How did Nintendo play the “Metaverse” 30 years ago?

On March 3, 2017, Nintendo announced its latest game console NS (Nintendo Switch). This console soon became the new favorite of players from all walks of life with its novel gaming experience and excellent game lineup. NS has more thoroughly implemented the design concept of the previous generation of Wii U consoles, and has added improvements to cater to hardcore players on the basis of easy-to-use software and hardware. It has truly made it possible for players of any level to find the right ones on NS. Own happiness.

Although the flaws are not concealed, the shortcomings of NS are also very obvious: outdated hardware, lack of “ingenuity” craftsmanship, Huaqiangbei-level quality control… All players hope that Nintendo can make improvements in subsequent models, so there are also The “uncle party” has “broke the news” year after year, as well as the face slaps year after year. The NS Lite released on July 10, 2019, the NS endurance enhanced version that quietly appeared on Nintendo’s official website on July 17, and the NS OLED Model released on July 6 this year can only be regarded as Nintendo’s specializations of NS itself. Repair, and performance has hardly been substantially improved.

How did Nintendo play the "Metaverse" 30 years ago?

This thing should only be in a dream, how many times can it be heard in the world?

Many players nowadays are talking about Nintendo’s unpredictability in hardware. It seems that Nintendo has never made minor repairs to hardware problems, and will never make a comprehensive product. In fact, if you “rewind” the timeline to the 1990s, Nintendo is not without “disruptive” innovation, but the consequences of this innovation are like drinking fake wine. Almost sent Nintendo directly to heaven.

Can’t stretch it anymore

The first handheld battle ended with Nintendo’s complete victory. Atari Group and NEC, which were beaten by the Game Boy and “Tetris” combination, completely withdrew from the competition, and the only one survived. The Game Gear is left to bite the bones. If you use a paragraph to express the success of the Game Boy, 80% of the paragraph will be like this:

Tell you, don’t be convinced, Nintendo’s handheld is the master! All day long, except for minor revisions, it’s just bad money, nothing else! Change screen? When I, Ama Game & Watch, followed Yokoi Junpei to the President Pu Yamauchi to submit a plan, I replaced all the screens that I should change in my life. The color screens with backlight are only used by the mud legs next door. Lord, there is no screen to change in this life!

In the early 90s, Nintendo had the confidence to say these things, but the good times did not last long. When Yokoi Junpei took the Game Boy to fight, he almost raised his arms and shouted “Heaven and earth, I am the only one”. The dramatic changes in the market environment have given Nintendo a head start.

“My lord, times have changed.”

Nintendo screamed and drank in the handheld market, but did not find that its backyard was on fire. In 1993, a Panasonic who had not been in the muddy waters of the game industry before actually tinkered with the world’s first 32-bit console-Real 3DO Interaction Multiplayer, referred to as 3DO. Strictly speaking, 3DO is not a dedicated host in the true sense, but a set of compatible machine manufacturing standards authorized by 3DO, first manufactured by Panasonic (and other manufacturers) to run games developed for this standard. 3DO’s hardware performance is a high-dimensional blow to the popular 16-bit hosts on the market, but its size and price are huge, so the market response is flat.

How did Nintendo play the "Metaverse" 30 years ago?

The most traditional 3DO looks like this, it looks like a player

Although the sales volume of 3DO is not good, its appearance is tantamount to a thunderstorm, opening a new round of arms race in the host industry. Soon, Sega, Sony, NEC and other manufacturers whose R&D strength is as good as Nintendo’s have launched their own 32-bit consoles. Even Bandai, which is making models, has pulled the Apple far away in Silicon Valley and has become an Apple. The dark history that I want to destroy the most, and has always claimed that “no one understands games better than me” The Atari Group even moved out the Atari Jaguar, which is known as a 64-bit host (actually 32×2). Only Nintendo is still eating SFC. The old book, there is no news of new models.

What is Yokoi Junpei doing at this time?

He is doing VR.

