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RIP TOYS R US - I LOVE THE VIRTUAL BOY

RIP TOYS "R" US/

I LOVE THE VIRTUAL BOY.


A picture of me, a buddy of mine drew for this memory. He used to work at IDW, and was friends with the creators of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He  has really cool stories and an amazing retro collection even for living abroad here in China.
 Shout out to Kris SegaKabukiman




     
   Cable wasnt used to this. Stalking his prey that is. It annoyed him to no end. He was a man of many things, but being patient was't one of them. He'd just as soon lob a grenade at their faces and be over with it. But today, today was different. The fate of the world, Nay the galaxy, hung in the balance.
 If he wasn't able to ascertain the Location of Mumm-Ra's Tomb Fortress, Mission objective number one, and neutralize Skeletors witch of a girlfriend before she stepped into the transformation chamber, mission objective number two, all hope would be lost.
          Cable inhaled deep and held his breath. Being completely submerged in a giant bucket of rice, he lay in wait for his prey. They were close, he could hear them talking incessantly as they approached. "Does this hag ever shut her yapper?" Cable muttered to himself.



As Evil-Lyn and Mumm-Ra waded thru the giant rice bucket they had no inkling that a predator lies in wait just below the surface.
“I'm growing impatient Mumm-Ra! Where is this castle you speak of? I want these ancient powers of evil for myself so I, EVIL-LYN, can finally take command of Snake Mountain and once and for all usurp that bumbling buffoon Skeletor's leadership!


 
”Oh, you will. Trust me, you will find it and it will unlock all of your wildest dreams, my dear.” Snarled Mumm-Ra Caustically." Have patience My Child, what you seek is almost within your grasp."
"For your sake I hope you are right.: Evil-Lyn Snapped.
Just a little Further." Mumm-Ra grinned as he snuck a look over his shoulder at his surroundings. 


        
 Cable stealthily moved his fingers off of the trigger of his fusion pulse rifle down to triple check the safety mechanism.
FIRE position engaged.
Gritting his teeth, Cable gripped his beloved rifle with all his might, muscles tense.
"Time to meet your maker." 



The 1st Xmen action figure I ever received
Everything felt like it was happening in slow motion.
The Mutant rose from the rice, guns blazing, hot lead bullet casings went flying in all directions, mixing with the grains down below.
   Evil-Lyn turned around just in time to catch hot lead to the side of her yellow face.
She fell and went absolutely still.


HUUUURR DUUUR IM YELLURRR

Mumm-Ra, on the other hand, had noticed they were being tracked days ago and was completely ready for the ambush, dashing to the side of the giant rice container and jumping down to the ground his burial wraps whipping up around him as he fell into a roll. In front of him was a giant green garden hose, the size of a derailed train coiled up like a snake between two skyscraper sized garbage cans, one brown and the other blue with a recycle sign emblazoned on the side. To his left, he saw his crypt.


and the massive Thundercats lair out across the distant plains of grass, dwarfed only by the massive maple tree towering over it.

One of the coolest toys ever. My mom tragically donated it to charity one winter without consent.


I know I keep showing pre transformed Mum-Ra, but this is the one I had growing up. Got em from a thrift store when I was just a lad.

“Ok, now let's say Mum-ra recruits swamp thing,



slush head,



and these two Xmen toys mom bought from the Blue light special at K-mart yesterday,” Nick said

“ No, let's make these two good guys.” Jeremy protested.

As the boys argued next to the giant bin full of rice and action figures, a 5th grader came around the side of the house to the backyard to join them.

That 5th grader, and resident of the house they were playing outside of, was me.


"Hey guys, my mom just got back from the grocery store, what do you guys want? She got Squeeze-Its and Ecto Cooler." I said, as I handed the Ecto to Jeremy's outstretched hand.



and the Squeeze it's to Nick.



“So my mom just told me she has to return some things to Z.C.M.I. department store and wanted to know if we wanna roll with her, She said we can swing by Toys "R" Us on the way."



Jeremy and Nick looked at each other, communicating their displeasure with just a look. “Uhhh we will go ask our mom,” Jeremy said reluctantly. “Yeah give us a second, we will let you know .” Nick reiterated.



My friends Jeremy and Nick wearing their Power Rangers Costumes

“Come on fellas, my mom’s driving isn't THAAAAT bad.” I dishonestly hollered after them, as they ran home across the street.
Sighing, I turned around slumped shouldered and entered my house.
“Honey, you got some mail, it's on the landing!” My mom yelled, as I slammed the front door.

