGs
We chronicle one humble plumber’s random encounters with role-playing stardom
Nintendo’s most failingest peripherals
Each and every one will (not) change the way we play games
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