Virtual reality is promising, exciting, and kind of weird. It could be the future of video games, or the future of sound. It’s been awkwardly sexy, and it might bring sex criminals to justice. But over 20 years ago, virtual reality was science-fiction, and there was a TV show where a bunch of kids turned into superheroes through virtual reality: VR Troopers.
And naturally, it had a shitty video game for the Sega Genesis.
You can guess, being a cheap licensed game from 1995, it has little to do with the very real science of virtual reality.
A superhero Street Fighter, VR Troopers is a string of one-on-one fights where you control one of the three titular Troopers (not Rangers) — Ryan, JB, Kaitlyn — against Grimlord, the dark king of the virtual world who seeks to take over Earth because of course he does. In between fights, you’re thrown into the “Battle Grid” where you take on a few foot soldiers at the same time.
And that’s it. You defeat Grimlord, the game ends, you get a pat on the back and the realization you’ve just wasted 45 minutes instead of reading Isaac Asimov.
As virtual reality approaches the consumer market and will find someplace in daily modern life, it’s hilarious to see how far off the mark we were with highfaluten tech. But that’s just the benefit of hindsight: 3D movies, video calls, even hoverboards were all just vague notions in the ‘90s, but in 2015 we just accept them as we do a cup of coffee.
But was it really all that bad? When we had no idea what any of these gizmos would actually do, wasn’t it fun to imagine what life could be like? That’s what made Back to the Future II and 2001: A Space Odyssey fun, after all. We played with speculation.
So, before virtual reality turns us into awkward sex fiends, let’s fantasize that virtual reality can turn us into robot superhero ninjas. If only just a bit longer.