I reached up on the landing and pulled down this month's issue of Boys Life Magazine



and a Lego Mania Magazine that I had paid a year subscription for, 3 years ago, that just seemed to keep coming.



“Honey, we will be leaving in about 5 minutes, so call your friends to see if they are coming."

I slumped down into my dad's La-Z-Boy and picked up the corded house phone, flipping on the 30 inch Sony CRT in front of me. Rocko's Modern life?



"Ugh, I hate this show." I thought, as I flipped to The Sci-Fi Channel. Today was Saturday after all. Time for some awesome Japanimation movies!
I dialed the number, as I watched 2 school girls beat each other to a bloody pulp with Giant robots outside of their High School, on the screen in front of me. 



“Hey Jeremy, you guys coming?" I asked, making a mental note to find out what this amazing Japanimation was, and to check out Hollywood video, to see if they had a copy.
"No man, my mom got us Sunset Riders for Super Nintendo. It's soooo fun man, you gotta come play when you get back."



I frowned. Up until this point in 1996, The only video game consoles I possessed were the NES and the Gameboy. I was always jealous of all my neighbors with Super Nintendos and hated all the Sega Genesis kids. I talk about this in great detail here.

https://youtu.be/dQyoObM4CHE

 I already have several Retro Junkers as subs, and they seem to get a kick out of it, as it's inspiration comes directly from this wonderful site.


I hung up the phone as my mom called me down to the car.
"DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL, WE WILL RETURN TO PROJECT AKO, ONLY ON THE SCI-FI CHANNEL."



"Gotcha." I thought, as I threw my Mighty Morphin Power Rangers sweatshirt on and ran down the stairs, and out the front door.

As we rolled up to Toys"R"Us, I jumped out of the car, violently vomiting, Head spinning in circles.
My mom does this thing while she drives, where she stomps on the gas, then lets her foot all the way off, then stomps, then off, then stomps, then off, the entire time she is driving.
My father and I have never been in a car accident before.
My mom, on the other hand, invented car accidents.
Just a week or so back, she was spinning out on the freeway somewhere in Texas. (I Live in China, near Hong Kong now, and they live in Utah in my childhood house, so I see my moms driving escapades take place on Facebook.)



This was a dark time for me. Because of some hand-me-downs from my cousin Matt, I had grown to like G.I.Joe A Real American Hero over everything else on planet Earth.



My Christmas loot 1992.

       Unfortunately, at this point in time, Joe was completely discontinued, and we didn't think we would ever see it again. Same with Transformers, Masters of the Universe, and Thundercats. I would always go right to the back of Toys"R"Us where the Joe's used to reside, to see if just by some magic, they had returned.



Once in a while, I would get a pleasant surprise with G.I.Joe SGT SAVAGE toys, complete with a packed in VHS tape of the lame pilot episode that failed so hard it was never picked up. Or the even worse G.I.Joe Extreme, all of which were major disappointments. You see, widespread Internet usage wouldn't be the norm for a while, so how the hell was I supposed to know where G.I.Joe went and why? All I knew was that a few years prior there were G.I.Joes everywhere that I took for granted, and now they were gone. After scoping out some Mighty Max toys my buddy told me about, (Didn't get the appeal),



Little KodaK on Christmas morning 1994. The last year of G.I.Joe being available. I had no idea of the dark times to come.

I wandered over to the game aisle. I was staunchly anti-Sega on the playground. Like with religious fervor. This, of course, taking place during the great console wars of the 1990's. But even this being said, I would sometimes guiltily sneak some Sega playing at Toys"R"Us just for fun. The games on demo today were Vectorman and Comixzone.
I walked up and down the game aisle wishing I had a 16-bit console, also wishing that they still released games for the NES. As I was about to leave, that's when it caught my eye. 



"Why are all the Virtual Boys out of the glass cases?" I thought to my self-observing Virtual boys along the entirety of the bottom shelves on both sides of the video game aisle.
"Well, weird." I thought to myself.
As I turned to leave, an impossible sight caught my eye. I turned back, and cast my gaze upon the price tags listed below the shelves.
29.99, 29.99, 29.99!!!!



Now, the Virtual boy was infamously, red, annoying, and arguably extremely overpriced, clocking in at 179.99. Making it more than its other contemporaries, the GameBoy and the SNES.
However, even with its annoying red screen and uncomfortable interface, I used to think it was really kind of cool. I had spent countless trips playing a vector graphics first-person space shooter on the demo unit at this very Toys "R" Us. The game in question was called Red Alarm. I actually thought it was kinda different and fun. A video rental store called Goodtime Video that my parents frequented, also had a demo unit inside with Mario Tennis. Which in retrospect, I would have to say is my favorite tennis game of all time.



