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It’s time for the virtual reality showdown you’ve all been waiting for: the Oculus Rift vs. the Virtual Boy.

Sure, 20 years of technological advancements separate the two — and many consider the Virtual Boy to be one of worst products that Nintendo has ever made  — but GamesBeat still thinks it’s important to see how these two VR machines compare. So, we’ve put them head-to-head in a variety of categories.

Now, we can see which device rules as VR king (or, if not that, at least see just how far virtual reality has come).

An Oculus Rift headset.

Above: A portal to another world.

Image Credit: Oculus VR


Oculus Rift: Two OLED (organic light-emitting diode) panels, each with resolutions of 1,080-by-1,200.

Virtual Boy: Uses an oscillating mirror to turn a single line of LED pixels into a 3D projection made of red pixels against a black background.

Winner: Rift. The Virtual Boy’s capability to display games in 3D with monochromatic graphics is impressive, but the Rift might have a slight advantage with its panels that are able to show all the colors.



Oculus Rift: The Rift launched with notable games like the space sim Eve Valkyrie and the 3D platformer Lucky’s Revenge. You can also play the futuristic racer Radial G and the puzzler Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. In total, the device launched with 30 games.

Virtual Boy: The Virtual Boy only had 22 games released for it during its lifetime (with only 14 of those coming to the U.S.). However, those games do include titles based on everyone’s favorite plumber like Mario Tennis and Mario Clash. It also includes a game based on the ’90s blockbuster Waterworld. You could also play a great 2D platformer in Wario Land or experience Tetris 3D, which is like Tetris but … you know, in 3D.

Winner: Rift. The Virtual Boy had some gems, but the Rift’s ability to have more games at its launch than Nintendo’s portable had during its entire life lets it eek out a win here.

A space battle in Eve Valkyrie.

Above: A space battle in Eve Valkyrie.

Image Credit: CCP Games

Game distribution

Oculus Rift: Rift users can buy games digitally from an online store accessible with the headset.

Virtual Boy: Games only run on cartridges, which you have to buy from stores (or, if you didn’t stock up back in 1996, eBay).

Winner: The Rift’s online store is convenient, but you can’t proudly display digital games on a shelf next to your collection of Generation 1 Transformers and holographic Pokémon cards. We’ll call this a tie.

It's like you're inside the movie Waterworld!

Above: It’s like you’re inside the movie Waterworld!

Image Credit: UVList


Oculus Rift: The Rift costs a whopping $600 (rounded up from $599.99).

Virtual Boy: The Virtual Boy, meanwhile, launched at $179.95 (no rounding up here, that’s a whole nickle less than $180!). Not only that, but all of the hardware for the Virtual Boy is inside the headset, while the Rift requires an expensive PC to run.

Winner: Well, the numbers spell it out pretty clearly. The Virtual Boy was certainly way cheaper than the Rift. And that was in 1996 money! How can Oculus justify the price of VR going up so much 20 years later? I mean, it does have that whole “our games run in more than red and black” thing going for them, I guess, but does that really add $419.05 to the cost? Even with inflation, the Virtual Boy would only cost $271.94 today, less than half of a Rift.

Dean Takahashi using the Oculus Rift VR headset with Oculus Touch.

Above: Dean Takahashi using the Oculus Rift VR headset with Oculus Touch.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi/VentureBeat


This is a tough call. The Virtual Boy is a cheap way to experience VR games starring Mario and Kevin Costner. However, the Oculus Rift does transport you into vibrant, colorful worlds limited only by the imagination of game developers. We suppose we’ll have to give the Rift a slight victory, although you shouldn’t feel bad if you went with the Virtual Boy. Just don’t play it for too long or you’ll get migraines or permanent brain damage.

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