“You explain to me what is a handheld!”

The rapid development of the mainframe soon “spoiled” the eyes of the players. In the era when the Game Boy was born, both the console and the handheld were full of pixel styles. After 1994, Sony’s Play Station has been listed under the name of “the strongest VCD player”, but the handheld is still a pixel style that “does not forget the original intention”, and the Game Boy still has a monochrome display without backlight. This contrast between Yin and Yang makes the Game Boy look like a product of the Industrial Revolution, but rather like a Renaissance era.

Facing this kind of embarrassment, the spirited Yokoi Junping could not sit still: the familiar feeling came back! Prior to the rescue performance of Game & Watch and Game Boy, Yokoi Junpei’s “pattern” suddenly rose to three or four stories high. He immediately started his new project, code VUE, code name VR32.

VUE stands for Virtual Utopia Experience, and VR32 means it is a 32-bit model that supports VR display technology. That’s right, this is the last product Nintendo doesn’t want to mention-Virtual Boy. From the point of view of design and gameplay, it is actually difficult to define whether Virtual Boy is a console or a handheld. Therefore, Nintendo has also created a new category for it: mobile system (NS is an expert).

Although the positioning is special, the purpose of Nintendo’s development of Virtual Boy is to stabilize the handheld market that Game Boy lays down, not to compete with 32-bit consoles. Obviously, Virtual Boy is still a handheld in fact, but it is just a host. That’s it. Junhei Yokoi hopes to make it a transcendence that breaks through the era, but he didn’t expect that this thing will almost overtake himself in the end.

How did Nintendo play the "Metaverse" 30 years ago?

Virtual Boy disassembly diagram, its motherboard area is a circle larger than Raspberry Pi 4B


In Yokoi Junpei’s original idea, Virtual Boy should be a head-mounted VR game console that allows players to start an immersive gaming experience anytime, anywhere. In the 90s, when he developed a VR-focused device, Junhei Yokoi’s idea was not to break away from the times, but a little out of the world.

However, at this time, Yokoi Junpei, with the two successes of Game & Watch and Game Boy, has become the “Great Sage and Sage Master” of the entire industry. Yamauchi Pu’s importance and trust in Yokoi Junpei has reached the point where it cannot be added. He just held up an LED sign at the door of the company every day to show that he would always support giegie.

After Yokoi Gunpei formally put forward his plan, Nintendo was opposed again. Yamauchi pushed back against public opinion, and once fully supported Yokoi Gunpei’s development work, hoping to achieve a great success. In Yamauchi’s view, Junpei Yokoi’s Virtual Boy is a promising project. The Game Boy with outdated hardware can achieve such results. Handing over more advanced hardware to Junpei Yokoi will surely create miracles. Aiwu and Wulai belong to yes.

Yokoi Junpei, who has received such attention, naturally feels his love, expressing that he has received the holy grace, the minister was the head of the dead, and he will not give up unless the Virtual Boy is brought out. However, he soon felt his ideals and ideals. The huge gap between reality.

“It’s a big step, click!”

The smug Yokoi Gunpei started the development of the Virtual Boy. Although star products such as Game Boy have been developed before, the development difficulty of the Virtual Boy is obviously higher than that of Yokoi Gunpei’s three- and four-story “pattern”. few. Virtual Boy uses a linear scan-based LED display eyepiece. Two sets of flat mirrors with a horizontal resolution of 224 pixels scan back and forth two display arrays corresponding to the player’s left and right eyes at a refresh rate of 50 Hz. Each vertical scan is 384. Pixels, thus forming a binocular display with a resolution of 384×224. Although the resolution is not high, the depth of field effect produced is “very next-generation feeling.”

How did Nintendo play the "Metaverse" 30 years ago?

Screen design when Virtual Boy is finalized

It stands to reason that such advanced display technology should be combined with advanced software and hardware to achieve the best results, but Yokoi Junpei started his own “thinking based on the level of withered technology” at this time. Although Virtual Boy is expensive as a 32-bit handheld, its own hardware performance is ridiculously low.

