The Virtual Boy was not Nintendo's finest hour. Despite its groundbreaking use of 3D, the system suffered from unwieldy hardware, reports of games causing headaches and the promise of the next generation of 3D consoles just around the corner. When the system was discontinued less than a year after it launched, it took a number of in-development games with it.
This article contains what we know about the lost first-party Virtual Boy games. If you have more information on any first-party games that didn't make it, please contact NinDB.
Virtual Boy Mario Land
Shown at the Winter CES 1995 in January, Virtual Boy Mario Land was originally planned as an adventure game with a minigame based on the arcade Mario Bros. It is widely believed that the minigame was spun off to become Mario Clash, while the adventure part was dropped and wasn't even shown at the first E3 show the following May.
The adventure portion of the game appears to have been a traditional, side-scrolling Mario platformer, with pipes and enemies to stomp. Wario appears to have been the villain of the piece, as his face appears in the game.
Mario could walk from the foreground into the background, and when entering a building or cave the view would switch to a birds-eye perspective.
Also known as G-Zero, Zero Racers would have been the first 3D entry in the F-Zero series. With the F-Zero Grand Prix over, racers now take part in the high-thrill, zero-gravity G-Zero Grand Prix races.
The racers effectively fly around the 3D wireframe circuits. Three of the original racers were confirmed to return (Falcon, Stingray and Goose), and joined by a new craft, Origammy.
A prototype of the game was shown at E3 1996, and it was previewed by Nintendo Power magazine. However, by 1996 the Virtual Boy was already considered a failure and was discontinued shortly after.
Developed by Intelligent Systems, and known as Jump Dragon in Japan, Dragon Hopper was largely complete and due for release in 1996.
You control Dorin, the prince of Dragons from the kingdom of Celestia. The evil Prime Minister has kidnapped the King and Queen of Dragons, as well as Dorin's princess, Diana. Dorin escaped but fell into the Land of Faeron. Now he must escape Faeron, collecting fairy spirits and learning spells if he is to return home and rescue his family.
The action is viewed from a birds-eye perspective, but you navigate the stages by jumping on increasingly higher platforms. On each stage you have to collect all of the stars and find the elemental fairies who will give you special powers. There were seven stages in total, with a boss character to battle in each.
Designed by Hideyuki Nakanishi of Japan Systems Supply, Bound High was considered to be the game that would lead the second generation of Virtual Boy software in 1996. Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi mentioned Bound High as the most promising VB title in his keynote speech at the Nintendo Space World exhibition in 1995.
You play as a robot named Chalvo who appears in game as a bouncing ball with a robot face. Viewing the action from a birds-eye perspective, you have to guide Chalvo around the stages, avoiding pitfalls and defeating enemies. You can defeat an enemy by knocking it into the holes in the stage.
Four modes of play were available: Adventure Mode saw you destroying all of the enemies in a stage; Score Attack has you amassing a high score; Random Play lets you choose a difficulty level and gives you free reign; Pocket & Cushion Mode is a subgame where you have to help Chalvo knock all of the balls into the pockets of a pool table.
Despite the cancellation, Japan System Supply revived Chalvo in his own side-scrolling puzzle game on the Game Boy in 1997, Chalvo 55. The game, however, was not designed by Hideyuki Nakanishi, nor published by Nintendo.
A James Bond game for the Virtual Boy was in development by an unknown studio (possibly T&E Soft), during the years when Nintendo held the publishing rights for the James Bond franchise.
Only one screenshot of the game exists from a brochure, and first-hand accounts of the game are scarce. The game appears to have been a racing/shooting game.