In the mid ’90s, Nintendo created the Virtual Boy and it’s going to sound like I’m making it up if you haven’t heard of it. It was mounted on a little tripod at the height least likely to line up with a human face, which is what you put into it to play. It could only display two colors, and one of them is not one you would think. Also, it hurt. And like with all new video game technology, someone had the obvious and awesome idea– oh shit, with this we could take Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! to a whole new level.
And like it happens every time, this “whole new level” ended up being “worse, only also insane.” Let’s talk about Teleroboxer for the Nintendo Virtual Boy.
That cover is a 10/10. It’s a game about punching robots and the artist painted that so hard he didn’t leave enough room for the title. “Maybe the robot could be punching the logo right into the viewer’s fucking eye?” said a genius who gave perfect notes. But this does not represent the tone of the game. This robot looks like something Frank Miller’s Batman would build to punch-torture information out of Aquaman. But the actual game is more like Japanese producers adapting Frank Miller’s Pornhub searches into a kid’s show. I’ll explain, but first let’s adjust our Nintendo Virtual Boy Face Console IPD Game System.
At least the first three pages of every Virtual Boy game manual were delicate instructions on how to adjust the knobs and sliders to minimize headaches or seizures. That’s not important to this article, except to remind you Teleroboxer would have been played semi-nauseously as your brain and eyes disagreed on blurry shapes. If you’ve ever had an insect crawl into your ear while you realized you’ve failed again at making homemade binoculars, that’s Virtual Boy.
You may have already come up with this take on your own, but the name “Teleroboxer” fucking sucks. It’s no way to refer to a robot punching game. Teleroboxer is something Jeff Bezos would develop to replace your hometown’s factory workers. It’s at least two too many attempts at cute like calling Robocop “Robofficer CompuAndroidetective.” And I think they know, because the stupid word “teleroboxer” makes up at least 20% of all text in the manual. It’s as if they thought saying it over and over would make it work. It never does. “Teleroboxer” is a home office solution for your shipping needs. It’s an Esperanto word for underwear you found in a kitchen. It’s anything other than a first person mech kumite built out of blood-colored pixels.
The first enemy you face is a British man named Johnny who pilots a … let me see if I can describe his boxing robot. It has fish lips and a skull pried open to expose its brain. It has large entry holes on the nipples and handles on the sides of its head in case it needs to pull its own face off during a fight. Here, I’ll show you what it looks like through the Virtual Boy console:
This looks like something Vincent D’onofrio would pilot in a video game version of The Cell. It’s a robot CyberSatan would build to torment unfaithful fishwives. I don’t understand the tone of this game at all. Let’s look this up in the manual and see if we can find out more.
The man in that pain fetish suit is a punk rock baseball player? From a team called “Cookies?” And hold on, it says “he doesn’t like to dress like a punk rocker” right next to a drawing of him dressed like that. I imagine everyone has a different idea of what “dress like a punk rocker” means, but if someone was shirtless and holding their camouflage pants up with spike suspenders, you wouldn’t assume they were in a ska band. I don’t think Engrish and bad creative decisions can explain this madness. Maybe Virtual Boy manuals were how Japanese intelligence officers sent coded messages?
Anyway, I beat Johnny and found out these people aren’t inside the 12-foot-tall robots. They’re a few steps behind them, driving the teleroboxers with VR headsets. Which seems way less cool for almost the exact same amount of danger. Johnny, if you’re going to leave baseball to die in robot combat, do it from the center of a robot explosion, not accidentally stepped on after the future world champion invents “robot shoving.”
The next enemy in the game is a balding man with white hair named Rick, who might be lying about his age (32). And maybe the Teleroboxer developers knew the last robot was a little weird, so they made Rick’s pretty standard. He just pilots a very pregnant skeleton with spiked combat titties. You know, seeing me type this makes me realize I have some questions. Let’s see what the manual says about Rick.
Oh, (Big) Rick’s robot is SPOKONG, so that’s probably a gorilla tummy, not a post-term pregnancy. And look at the back story thrown together for Rick. He drove his twin brother away at age 15 and then became a teleroboxer to track him down? This sounds like a story an elderly man would tell you to explain how he got trapped in a robot. “I’m thirty two! Have you seen a mech pilot? Looks just like me? Hates me? Maybe we could look for him together in my gorilla, ladies?”
Wait a minute. I think I saw something strange when I punched (Big) Rick. Let’s look closer. Virtual Boy, ENHANCE.
I-is that a face? Smiling from inside his ape? Rick, I think I found your twin brother! He was with you all along! And I was kind of right about this ape being pregnant!
Unfortunately, a teleroboxer match doesn’t end until you punch your opponent to pieces, so if Rick’s twin brother was in there, he didn’t make it. He found him after all these years and he spent his last moments showing Rick precisely what he would look like if he was soup.
When I beat Johnny, he ran away in humiliation. Rick didn’t handle the loss quite as well. He went full gorilla, beating his chest at me until he caved in his own chest. I don’t think I’m misinterpreting the text to say he died right at me. His portrait changed to a picture of him with his eyes rolled back in his head and red foam pouring from his mouth. And it stays like this. For the rest of the game, I will be haunted by the corpse of the opponent who hated me so much he beat himself to death to ruin my post-fight interview.
