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Red Viper - A Brand New Virtual Boy Emulator For The Nintendo 3DS


Red Viper is a newly released emulator that allows games from Nintendo’s 1995 Virtual Boy 3D console to be run on the 3DS. It supports swappable colour palettes, game saves, remappable controls per game and a whole lot more, and runs the entire Virtual Boy back catalogue of games at 100% original speed. So let’s check it out!


This is a Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo’s handheld 3D games console from 2011, and I’ve just spotted that I’ve made a really terrible stylistic choice here by wearing a black t-shirt to show it off, but anyway, it’s the second channel, we shall persevere - and of course this is actually the LL version which was sold as the XL here in the west - this is a Japanese import - and yeah, I think this came out in like 2012 or something like that, it’s not really important.

For what we want to demo today, this is absolutely ideal because it’s got a couple of really nice, big screens on it - and of course it’s got that fantastic glasses-free 3D screen as well - and that’s what the subject of today’s video really takes advantage of because, of course, this wasn’t Nintendo’s first attempt at a 3D games console.

Way back in 1995 they released the Virtual Boy - and quite famously in retro gaming circles, of course, it was quite a big flop as far as Nintendo is concerned. I mean, it was only on the market for less than a year, and they sold something like 700-odd thousand of them, which is absolutely nothing in Nintendo numbers.

The reason for that is basically that the thing was quite heavy and quite bulky and it was kind of intended as this 3D virtual reality thing and people complained about eye strain and about it causing seizures and stuff, and bad backs, and bad necks and all of this stuff. They did release a tabletop stand for it so you could actually set it up on a stand on a table and kind of put your face up to it and use it that way and ultimately it just didn’t see all that much kind of developer support - only 22 games were actually commercially released for it in its short lifespan.

Nintendo kind of brushed it under the rug a bit and tried to forget about it and move on - and a big part of that was actually not releasing the Virtual Boy back catalogue on the 3DS. I mean, you’d think it would be an absolutely ideal platform for playing those old games - and there are some unique games to that platform, which really took good advantage of the 3D capabilities of that console.

So fast forward to 2024, and finally there is a full featured, full speed emulator that runs on the 3DS, that runs that back catalogue of Virtual Boy games, and of course modern homebrew and everything else - and I thought we’d take a look at it in this video. I mean, it’s not a console I really know much about, or have much experience of.

I had the DS Lite back in the day when that was current but never moved on to the 3DS - and the 3D screen is actually seriously impressive. Not that I can show that off on camera, of course, but hey, let’s check out this emulator and check out some of these games. So just checking out the GitHub page for Red Viper, which seems to be released by Skyflugel - fantastic name! - it says:

“A Virtual Boy emulator for the Nintendo 3DS, continuing mrdanielp’s work on R3DDragon, which itself is based on Reality Boy / Red Dragon. It uses a dynamic recompiler with busywait detection and hardware accelerated renderer to achieve high performance on the 3DS’s limited hardware.”

And yes, quite an impressive list of features here - so all officially licensed games are playable at full speed - even on the original 3DS - of course the later models of 3DS had slightly faster CPUs and were slightly more capable.

3D support - of course - that’s the entire point of it.

Game saves are supported, and you can remap the buttons, because the Virtual Boy had quite a weird control scheme with 2 D-pads.

Supports the C-Stick on the new 3DS, which is - I think that’s what I’ve got here, it’s like the thumbstick thing.

Configurable colour filters and all of that, if the red gives you a headache, which it quite famously did back in the day - and they’ve obviously got some future plans for this as well so they’re going to be adding save states, homebrew support, CirclePad Pro support, and all of that stuff.

But anyway - let’s get this installed and then get some games copied across to it and check it out!

So, very easy to install this on a modded 3DS - Just go to the GitHub page, which of course I will link in the usual places.

Please excuse my absolutely filthy laptop here - and you basically scroll down to the usage section…

You can install it using something called Universal Updater, which I don’t really have much experience of. But it says if you still have FBI you can scan this QR code with it - and you click on that, and then the QR code pops up.

FBI is something that I’ve used to install some bits and bobs on here, and I’ve still got that application. So we’ll just fire that up.

My 3DS is actually all in all in Japanese - I haven’t bothered modding the language on it, but once you fire up the apps and the games and things, you can choose English as your language.

Right, so how do we install… Remote Install?


Ah, or you can actually manually download it as a .3DSX file, which can be loaded with Homebrew Launcher. Or a CIA file, which is obviously why they’ve called this “FBI”, because it installs CI- I don’t know.

So, TWL Photo, is that it? No…

How do we do this?

A little longer than a few minutes later…

Remote install.

Here we go!

So, we’ve got an option here for “Scan QR code”, so we’ll select that…

“Waiting for QR code”

…and we’ll see if we can…

…if it can recognize that.


So yep, there we go, we can see that we’ve got the URL of the CIA file there.

“Install from scanned QR code?”


…and then that will just download it. I’ve already been through and connected this to the WiFi here at the studio - and then we should be able to launch it just like any other app.