"MOOOOOOOOOM!" I Screamed, as I ran around the store. Finally finding her near the front, receiving a terrible driver award from the Women and Asian Drivers Association.



(2018 Required Joke Disclaimer)
This joke is my tongue being placed firmly in my cheek.
I Live in China as I type this ,and to be perfectly honest, these guys are the best drivers I have ever seen in my life.  Everyone runs red lights, stop signs, drives on the wrong side of the road, and I have witnessed maybe 1 accident a year. Meanwhile when it snows state side, I see about 25 on the way to work. And the only reason anyone ever stereotyped women as bad drivers if you look in the history books, it was all thanks to my mom. I am sorry guys,  the truth was, it was just one lady from Texas with driving skills so infinitesimally abysmal that she took down an ENTIRE GENDER in her wake. For that, I apologize. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

"Mom, thank goodness I found you, and after winning a major award you worked so hard for! I assume you have got to be in a good mood. Mom, I found a Virtual Boy, which is a video game system I have always wanted since the day I was born. Remember?" (I lied) "It's only 30 bucks down from 400," ( I lied again). "Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahleeeeease get it for me! I don't need a birthday present, nothing, just get me this. In fact, we never have to have a birthday again! Pleeeeeeeeease!"

To my utter disbelief, she flat out said no! My mom was usually reasonable if there was savings involved. I could usually bargain with her, but this time it was impossible. She was in a really bad mood. I quietly cried and vomited the whole drive home.

"This is the best deal of my entire life. How am I gonna get it?" I thought to myself as we pulled into the parking lot of Hollywood Video. "Either my dad will help me or I will go door to door and wash cars, or weed, or mow lawns, whatever it takes to get that," I promised my now determined self as I pulled a Project AKO VHS tape off the shelf. I brought it to the front of the store where my mom was waiting with some Woody Allen movies and Malcolm X films she rented so much, she could have owned them a thousand times over.



"Dad... My dad will hook it up." I assured myself.

I knew my Dad would understand when I got home.

Much to my shock and chagrin,
He didn't.
"You have a GameBoy and a Nintendo, what do you need another game thing for?"
"DAD IT'S ONLY 30 BONES! It'd be so awesome! You have got to help me get it!"
My Dad also refused. But I was committed and I was determined.

I went into the cleaning closet grabbed a bucket, some Windex, some other cleaning supplies and burst out my front door.
I had to get some cash. I went door to door offering car washes to all of my neighbors. 5 bucks a pop. I think I got 3 people from my whole hood to oblige. My buddy Benaveed's parents even let me wash both their cars so I walked away with 10 bucks.


Benaveed and I in the 90's

We had gone to Toys"R"Us very early in the morning. So I had most of the day ahead of me. I made about 15 dollars washing cars. I came home feeling defeated. My dad asked me if I had tried the giant house down the street. It was an out of the way house that was kinda hard to get to. It belonged to a guy named Mr. Shock, who went to the same church as us. I had totally forgotten. I zoomed out the door while my dad was still talking and ran down to Mr. Shocks house. I knocked on the door.

Mr. Shock was a really kind older gentleman, with lots of kids and grandkids that were always visiting. Ever since I could remember he always made me feel welcome whether at church, around town or just waving to me when I passed on my way to school.
He opened the door with a warm smile. “Well, If it isn’t Michael Cameron. What brings you over to my neck of the woods? Come in, come in. Mrs. Shock, would you look who came to visit? Mike Cameron is here! Could you get em some hot chocolate my dear and come visit!” exclaimed Mr. Shock.
I explained to him my desperate life or death plight to earn 45 dollars by any means necessary. 30 for the Virtual Boy and a few extra bones for some Red Alarm action.



"Well, I just got back from the car wash so there's no need for that but if you weed my crops and rake up all my leaves, I will give you the rest of the money you need and then some." replied my new royal benefactor.

"Awesome, easy money." I thought to myself.

These thoughts soon changed to abject horror as Mr. Shock led me to his backyard. His backyard was the biggest in the neighborhood. Going on and on and on behind like, 3 blocks of houses, in our neighborhood. He had the most property by far. Complete with a small barn and horses grazing in a field. He showed me the garden that I was to weed.



Took me like 4 hours. He sat me down and shared some gross tasting vegetable called kohlrabi or something. I choked it down to be polite, but no wonder I had never heard of it before or since. I even had to look up the spelling because no one on earth should ever eat that ever. But I loved Mr. Shock so I smiled and said. "mmm what is that?" as my stomach did a kick flip, board side, varial.