Our next opponent is a… okay, I guess if I was describing this to a police sketch artist I’d say it’s a “combat medic ninja in a propeller helmet piloting a triangle-hatted catfish bot?” And they describe themselves as “SEX: ? AGE: 4“. I have a lot of questions, but this character isn’t in the manual. Fuck this thing. This looks like a Turkish Transmorpher. Did they include the last-place entry of a “design your own video game robot” contest as a joke? It looks like a buttplug and a tractor shared the same teleportation accident. Again, fuck this thing.
Next up is BOMKUN, who is finally something comprehensible. He’s a clown bomb piloted by a plum farmer in pajamas named PICKY from ?. I don’t have any followup questions, which is lucky because they’re not in the manual either. All we know is they’re 527 years old, that human face they’re wearing probably isn’t theirs, and that’s plenty.
PICKY and this sad face continue the game’s tradition of doing everything they can to make you feel bad for winning, but I think things are about to turn around because my next opponent is PRIN, a horny sex gremlin. There’s no way Teleroboxer is going to screw this up.
Oh no. The pilot is sixteen? Teleroboxer, you want me to punch apart a teenage girl’s sex robot? This has to be some kind of mistake. Let’s see if this thing is in the manual.
So Cheri wanted to be a fashion model, but before she left high school she decided a career in mech fighting made more sense because of her “tomboy looks and style.” And the artist chose to demonstrate this masculine style by giving her a twenty inch waist, the haircut toddlers draw to indicate “woman,” and a bra and miniskirt. And what’s this backstory? There’s a rumor going around that she pilots a stolen sexmech? Are you telling me in the near future there will be enough 12-foot sex robots that a child can steal one and no one will noti– ha ha listen to me. That’s the most believable part of Teleroboxer so far. There will definitely be a stage of human civilization where kids drive hand-me-down sex robots to their gig economy jobs as death arena fighters.
As I mentioned, Teleroboxer really wants you to feel uncomfortable when you win, and they will do so at any cost. So after you beat Cheri’s butterfacebot, the young pilot steps into the spotlight and starts sexily taking off her clothes. The enemies in this game are fucking nuts, but until now they’ve been made of disconnected hallucinations and incomprehensible choices. So it’s suspicious that the one female teleroboxer’s whole deal is “beautiful fashion girl, but a cool one, driving a pleasure bot who can’t wait to get nude.” If you asked the Teleroboxer staff to name a non-sex thing about women they wouldn’t understand the question, and we’re truly lucky one of them had enough sense to cut away from this kid’s strip tease before she took off more than her goggles.
Teleroboxer Developer #1: “It’s the ’90s, so the reward for beating the girl character is obvious. She submits herself to you and slowly removes her–”
Teleroboxer Developer #2: “Headset! Slowly removes her VR headset! Jesus, that was clo–“
Teleroboxer Developer #1: “… paaaanties.“
Back to Teleroboxer‘s idea of “normal,” your next opponent is Kevin, an Australian boy who dropped out of 4th grade to kill men with a kangaroo robot. I can’t wait to see how they make this weirder in the manual.
This 9-year-old’s bio is off to a weird start already because that’s a drawing of a full-grown man punching himself in the crotch. And it says Kevin only pursued boxing to prove himself to his father who already gave up on his acting career? This is tragic. I don’t want to be a part of Kevin’s cycle of abuse. Why are they trying to make me feel so guilty for beating these people? Next you’re going to tell me that after I win I’m going to thumb Kevin’s tiny eyes out.
Oh my god. I’m doing it. I’m thumbing Kevin’s tiny eyes out.
Okay, but that’s the end of the strangeness, right? Kevin’s not going to escape on a rocket of farts or anything?
God damn it, Teleroboxer.
Destroying Kevin’s life and taking his eyes was the last step in reaching the final boss. MAMORU isn’t in the manual or described in any cutscenes, so all I know about him is that he’s a ninja in a ninja bot, which is almost sarcastically normal compared with the rest of the game. He’s the kind of idea that begins with “I don’t know” and ends with “fuck you.” Sorry, everyone. After all this lunacy we’re going to end on a totally ordina– wait, what’s this?
We are not the true champion?
There’s a secret “LEGENDARY CHAMP!?” And their name, sex, age, and country are all “?” This is going to be the least coherent thing anyone has ever laid eyes upon. The Teleroboxer Legendary Champ promises to be nothing but dislogic and guilt taken form! A vision of irrationality from which I will never recov–
Oh, it’s a cat.
Being piloted by a cat.
And it has the name Milky. Maybe this is a reference to how all the robots have weird nipples? Unless this is… no. No, there’s no way a game developer was self-indulgent enough to make their stupid pet cat the final boss of their video game, is there? Impossible. If that was the case, they would have dedicated precious time and resources to an elaborate credit sequence where you punch photos of the lead designers. Which would be insa–
Oh, they did that. Your reward for beating this sci-fi boxing game about childhood trauma is traveling through the stars with people responsible, and hitting them. When you think about it, it’s the only way… the perfect way for Teleroboxer to end– using your mighty hands of steel to beat programmer Yuzuru Ogawa until he turns into a woman, and then punching him eight more times.
This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: Mark, who is naught but a raccoon piloting a manmech.