Of course you’ll also need the Virtual Boy ROMs to run on this, which I will now have to copy to the SD card - of course the 3DS has just a bog-standard SD card slot, so that’s easy enough - and then we can switch back and quit out of this.

There we go.

So as mentioned, we’ve got Red Viper here just installed on the Dashboard or whatever you call it and you can just fire that up from the usual menu.

It just takes a second to load up and as you can see it’s this wonderful red colour just like the original Virtual Boy was - quite iconic for its headache-inducing red visuals, which of course you couldn’t change because the display itself was actually red, but thankfully, with the miracle of modern technology, we can actually go in here and we can change the colour mode, and there are two default ones, which are red - of course, the original - and grey, which looks really nice for some of the games, but we’ll stick with red for now, and just kind of show it off as it was intended, and we will check out some other colours a bit later on.

You can change how the 3D mode works - so the way the 3DS works, if you’re not familiar with it, is you can switch the 3D effect off completely using this slider on the side, and you can actually alter the intensity of that.

Of course, having 3D enabled isn’t going to work on camera, so I’m going to have to be testing these games with it switched off most of the time - I will of course check some of these games out in proper 3D and give you my thoughts, but of course it’s going to be quite difficult to actually convey that on camera.

Just a few other options: obviously you’ve got your credits here - by Flugel, danielps and others, so that’s nice. You’ve got performance info you can turn on, so I guess that’s like frame rate and stuff like that, which we’re not really interested in.

And of course you can remap the controls as well because the Virtual Boy had a really weird control scheme, where it basically had two D-pads and then the buttons were separate to that - and it kind of somewhat maps to the 3DS OK, but obviously you can tweak that per game as well, which is really nice, really cool to have that option there.

So if we just go into the “Load ROM” screen, these are just in a folder on that SD card, of course, as mentioned, I just copied them straight across and it can just load them up. So one of the first games that I wanted to check out is called “Virtual Boy Wario Land”. If you’re familiar with the Mario series, of course Wario is like Mario’s evil cousin or whatever he is and one of my absolute favourite games on the Game Boy.

So I had an original Game Boy as a kid and I had Wario Land and a few other games and I must have played that game through so many times. It is an absolutely brilliant game and I’ve heard very good things about it on the Virtual Boy as well. So I think I’m going to fire that up as my first example just to show off what this can do and yeah, let’s check out Wario Land.

So we’ve got a bit of a bit of a disclaimer at the beginning: use precaution, booklets… and the Virtual Boy boot screen - and it’s got this automatic pause mode. I’ve noticed all of the games actually ask this question, and I think on the original console, I think if you kind of moved your head away from it, it could pause the game automatically, like if you felt sick, or you were having a migraine, or obviously that doesn’t really apply here, but every game kind of prompts you for that.

Let’s go through. I’ve got the volume turned up really high - so apologies if that does annoy people or end up drowning me out - and the cool thing about this kind of intro opening sequence is all this parallax stuff. I mean, I’ve got the 3D off at the minute and I can’t really demonstrate this to you on camera, but this is really, really effective: the “Virtual Boy” bit’s kind of in front of the “Wario Land”, we’ve got Wario in his little plane flying in front of everything else - and all these layers in the background are all on different planes on different layers in 3D. It does look really, really cool. So they’ve done a great job with that.

I’m going to turn it off just for the benefit of the camera - and here we go - and as you’ll see in this game, the gameplay itself also uses the 3D to great effect - and you don’t actually need 3D enabled to be able to demo that.

If you’ve ever played a Mario game, this will look familiar to you, and of course, if you’ve ever played a Wario game, it will look even more familiar.

So nice big sprites - we’ve got these things swinging towards and away from the screen, of course you don’t want to get hit by those. Really effective, really really cool looking.

So, I’m just going to pause this and just change the colour, just because I think the grey comes across a bit better on camera just before I show you this feature because this is really cool. So this is something that really does take advantage of the 3D nature of this console, but of course it actually works in 2D as well which is awesome.

So you have these little jump platforms here and basically you can press the button and it launches you into the actual background of the game and so you’re on multiple levels here in 3 dimensions - and it’s just really nice, obviously Nintendo, always really good at taking advantage of some of the unique hardware features of their consoles and yeah, the Virtual Boy being 3D, they took advantage of that.

I was distracted a second ago - I managed to get hit by one of the enemies - so I’ve turned into little Wario and I can’t actually get in and get into this secret room, but anyway, the show must go on. I’ve actually played this quite a bit now, and it is just a classic - let’s just pause this - classic Wario Land game, highly recommended on the Virtual Boy. It plays really well even without even without the 3D enabled so if you can get hold of a Virtual Boy emulator and you’re a fan of the Mario series and the Wario series and platformers and that kind of stuff, well worth checking out.

But let’s move on to another game.

So for this one I’m going to change the colour mode - you can pick any colour you like - and as you can see that changes in real time, which is really cool.

I want to change it to, I want to change it to like a minty bluey colour - like a turquoisey colour - just reminiscent of the ocean, maybe.

