The Nintendo Virtual Boy (check out our Beginner’s Guide) had one of the shortest retail lifespan in console history. In Japan it was released in July 1995 and discontinued before the end of the year. North America wasn’t much of a different story. Ramping up in August of 1995 and wrapping up by March of 1996. Because of this, there was not only a small game library, but may of the late releases were seen in very short supply. Combine the relative rarity of certain titles with the novelty of the system and many entries in the Virtual Boy make for interesting collectors pieces.
In stark contrast to the Cheapest Games series, this Rare & Valuable series will round up the rarest and most valuable games for a given console or handheld so you’ll know what to look for whether you are buying or selling. Below you will see two prices beside each title. The first is the average selling price of a bare cartridge. The second price is the highest price in the past three months for a complete copy (assuming it came with a box). Sealed values are also shared, when available.
Updated in September 2020
The Expensive Japanese Virtual Boy Imports
Virtual Bowling: $1200 – $1800
The lack of a save battery means your scores are wiped when you switch off (passwords for resuming are available). Virtual Bowling and SD Gundam Dimension Wars, which is mentioned below, were the final official Japanese releases for the Virtual Boy.
Back in our last 2014 updated, Virtual Bowling had recently been sold for $1,225 (up from $900 a few years prior). It hasn’t surfaced a lot since then, but prices over the last five years have ranged upwards of $1,800.
Virtual Lab: $700 – $1200
One of the last Virtual Boy games to be released in Japan, Virtual Lab is a strange falling block puzzler that was supposedly still under development when developer J-Wing got wind of Nintendo’s plan to discontinue the Virtual Boy.
To make some return on their investment, they were said to have rushed the game out the door. The fact that ‘Nintendo’ is charmingly spelt ‘Nintenndo’ on the back of the box in addition to the fact that it is considered the worst Virtual Boy game ever released only adds to the rush-job legend.
Virtual Lab has been more elusive than Virtual Bowling over the years, but the 2014 sale on eBay (same seller and buyer as these other “Big 4” imports), Virtual Bowling earned more of a return ($760 vs Virtual Bowling’s $1225). It has remained elusive to this day. There are often listings of Virtual Lab on eBay in the $1500 range, but we think it could move at the $1200 price point in good condition.
SD Gundam Dimension Wars: $610 – $1100
SD Gundam Dimension War was released exclusively in Japan by Bandai in 1995 (as mentioned above it was one of the two final official Japanese releases for the Virtual Boy). The game’s small print run and exclusivity has kept the demand strong.
SD Gundam Dimension War strategy format is similar to that of Advance Wars on the Game Boy Advance, commanding troops on a grid based battlefield, however, the Virtual Boy title has you fighting out the one on one battles yourself.
In the last few years, we have seen an English patch for the game surface and subsequent English-language reproductions of the game (of high-end quality) surface on eBay for quite impressive prices (for as much as $1000). However, for the purposes of this guide, we’re focusing on the real Japanese version. Back in 2014, it sold for $710 (less than that new repro, in case you didn’t notice). Now, we’ve most recently seen a loose cartridge sell for $610. Complete copies are being listed in the $1300 range, but not really moving. The $1,000 range seems a reliable price point to find a buyer right now.
Space Invaders Virtual Collection: $510
Between the rarity of the cart, the Japanese exclusivity, the cultural appeal of Space Invaders, and some quality gameplay modes, the Space Invaders Virtual Collection makes for a wonderful collectors piece. It isn’t quite as rare as the titles above, but it is still a treasured piece of any Virtual Boy collection.
In 2014, we had this collection in the $500 range, but it’s reliably selling for more — closing in on double the value in just six years time based on the small handful of units that have successfully sold in the last few months.
Treasured USA Releases
Jack Bros.: $500 – $800
Altus is known for making quality titles and having relatively small print runs. The case is no different for their release of Jack Bros. for the Virtual Boy. This action title is actually a spin-off of the Megami Tensei series and marks the first of the series to be translated to English. It’s a solid game and with some relatively limited competition, Jack Bros often ranks in the top 2 or 3 games on the Virtual Boy in terms of overall quality and enjoyment.
Back in 2014, you could score a copy for between $120 to $290, but things have escalated quickly with Jack Bros these last six years. It has been a classic example of the North American grail solidifying its lead — and the Megami Tensei connection probably don’t hurt either.
Waterworld: $140 – $330
If you were old enough in the mid-90s, you might remember that Waterworld was a heavily hyped, but disappointing theatrical release. This licensed game based on the movie came out in late 1995 as the Virtual Boy was dying off. Only Nester’s Funky Bowling and 3D Tetris were released in the US afterwards. Water world also represented the final third-party Virtual Boy release in North America.
We’ve seen a modest appreciation of most of the North American Virtual Boy games the last six years or so, but Waterworld is one of the more modest gainer of the heavy rollers — up only modestly from its 2014 levels of $100 to $250. The fact that it is said to be the worst Virtual Boy games in the North American library (and perhaps even worse than the Japanese Virtual Lab release, mentioned above).