 Next, I had to rake all the leaves from his yard.



His yard bordered the back of our neighborhood and on the flip-side, bordered my elementary school field.
The barrier between was a fence and like, 12 of the biggest trees in our city. All of which had just shed all their leaves, all over his yard. After about 450 bags of leaves, 



I had finished it. At least as best I could since it was now night. I thanked Mr. Shock profusely, and he told me if I ever needed work to come back and he would find something for me to do. I was so thankful.
 
       I ran home, cash in hand. But to my severe disappointment, my parents refused to drive all the way to Orem, a place like 3 cities over from where I lived, saying it was too late. I had to wait an entire night to get my grubby mitts on the Virtual Boy.

After a sleepless night, we rolled to Toys"R"Us to claim my rightful inheritance. Running down into my room, I flipped the box that held the Virtual Boy on its back and scoped out the art.



I remember, there was a commercial on the box for a game that never materialized called Wario Cruise. I opened the box and ripped out the Virtual Boy. I put the headset on the awkward stand that always breaks (mine did), plugged the controller into the headset


.

Wait, uhhhh... I picked up the box and shook it. Where the Fox Mcloud is the AC adapter? There is just a battery pack?!
I searched everything!
Nowhere to be found. But wait, it gets crazier. Get this! Poorest planning for this system ever. I got on the horn with Toys"R"Us to inform them that they had shorted me an AC adapter. I found out to my shock that not only did they not come with AC adapters. Stores actually didn’t carry them. ANYWHERE! The only way to get one was to buy one from Nintendos 800 number. I couldn’t believe my ears. And bro! If you think those 6 'AA' batteries had a short lifespan in your Game Gear... BRO, you cant imagine the Virtual Boys battery life. Like, 5 minutes or something. Really, why tf didn’t this come with an AC adapter?
I had tons of fun with my VB. Like, I really, really enjoyed it. I would play it for hours and hours. Never got a headache. I just adored the thing. I searched every nook and cranny of Red Alarm, even finding secret rooms with crude vector graphic renderings of the Virtual Boy and controller, itself, inside.



I ended up buying almost every game ever released for it.


As you can see here, I am a wannabe photographer that only shoots the sexiest super models.


My actual Virtual Boy Collection above.

       I even made a space simulator in my house out of a giant cardboard box and put the Virtual Boy in the wall of it, with Red Alarm to simulate space battles. Too many good memories to count. Buying 100 batteries for the 2-day trip from Utah to Texas, and playing loads of Wario Land and Red Alarm in the backseat even though every single warning about the VB ever said, never to play it in a moving vehicle. Just stacked up three pillows and leaned my head forward in it and played the whole journey there and back. Loving every last bit. All in all no matter how much hate was leveled at this console, I could never bring myself to feel anything but love for it. Sure it wasn't really VR, or portable. Sure it ate batteries like a Snorlax in the Orange Islands, but in its own way, it was charming

 I love the Virtual Boy!




     
EPILOGUE
 
So wow guys, I guess I didn't get the memo. I mean I had noticed that RetroJunk.com's quality and frequency of articles had been going downhill, but dang. When I submitted this article it was crickets chirping compared to what it was back in 09.

I wondered what happened until I came across VKIMO's excellent article about RetroJunk memories. (Woah meta.)
I am so glad that this website exists. RJ was literally my favorite site on the web, even with all its bugs and archaic design. I have read every article on the site even the backpage ones. I am turbo ultra Megazord excited to dive into all the articles here and am already seeing some familiar faces.
So many things I had forgotten about, I rediscovered on RJ, and am betting the same will ring true here.
Shout out to the admin of the site for learning coding techniques past 1996!
BRAVO.

              One of the main reasons I think I was out of the loop, was, I had gone on to create a YouTube Channel, which I even describe as basically Retro Junk articles in video form. I don't make any money and have a low sub count just a year in. It is purely an intense labor of love with some video's taking over 80 hours plus with all the special effects and silly things I recall. I spend hours scouring the internet trying to find relics from our childhoods. My Power Rangers episode I literally CGI'd Zords fighting thru my Chinese city of Shenzhen, while my son and I looked on. I include things like my voice acting in video games and cartoons in China, A ton of my personal memories, retro gaming conventions in Hong Kong, raising my kids up on only 80's and 90's cartoons, comics, movies, toys, and games.  Hell, I have raised my son so nerdcore that last year he won the Hong Kong Poke'mon Championship 1st place. So proud.