Of course, there are compromises for battery life, but the main problem is that as a portable device, the internal space left for hardware configuration is really not enough-but not enough, the absolute performance of the Virtual Boy is too low. So that it is impossible to make full use of VR technology to render 3D pictures, most pictures with depth-of-field effects are realized by using lines and dot matrix. It is better to make some exquisite 2D pictures.

Also due to lack of internal space, Virtual Boy’s game carrier was still a cassette in the mid-90s when CD-ROMs were flying all over the sky, which also caused its game capacity to shrink drastically-but it doesn’t matter, because almost no one can play Virtual Boy More than half an hour.

“Watch me wink and act.”

We tried to use a color LCD screen, but the result was that the player couldn’t see the depth at all, they only saw two identical images. Colorful game graphics will give people the illusion that the game is high-tech. But just because the game has a beautiful display does not mean that the content of the game is interesting. …Looking at it the other way round, the red LED screen uses less power, and the red color is easier to be recognized by people. This is why red is used in traffic lights.

If it is reasonable to say that the 1989 Game Boy used a monochrome screen, then it is somewhat unreasonable that the 1995 Virtual Boy also used a monochrome screen. Yokoi Junpei gave his reasons for choosing a monochrome screen, but when explaining the design concept, selective amnesia generally ignored the most important factor: cost.

There was a short-lived color screen version in the early development machines of Virtual Boy, but its manufacturing cost was as high as $500. Obviously, this figure is a little bit Versailles for most players. After dispelling the idea of ​​using a color screen, Yokoi Junpei fell into his own “level thinking based on withered technology.” In order to further reduce costs, he found the cheapest option on the market-that is, the red LED screen used when the Virtual Boy was finalized.

How did Nintendo play the "Metaverse" 30 years ago?

The simulator demo screen of the Virtual Boy game “Mario Tennis”, the real machine screen performance is much worse than this

With this “good quality and low price” screen, Virtual Boy’s display effect cannot be said to be unsatisfactory, but at least it can be said to be disgusting. Needless to say, the damage of the red light source to the eyes is naturally unnecessary, and at such a close distance, the red LED with a flicker frequency of 50 Hz is almost directly hit on the player’s retina.

The most terrible thing is that Virtual Boy, as a head-mounted device, did not optimize for the shaking during use. The predetermined head tracking technology was directly cut off due to technical research and cost reasons, which led to the emergence of Virtual Boy Serious image polarization problems can dazzle people in less than a few times. That kind of psychedelic picture is simply “electronic heroin.”

Virtual Boy’s hardware defects are quite fatal, and Yokoi Junpei is helpless. It is not difficult to find that in the remarks quoted at the beginning of this paragraph, Yokoi Junping deliberately avoided the picture problem, but sacrificed Nintendo’s nirvana: “gameplay.”

“Give you a chance, you won’t be of use!”

Nintendo’s game console releases are indispensable for the escort of the first-party masterpieces. Although Yokoi Junhei, a hardware engineer, has also led masterpieces such as “Super Mario Continental”, after all, there is a specialization in the technical industry, and the Virtual Boy architecture is too complicated. Compared with Game Boy, its development difficulty is simply that of Saiyan Raditz versus the five scum of the earth war.

In desperation, Yokoi Junhei, who had already closed his door on Game Boy’s game development before, had to “secondly visit the thatched cottage” and went to Shigeru Miyamoto again, hoping that this old friend would not consider his own face. Don’t give yourself face, but for the author, it is better to copy the text of the Game Boy article directly. The scene is reproduced.

“Xia Keshang” is jokingly called Japan’s “intangible cultural heritage” because Japan has always maintained the record of the highest number of people in history. Yokoi Gunpei has a good understanding of Shigeru Miyamoto. In the twelve years since Shigeru Miyamoto entered Nintendo to the official release of the Game Boy, his relationship with Gunpei Yokoi has changed from being a simple subordinate and boss to a colleague and a colleague. Buddy.