Does that come across there on camera? I think it does - and the reason for that is we’re going to play the best ocean-themed game available on the Virtual Boy, which of course is Waterworld - and this is actually an officially licensed game of the movie Waterworld, which I’m sure we all remember very fondly.

Of course, I think it was famous at the time for being one of the most expensive films ever made - was it Kevin Costner in the lead role?

And it was just…

I mean it was just a terrible film, and I’ve heard - I’m actually looking at an article on Nintendo Life on my laptop here, which is what I’m using for inspiration for some of these games, and apparently this is pretty much the worst game on the Virtual Boy so of course I had to check it out!

Evidently it lives up to the reputation of the film.

I’m sure I’ve probably offended some Waterworld fans in the audience…

…and yeah, I had a quick go on this a minute ago, and I really can’t work this out at all. So the music is actually kind of okay-ish, but essentially What happens is you’re controlling this boat - the game just starts, there’s no explanation or anything else - and there’s these guys on jet skis that chase you around, and if one of them touches you, you die, basically?

We’ve got these weird, odd structures in the middle of the ocean and there’s loads of people just kind of swimming around - and I think the idea is to try to rescue the people that are swimming, and pick them up.

But yeah, this is kind of almost impossible to control.

Makes no sense whatsoever as to what you’re actually supposed to do.

And yeah, it’s all just kind of floating in the middle of nowhere so I don’t really get it.

But we’ll enable the 3D and I’ll try to give you my impressions - what’s this?


Yeah, no, even in 3D that’s just rubbish.

But the music’s kind of okay, I guess!

Yeah, so if you’re checking out the the Virtual Boy’s back catalogue via an emulator or indeed on your 3DS via Red Viper maybe give this one a miss, or maybe check it out for curiosity’s sake, but I have absolutely no idea what’s going on here.

Yeah, let’s move on to something else.

So, I have heard nothing but good things about this game - this is Mario’s Tennis on the Virtual Boy, of course. It makes really, really good use of the 3D, and it’s just your basic, straightforward back and forth tennis game, as you might expect from the name, but I had a quick play with this and I really enjoyed this, so I’m going to be Toad, and we’ll choose Donkey Kong Jr. for the computer player, and so now you get to see how terrible I am at tennis games.

Of course I will switch the 3D on - I’ll have it on relatively low this time - and this game makes really good use of the 3D, like I mentioned a second ago, you can really see the ball kind of flying backwards and forwards - and I imagine in 1995, just seeing a game like this in 3 dimensions, with the stuff kind of flying towards your face would have been quite impressive.

I mean graphically it’s quite a capable system just besides the 3D aspect of it - you’ve got these lovely big detailed sprites, it’s nice and smooth and it’s Nintendo Nintendo quality as you might expect.

So let’s just check out one more game before we wrap things up and I’ve heard good things about this just looking at this Nintendo Life article as well and it’s their number 4 recommended game on the Virtual Boy and it’s called Red Alarm.

Now I’ve not actually played this one yet - I did have a quick play with this a minute ago and check out a few of the games, but I haven’t checked out Red Alarm yet so I’m quite interested to have a look at this and see what it’s all about - and I’m sure you’ll see why shortly, at least based on the screenshots that I’ve seen.

So this is apparently an on-rails wireframe shooter?

Oh wow!

So I was expecting kind of like Battlezone kind of graphics, I guess…

…so we can go backwards and forwards…


Yes, this game would have used both d-pads and of course the two buttons back in the day, and that means that we can actually have a play with the shoulder buttons for the first time, which is quite awkward with it being flat on the desk like this, but it does work.


Again, just playing this with the 3D effect actually switched on and it’s really good, this is really effective, I quite enjoy this, quite a lot, and if I was actually holding the 3DS properly I imagine it would be a lot more fun, but yeah, this is such a great game. I’ve never played anything like this in 3D before.

I imagine this would have been absolutely stunning back in 1995.

Yeah, really cool, the screen looks absolutely fantastic, no performance issues at all that I’ve come across, really, really effective use of the, the 3D screen and stuff on the 3DS. So if you’ve got one of these things lying around gathering dust somewhere I would definitely dig it out and get it all jailbroken and get the homebrew stuff on there and check out Red Viper.

Of course, if you have a VR headset thing like an Oculus Rift or anything like that, there are emulators for this available, which are apparently also very good. So yeah, the Virtual Boy - definitely a back catalogue that I’m looking forward to checking out now and not a console that was previously on my radar.

But anyway, that’s a few of the games and just my initial impressions of them and of the emulator - really really good stuff.

So yeah, let’s do the outro!

So thanks very much for watching, I hope you learned a thing or two about the old Virtual Boy catalogue and about the 3DS - I know I certainly did, it’s certainly something that I really didn’t know much about going into this - so I’ve had a lot of fun checking it out.

Of course, don’t forget to like the video and subscribe to the channel - this is my second channel, the main channel’s over on ctrl-alt-rees which of course I will link in the usual places. Thank you ever so much for watching, and that’s it, Red Viper on the 3DS.

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