3D Tetris: $100 – $340 ($415 Sealed)
Just as the title suggests, this game is just like traditional Tetris except you have to fit blocks strategically in three dimensions instead of the traditional two. T&E Soft developed the game for release in North America, but a Japanese version was planned under the name Polygo Block.
Along the way, production halted due to the dying interest in Virtual Boy software. 3D Tetris was eventual published by Nintendo was served as the final licensed release for the Virtual Boy. Even with this tight timeline, 3D Tetris turned out pretty well and is regarded as one of the top 3 or top 5 games on the Virtual Boy.
Since 2014, this has risen from #5 to #3 on the North American list as complete copies become more important than the elusive “not for resale” pieces listed below.
Check for 3D Tetris on eBay
Check for 3D Tetris on Amazon
Mario Tennis (For Display Only w/ Box): $300
In North America, Mario Tennis was a pack-in game with the Virtual Boy hardware and did not come with a game box. So the only place you could find a box was a rental place or store that had it for display purposes. These boxes specially say “For Display Only” in the corner. As you can imagine, there wasn’t very many of these boxes to begin with, but then there likely many casualties that got thrown out by store staff.
With all the collector growth in the market of good quality cardboard boxes for retro Nintendo systems (especially Mario games), it shouldn’t been surprising that we’ve seen strong growth in a box for a games that didn’t normally come with a box. It has nearly tripled in value over the last six years.
Check for Mario Tennis Box on eBay
Nester’s Funky Bowling: $55 – $220 ($300 Sealed)
Strangely enough, there were two bowling games published for the Virtual Boy. Nester’s Funky Bowling was, however, the only one published in North America and is far more common than the Japanese Virtual Bowling release. Nester might not be as goof of a bowling simulator as Virtual Bowling, but it does include a two-player mode, so the argument can be made that it’s a better game overall.
Since Nester’s Funky Bowling was one of the last two Virtual Boy releases, it has a rather short print run leading to a relatively high price point. Since our 2014 guide, Nester’s Funky Bowling has seen carts increase about 50%, but complete copies have nearly tripled in the same time.
Panic Bomber: $60 – $150 ($355 Sealed)
When you analyze the Virtual Boy library, it’s surprising the relatively high percentage of them are of the “falling block”/“puzzler” games. Panic Bomber is a nice entry in the genre and features Bomberman. It would have been cooler to see what a Bomberman game on the Virtual Boy would have been like, but oh well.
This particular release didn’t even make our list in 2014 and was a relative bargain in the $20 to $25 range for the longest time. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2020 that values began to spike.
Wario Land (Not for Resale Demo): $130
While the original Wario Land is a quality title (some will even say its the best in the library), it isn’t that rare. However, if you can get your hands on the Store Demo version, you could be sitting on some serious cash.
Just be on the lookout for a label that says “Not for Resale – Demo Only” in red letters on a white bar across the top of the label. Hopefully, this small difference won’t spawn counterfiet labels. If you see a bunch of these showing up on eBay, beware.
Vertical Force: $50 – $140
Hudson produced a number of great shmups over the years (check out our TurboGrafx-16 Shmups guide if you want to see a bunch) and they didn’t let the Virtual Boy die off without one.
Vertical Force did manage to receive some pretty decent reviews. It stays true to the traditional shmup formula and making use of some of the Virtual Boy’s nifty 3D features. Most shmup fans aren’t flocking to play on a Virtual Boy regularly, but they are also known to be dedicated collectors, so don’t be surprised if this one continues to climb over the years. Since our 2014 guide revision, Vertical Force cartridges have increased modestly from its $30 levels, but complete copies have nearly tripled from the $50 price point.
Red Alarm Demo Cart : $90 – $95
The game isn’t as popular as Wario Land, so it has kept the price down a bit more. I believe the Red Alarm demos were more common as well as it was a very common showpiece for the Virtual Boy when it launched.
Notable Homebrew Release
Hyper Fighting: $500-$1050
The Virtual Boy is indeed an interesting curiosity in the world of retro gaming and homebrew developers have been trying to come up with interesting projects to run on the hardware for years. However, more of a spotlight shined on the VB Homebrew world when the iconic classic, Street Fighter 2: Hyper Fighting was impressively ported to the Virtual Boy. Due to all that was crammed into the game, this physical released needed a custom, 32Mbt cartridge to fit the ROM. For both a look at the game and its packaging, feel free to check it out in action in this YouTube video review
The Hyper Fighting game ROM was distributed online and can be put on a Virtual Boy Flash Cart, but there were also some very limited quantity of “official” physical copies produced with full, beautiful packaging and manual. However, to avoid Capcom coming around and cracking down on selling games featuring their intellectual property, the physical copies were only distributed privately among long-time members of the Planet Virtual Boy community. You can hear more of the backstory of the commissioning of this development on this video from Jenovi.
As you can imagine, some of these copies eventually made their way to eBay where they can command quite a premium. Of course, Hyper Fighting isn’t part of the canonical Virtual Boy library, but dedicated collectors can’t help but be tempted to add this little treasure to their physical collection.