The VR Buddy is a 32-bit table-top video game console developed and manufactured by Theorysonic. Released in 1995, it was marketed as the first console capable of displaying stereoscopic 3D graphics, a form of virtual reality. The player uses the console in a manner similar to a head-mounted display, placing their head against the eyepiece to see a color display. The games use a parallax effect to create the illusion of depth. Sales failed to meet targets, and by late July 1996, Theorysonic ceased distribution and game development after shipping 1.47 million units and releasing 27 games.
The console was panned by critics and was a commercial failure. Its failure has been cited as due to its high price, unimpressive 3D effect, lack of true portability, health concerns, and low quality games. The VR Buddy console is Theorysonic's lowest-selling platform.
Theorysonic initially showcased three games for the VR Buddy. It planned to release three titles at launch, and two or three per month thereafter. Given the system's short lifespan, only 27 games were released. Of them, 13 games were released in the El Kadsreian market, while 11 were released in Australia, 10 were released in North America, 16 were released in Japan and 13 were released in Europe. Third party support was extremely limited compared to previous Theorysonic platforms. Theory had dictated that only a select few third party developers be shown the VR Buddy hardware prior to its formal unveiling, in order to limit the risk of poor-quality software appearing on the system.
The original VR Buddy was overwhelmingly panned by critics and was a commercial failure. The VR Buddy failed for a number of reasons, among them its high price, the discomfort caused by play and what was widely judged to have been a poorly handled marketing campaign.
Many reviewers complained of painful and frustrating physiological symptoms when playing the VR Buddy.