Here are a couple "fresh kills" that I thought you might
Nintendo Virtual Boy
In the halcyon rush to capitalize on the pop cultural fad of virtual reality,
Nintendo produced what amounts to a cross between a Super NES and a
head-mounted display. The gaming device is two to three times the size of
other commercial head mounted display devices. Furthermore, due to its
bulkiness and weight, the Virtual Boy sits perched atop a table stand. This
causes the player to sit hunched over the device, reminding me of the old
The Virtual Boy rests comfortably atop the face if it's used in a reclining
position, with the stand resting on the viewer's chest.
The display itself is a monochrome red of fairly high resolution (well
above 320x200), and offers personal adjustments for optical parallax and
focus. The control has six buttons and two "joypads", much like those
offered on the Sony PlayStation. In July 1996, there were only about 20
games extant for this platform.
According to discussions with various local and regional retailers, the
Virtual Boy sales were lackluster, and were not up to Nintendo's
expectations. I would speculate that the Virtual Boy's market failure was
due to its monochrome display, its cumbersome ergonomics, and the fact
that no one else can watch the user play. The competitive spirit is a big
part of the enjoyment of gaming.
Currently, the Virtual Boy is still on the shelves, retailing for around $95.
The used apparatus are commonly available for around $40, with games
selling for about $25.
One ironic point of note: as I sifted through the Virtual Boy titles on the
shelves, the title displayed most prominently was "Water World."Dead medium:
Logitech CyberMan (3D Mouse)Source(s): Owners' manual, personal experience.
Another entry in the race to capitalize in the VR craze of the mid-nineties
was the Logitech CyberMan mouse. A three-buttoned horn-like
appendage connected to an ovoid base, the Cyberman was a masterpiece
of design aesthetics. The user could push, pull, turn, and twist the mouse-
like control horn to control movement and rotation in three axes, with six
degrees of freedom.
Furthermore, the Cyberman featured tactile feedback in the form of
vibration through the "mouse."
To sense its location, the device read its position through pressure-
sensitive resistive films. These materials also allowed the CyberMan to
sense the degree of twist in the control horn, enabling it to control the rate
of spin during game play. The tactile feedback was created by a motor
with an offset weight, which vibrated with an often startling thrumming
In operation, the CyberMan was extremely inaccurate. Its location
method was imprecise, and its plastic construction was flimsy. It was
difficult to operate in graphical user environments, such as Microsoft
Windows. However, the CyberMan was supported by game
manufacturers, such as ID and Apogee. In games such as Descent, the
Cyberman performed wonderfully. It's still my personal favorite I/O
device for 3D games, along with the Virtual I/O glasses' head tracker.
The CyberMan was discontinued by most national retailers in mid-1995,
and hasn't been heard of since.
Would the Nintendo Power Glove be considered 'dead' even though it
has a vital cult following? I would argue it is, due to its death as a
mainstream gaming i/o device.
Ever your loyal necronaut,
Pat Lichty (email@example.com)