Nintendo had several additional projects in the works when its Virtual Boy system crashed in the marketplace, so while the likes of Mario's Tennis, Red Alarm, and Teleroboxer have become name-checked mainstays in Virtual Boy conversations, unreleased titles like Dragon Hopper and Zero Racers have been doomed to slip into obscurity. However, thanks to the efforts of Vince Clemente and Richard Hutchinson, one of those forgotten games has returned from the darkness. Nintendo's canceled Bound High has been resurrected and given a proper unofficial released nearly two decades after its demise complete with physical cartridges created by sacrificing other Virtual Boy games, boxes, and other familiar trappings. Chris Kohler at Wired has the story.
The Bound High cartridges are made up of some new parts and some salvaged from existing Virtual Boy games. Another collector acquires old games, cleans them, and sends them to Hutchinson.
“There is no other way to make Virtual Boy carts,” Hutchinson said in an e-mail. While the plastic shells could be easily manufactured, the part inside that connects the circuit boards to the game console cannot. So the only feasible way of creating a new game is to use an old cartridge, euphemistically and morbidly referred to as a “donor.” Between Flashboy and other Virtual Boy projects, Hutchinson says he’s sacrificed a thousand Virtual Boy games, mostly the most common one Mario’s Tennis.
“The hardest part of the whole process is removing the connectors from the ‘donor carts’,” Hutchinson says. “It’s time consuming, as it has to be done slowly to avoid damaging them.”
Transforming common video games into rare releases has been going on for a while (there's a whole gray market business centered around changing Super Mario Bros. 3 into the unreleased North American localization of Mother, for instance), but seeing the practice applied to Virtual Boy games is much more unusual because the target market is much smaller. There are far more old Nintendo Entertainment Systems floating around out there than Virtual Boys, plus the cost of a new copy of Bound High runs much more than a Frankensteined NES game. Still, it's great that people are carrying on the Virtual Boy legacy and launching these lost games into the community (copyright laws aside, I just admire the cowboy development spirit of it all).