Which Virtual Boy Games Did George Costanza Own?

I’ve been rewatching Seinfeld, and having grown up with it in syndication, it’s strange to be finally seeing it at nearly the same age as the characters. I’ve started to recognize myself in their little quirks, their squabbles, their quiet triumphs. Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer are all people who, over and over again, make bad decisions and suffer the consequences. And perhaps no detail in Seinfeld is more emblematic of this than the fact that George owned a Virtual Boy.

By now, you probably know this — Nintendo’s failed experimental console appears in George’s apartment in the season 8 premiere, “The Foundation.” While it was likely shot well in advance, the episode aired in fall 1996, months after Nintendo discontinued the Virtual Boy in March — less than a year out from its initial release. The question is: which games did George pick up before the Virtual Boy’s figurative plug was pulled? Here are all fourteen Virtual Boy games released in North America, along with my assessments as to the likelihood that they found themselves in George’s collection.

3D Tetris

An awkward, slow adaptation of the classic puzzle game, 3D Tetris was critically panned and released exclusively in North America.

George’s Take: “It’s Tetris, Jerry! In 3D! I tell ya, I’m done with two lousy dimensions. From here on out, it’s three all the way, baby!”

Did He Own It? Yes, and insisted that it was better than Tetris on the Game Boy.

Galactic Pinball

Galactic Pinball

Pinball, but in space. There’s not much that’s “virtual” about it, since you’re just looking at a pinball table like you would in any other pinball title. I’ll take 3D Pinball Space Cadet any day.

George’s Take: “Pinball? We played pinball in high school. This is supposed to be the future? [snorts]”

Did He Own It? No. However, in attempting to answer this question, I did learn that Jason Alexander was slated to be in a TV series called Pinball Wizards back in 2016, which seems to have disappeared into the mists of time — much like the Virtual Boy.

Golf

It’s golf on the Virtual Boy. The Virtual Boy only displays games in red and black, so it kind of looks like you’re golfing in hell.

George’s Take: “Listen, Kramer, red is the only color it can do! You want to see green grass, you go outside!”

Did He Own It? Yes.

Jack Bros.

A spin-off of Atlus’s Shin Megami Tensei series, this top-down action game has players take on the role of one of the three titular brothers — Jack Frost, Jack Lantern, or Jack Skelton. Actually pretty good for what it is, but suffers from being a Virtual Boy game.

George’s Take: “Ma, it’s not about summoning demons! You play as the demons!”

Did He Own It? Yes, but he never got past the first level.

Mario Clash

Mario Clash

Take the original Mario Bros. (no, not the NES game, the single-screen arcade title) and make it a lot worse to look at, then add the requisite perspective-shifting of a first-party Virtual Boy game. That’s Mario Clash.

George’s Take: “I never got that guy, Mario. What’s his deal? He hates turtles or something? What kind of maniac goes around jumping on turtles?”

Did He Own It? No.

Mario’s Tennis

Predating Mario Tennis by several years, this is… well, it’s tennis. Not first-person, but I guess tennis makes sense as a demonstration of the depth-simulating capabilities of the Virtual Boy. In theory, anyway,

George’s Take: “Jerry, it’s just as good as going down to the club! It’s tennis in 3D!”

Jerry: “You know, real life is in 3D too.”

George: “Not like this it isn’t!”

Did He Own It? Yes, and got sweaty from playing it.

Nester’s Funky Bowling

The only game that forgotten Nintendo Power mascot Nester ever starred in isn’t much to write home about. You can’t even play as Howard, the other character from the old Nintendo Power comics — you’re stuck with Nester, or his sister, “Hester.”

George’s Take: “What’s so funky about it? Pfft. It’s bowling.”

Did He Own It? No.

Panic Bomber

Panic Bomber

An entry in the console-spanning Panic Bomber action puzzle series based on Bomberman, Panic Bomber on the Virtual Boy could have been a fun multiplayer game. The only problem? The Virtual Boy link cable was never released.

George’s Take: “I couldn’t expense a game called Panic Bomber… Steinbrenner would have thought I was calling in a bomb threat.”

Did He Own It? No, and if you asked him who “Bomberman” is, he would probably think you were talking about Ted Kaczynski.

Red Alarm

Picture Star Fox for the Super Nintendo, only everything is wire-frame models, the only colors are red and black, and there are no cute animal characters. That’s Red Alarm.

George’s Take: Red Alarm, that sounds so stressful. What do I need stress for? I’m trying to relax over here.”

Did He Own It? No.

Teleroboxer

One of the few first-person perspective Virtual Boy games, Teleroboxer is like Punch-Out with robots. Kind of neat, actually.

George’s Take: “Finally, all that time playing Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots pays off!”

Did He Own It? Yes, and likely missed a date trying to beat one of the later opponents.

Vertical Force

A scrolling shooter with some basic 3D effects where the ship dives and climbs, Vertical Force is basically a worse version of developer Hudson Soft’s Star Soldier.

George’s Take: “Is this thing calling me short?”

Did He Own It? No.

Virtual Boy Wario Land

Virtual Boy Wario Land

One of the few genuinely good Virtual Boy games, Virtual Boy Wario Land is the closest thing to a traditional Mario platformer on the console. It’s still worth playing today, albeit on an emulator that won’t give you eye strain.

George’s Take: “I like this guy. I don’t know why. Just… something about him. Do you think I should grow a mustache?”

Did He Own It? Yes.

Virtual League Baseball

I’m just going to quote the Wikipedia page for Virtual League Baseball here: “A playable version of the game was displayed at Electronic Entertainment Expo 1995. At the time, the coding was so broken that it was impossible for the player to hit the ball. Promotion for the game was further hurt by its infamous ‘chili dog farts’ print advertisement which was centered on a photo of two obese men exposing their butt cracks.”

George’s Take: “This is it. Twenty years from now, everyone’s going to be playing virtual baseball. You mark my words. For once in my life, I’m on the cutting edge, Jerry!”

Jerry’s Take: “Oh, you’re on the edge alright.”

Did He Own It? Yes. In fact, it seems likely that George might have paid for it — and his Virtual Boy — by abusing his Yankees expense account.

Waterworld

The biggest cinematic disaster of 1995 and the biggest blunder in Nintendo’s history — Waterworld on the Virtual Boy is a beautiful, unlikely match that should never have come into being. At least the SNES version of Waterworld had a sick soundtrack, as well as, you know, the color blue.

George’s Take: [Waterworld does not exist in the Seinfeld universe.]

Did He Own It? No, but he would have if it were possible.

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