Released back in 1995 to abysmal sales and poor reviews, the Nintendo Virtual Boy suffered from budget cuts during its development resulting in Nintendo’s biggest failure that everyone likes to dump on. But for those who managed to snag one and a pile of games on clearance (like yours truly) it provided a genuinely enjoyable, if somewhat cumbersome, 3D gaming experience before affordable(ish) virtual reality hardware was a thing. Despite Nintendo’s claims, however, the Virtual Boy was not really a portable console, requiring a table and chair to properly play it. So Shank Mods set out to fix that.
YouTuber ‘Shank Mods’ is a master at turning consoles into handheld portables by trimming down and miniaturizing their original electronics. They’ve gone as far as squeezing a functional Nintendo Wii into an Altoids tin, but their latest creation turns the clunky Nintendo Virtual Boy into a slick handheld that preserves its iconic (or notorious) black and red screen while offering other colors too.
Instead of just throwing some Virtual Boy game roms onto a handheld emulator and calling it a day, Shank Mods took the long route to create what they’ve dubbed the ‘Real Boy,’ starting with an original Virtual Boy motherboard from a damaged unit. Using a custom chip that makes the VB’s native hardware output a genuine VGA video signal (the console didn’t have screens, but strips of flashing red LEDs that scanned back and forth to create images) the Real Boy features a generous 4.3-inch, 16:9 LCD display with a resolution of 800×480 pixels that makes Virtual Boy games look better than they ever have.
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- A skilled modder transforms the Virtual Boy into a really portable gaming system
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