When a Nintendo game really wants to commit to a gag, it goes all out to ride that joke as far as it can go. Chris Kohler at Kotaku raises the recent example of Luigi's Mansion 3 for the Nintendo Switch following in the footsteps of its predecessor titles by outfitting Luigi not with a Game Boy Horror from the original Mansion or a Dual Scream from the sequel, but with something much more red and failed.
Early on in the game, Professor E. Gadd gives Luigi a way to communicate with him as he trawls the many floors of the hotel. It’s his latest invention… the Virtual Boo. Nearly 25 years later, the Virtual Boy still fascinates video game likers for its sheer ridiculousness; a “virtual reality” system that projected monochrome red graphics in a headset to create a rudimentary 3D effect. It was pure out-of-left-field Nintendo, but this time it was way over the foul line, and Nintendo had to discontinue Virtual Boy within a year of its release.
I absolutely love this. The Virtual Boo! It's perfect and I didn't see it coming. Using the VB even shades the screen a familiar tint of red and headache and the upgrade cartridges for the device are shaped like the Virtual Boy game paks of days gone by. It's fantastic when a long-time game developer and publisher isn't afraid to poke a little fun at itself and leave its more recent fans wondering just what the hell is going on. The Virtual Boo gimmick feels like the culmination of a wonderful twenty-five-year-old in-joke and those of us who remember 1995 are in on the gag.