However, the appearance of two masterpieces, “Super Mario Bros.” in 1985 and “Hailal’s Fantasy: The Legend of Zelda” in 1986, made Miyamoto shine, although this unborn game genius has not changed his mentor to the past. His respect and admiration, but when Yokoi Junpei asked him to develop a game for Virtual Boy, Shigeru Miyamoto tactfully refused to provide all support except help. Shigeru Miyamoto’s meaning is also very clear: Although I am happy to help, Virtual Boy’s hardware is so bad that it is sad to see the calculator, and the electronic watch is crying. I really can’t develop it under such conditions. Works worthy of your own conscience, so you should find another job.

Seeing this, the fate of Virtual Boy has basically been finalized. But before that, there is another person who wants to make the last cut for him-this person is Nintendo President Pu Yamauchi.

Completely defeated

On November 14, 1994, Nintendo officially announced the Virtual Boy under development; the next day, Virtual Boy conducted a live demonstration at the Nintendo Face-to-face meeting in Japan, and its novel game method has attracted widespread attention.

At the CES exhibition on January 6, 1995, Virtual Boy met up close to the players for the first time. In fact, the Virtual Boy was still under development at this time. The busy Yokoi Junpei did not want to make it public at all. In order to complete this cross-age work, he has to personally experience almost everything, but he also knows that there is not much time left for him.

How did Nintendo play the "Metaverse" 30 years ago?

Interview with Junpei Yokoi and Virtual Boy in 1995

“The one who kills the horse is also by the side of the road.”

Pu Yamauchi was very optimistic about the development prospects of Virtual Boy. After the CES exhibition in 1995, the major media gave Virtual Boy a high evaluation. Yamauchi Pu felt that he was a wise move to reject the crowd this time. Nintendo’s little genius is short of “Nintendo only has ten fights, Yokoi Gunpei and Miyamoto have two fights, and the rest has eight fights.” In order to express his confidence, Yamauchi Hsu at the Q1 shareholder meeting in 1995 readily promised: “Virtual Boy will sell 5 million units in the first fiscal year of sale, bringing a profit of 80 billion yen to Nintendo!”

Yamauchi’s gunshots at the shareholders’ meeting almost carried Yokoi Junpei directly away. 5 million units? 80 billion yen? Virtual Boy hasn’t left a word since its official release. Why would it sell for 80 billion yen? But at this moment, Yamauchi could not listen to Yokoi Junping’s painstaking advice. He believes that once the Virtual Boy is on sale, it will be a big hit. At this time, Nintendo should be ready to overtake in the corners.

Therefore, Yamauchi began to step up the development of the 64-bit host N64 (Nintendo 64), which also caused the already slow Virtual Boy to stagnate, and the original performance problems, display problems and game problems were not resolved. Yokoi Army Ping has thus become a model for being forced to smash.

Yokoi Junpei was forced to smash for a few months, but Yamauchi’s mood was like a hermit crab changing its shell-the mussel couldn’t hold it anymore. The rapid development of 32-bit consoles turned Nintendo into a lonely family in the console market overnight. Here, N64 development is difficult to produce, and Yokoi Junping on the other side has no news. At the beginning of the year, Yamauchi, who was in Haikou, was afraid that he would not be able to fulfill his promise. , I had to come to Yokoi Junpei personally to ask if Virtual Boy could be released. When Yokoi Jun shook his head, Yamauchi couldn’t stretch it anymore.

“Now I will teach you what is the spirit of Nintendo!”

In order to save Nintendo’s decline as quickly as possible, Yamauchi decided to forcefully release the Virtual Boy on July 21, 1995. As for the problems of the Virtual Boy, he has been promoted from a young genius to a smarter, and he has his own solution. Hardware performance issues? It doesn’t matter, our Nintendo handheld hasn’t worked well; the display problem? It’s easy to handle. Since the headset will have polarization, then cancel the headset function. Instead of adapting the game console to the player’s head, it is better to let the player’s own head fit the game console.