I have interviewed CEO's of big gaming companies on RETRO.HK's Channel which was a privilege and an honor, been featured in the local news, and even have teamed up with the biggest foreign YouTubers in Asia, Like SerpentZA and Laowhy86, with the former, picking his brain for retro memories and such. But although I started making videos, my true passion lies in writing. I am super happy this site exists, and look forward to reading and writing until my fingers fall off.

 

 
So yeah, If you guys feel so inclined, check me out at www.youtube.com/c/iremembergaming, either way, I want to thank you for reading my story.



Love you readers, and writers. I was devastated to hear the news of Toys "R"Us going under stateside, but super happy it still exists here in Asia. Unfortunately, the TRU's in China and Hong Kong are no match for their American counterparts as far as selection, but it's nice to have it still be around. And I am glad my kids got to enjoy the American version I grew up with in Orem Utah before its demise.
Long live Toys"R"Us! Hopefully, someday it returns to the States. Gonna miss that place.
Love you guys.
Sincerely
Kodak The Douche Of I Remember Gaming.


This Article is Dedicated to Duane Shock.

September 6, 1942 - July 8, 2016

In closing, I just wanted to take a quick moment to honor the man who made my Virtual Boy dreams come true, Mr. Duane Shock. I recently returned to America for a visit and learned the sad news of his passing. He was truly a great man and did a lot for me as a kid. I ended up coming over and doing lots of odd jobs for him over the years and when I saw his wife this Christmas, I informed her of my plan to write this article . She took a pause and looked away and when she looked back with tears in her eyes, she told me that he had loved me very much and had treasured the time we had spent all those years previous. She said she was looking forward to this article and I hope it finds her and their kids and grandkids well.  Reading his obituary, I realized just how good of a dude he was. I will never forget that man.

For an article that sucks and you should never read click here.
http://www.retrojunk.com/article/show/4698/lehi-roundup-vol-3-episode-one

For my 15 minutes of fame, click here.
http://www.eyeshenzhen.com/content/2017-02/15/content_15279946.htm


Scope out I Remember Gaming here!



And like I said this is a labor of love. I don't make any money from it, but if you like what you see let me know
here on RetroDaze and don't forget over on YouTube.






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Vaporman87 Posted on Apr 12, 2018 at 07:48 AM

No, but I did own Daedalus Encounter. LOL. Not even Tia Carrere could save that game.

kodakofiremembergaming Posted on Apr 12, 2018 at 05:17 AM

Vaporman did you own Plumbers Dont Wear Ties though?

kodakofiremembergaming Posted on Apr 11, 2018 at 08:15 PM

Oh twas you.
Really? Never came thru? That sucks. After I submitted the second version. The other draft just disappeared. The only place I could view it was my phone. Of course I left that phone in a taxi.

You know what I bet it was. It could have something to do with China's Great firewall. That thing always causes trouble. Its all good man, totally not your fault. I'd bet the farm on the great firewall if you didn't get the second one. You were probably like whats this guys talking about. ha. Cheers.

Vaporman87 Posted on Apr 11, 2018 at 07:32 PM

I assumed you meant this one KodaK, because it is the only one that came through to me. There were no other drafts to approve.

kodakofiremembergaming Posted on Apr 11, 2018 at 04:21 PM

So good to be back and see all the best writers of all time. We will be reminiscing till we are old and gray I reckon. WE better post up for the long haul. I apologize for the typos. I accidentally submitted the Rough draft. I even emailed the admin to let em know that the fixed version was sliding thru. He assured me he would not post the rough draft. Alas Behold the rough draft. But anyways no worries. Guys probably busy. Just glad it was coherent. Excited to write and read more more more.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Apr 11, 2018 at 05:04 AM

Wow, this was NLogan levels of information and pictures, but what a journey. The sadness over the demise of G.I. Joe to being one of the few in existence that loved the Virtual Boy with the help of Mr. Shock, very heartwarming. Glad to have you on the site now and look forward to more stories.

Benjanime Posted on Apr 11, 2018 at 01:45 AM

isn't there a switch on the virtual boy that changes the resolution so you have less of a chance of the image give you a headache? if it's true i might get one.

jkatz Posted on Apr 10, 2018 at 06:19 AM

Wow. What I wouldn't give to have your childhood.

Vaporman87 Posted on Apr 10, 2018 at 05:56 AM

This was an epic first submission KodaK. A lot to digest and fun to read. I can sympathize with you and your fascination with the Virtual Boy. I always thought the 3DO was a great system, but it is looked upon as a bit of a joke by pretty much everyone.

Also, that was a touching tribute to the man who helped you earn the cash to get that system. Well done sir.

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