The game problem is not even a problem: when the Game Boy was launched, there were not many games, just wait for the developer to put a shy face on his cold ass. Yamauchi Pu’s solution is so simple and rude, it can be called the game industry’s “Killing You 3000”. Soon, the three tricks went down, and the Virtual Boy, which was originally in a bad state, lay flat.

In order to increase the public awareness of Virtual Boy, Nintendo spent more than 30 million US dollars in advertising fees after the launch, but these overwhelming advertisements did not have any impact on Virtual Boy’s sales. Although Virtual Boy is equipped with advanced display technology, consumers do get a novel gaming experience, but they need to pay a price of up to 15,000 yen, as well as their own eyes and cervical spine.

How did Nintendo play the "Metaverse" 30 years ago?

Well, that’s how Virtual Boy plays

Although Nintendo publicly claimed that the Virtual Boy’s desktop fixed design complies with the Schepens Eye Institute’s recommendations for safe use of eyes, most players still experience discomfort during the game, which directly caused the Virtual Boy’s evaluation to plummet.

Nintendo’s rental campaign launched to promote Virtual Boy also had a counterproductive effect: the event did make players realize the new experience of Virtual Boy, but it also made more players aware of the potential hazards of Virtual Boy to their eyesight. At this time, Sony, who is not too busy to watch the excitement, got involved again. Sony SCE asked an ophthalmologist to buy a few drafts, and through rumors, “found true” the hypothesis that Virtual Boy is harmful to eyesight. As a result, Most of the players who rented the machine did not choose to buy a new machine after returning it, but instead turned to the embrace of Play Station.

game over?

Virtual Boy died violently within three months after its launch, and many dealers had to sell the machines at a price that was 30% lower than the list price. Even so, the Virtual Boy sales did not exceed 350,000 until the official shutdown in early 1996. Taiwan, has not reached one-tenth of Yamauchi Pu’s target. The dismal sales caused vendors who had originally discussed their development plans with Nintendo to delete their libraries and run away, adding to the shortage of Virtual Boy games. SQUARE, which has been cooperating with Nintendo for a long time, even took this as a reason for Nintendo’s break.

The business failure of Virtual Boy is the biggest humiliation since Yamauchi took office. At the shareholders meeting in July 1999, he had to perform bowing traditional arts to apologize to the angry shareholders.

How did Nintendo play the "Metaverse" 30 years ago?

There are no more than 22 games published on Virtual Boy, which shows that it has failed in business

The entire Nintendo attributed the tragic failure of the Virtual Boy to Yamauchi Pu’s arbitrariness and Yokoi Junpei’s whimsical. However, Yamauchi Pugui is the president, and when he thinks that greeting the president’s family may let him bid farewell to his career, everyone is still more inclined to say goodbye to Yokoi Junpei.

For a time, all the anger was poured out to Yokoi Gunpei. Every day, he was criticized and criticized. Some even believed that SQUARE’s “rebellion” was directly related to him (SQUARE was taken care of by Yokoi Gunpei at Nintendo). Although Yamauchi did not show him a face, Yokoi Junpei himself knew that the president who once trusted him so much would not feel sorry for giegie anymore.

On June 23, 1996, Nintendo N64 was released. The launch of the new console completely reversed the decline of Nintendo, but it also took away the last glimmer of hope in the handheld market. On August 15th of the same year, Yokoi Junpei resigned from Nintendo and took all responsibility for the failure of Virtual Boy.

Yokoi Junpei’s departure was not only “to take over for the emperor,” it was also a declaration of his final dignity. This is the end, and this series of articles seems to be almost over. But no one thought that Yokoi Junpei did a crucial thing seven years ago, and this thing is about to create a legend in the history of game development.

However, that is the story of the next issue.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
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