The Scuba Virtual Immersion Visor May Be the Worst Gaming Peripheral of All Time

Back in the 1990s, the world was fascinated by the concept of virtual reality. Developers released poorly conceived virtual reality consoles, and films featured ridiculous virtual reality headsets. Philips attempted to capitalize on the trend by releasing the Scuba Virtual Immersion Visor in 1996.

scuba ad

Despite its futuristic appearance, the Scuba Virtual Immersion Visor didn’t actually involve virtual reality of any sort. It was quite literally a low-resolution television set you had to wear on your head, and it may have been the least useful video game peripheral ever made.

scuba ad 2

Advertisements boldly claimed that you hadn’t played a game until you’d played it wearing an Immersion Visor. The Scuba did offer gamers a fairly unique experience, but for all the wrong reasons. It was essentially an expensive way to wreck your eyes and give yourself an assortment of painful ailments. A review in PSM #4 claims that its straps could leave semi-permanent marks on your face, and the visor seems to have been created with neck cramps in mind.

To add salt to the wound, the Scuba’s design made it impossible to get a clear view of the screen. The top and bottom were difficult to view, and corners were obscured completely. Players who used the Scuba were forced to awkwardly stumble around the screen as they tried to readjust the several-pound torture device attached to their head.

The Scuba Virtual Immersion Visor launched at $299, a hundred dollars more than the launch price for the Nintendo 64. Some may say that people who shelled out for this peripheral deserved what they got, but I can’t help but understand why someone may have been tempted into making such a ridiculous purchase.

In the late 90s, it felt like an incredible future was right around the corner. I was frequently enthralled by strange new devices that completely failed to live up to my expectations. If I’d had the cash, I too may have been convinced to affix a poor-quality TV set to my noggin.

As long as there are consoles, there will be terrible, terrible peripherals for them. Still, it’s hard to imagine anything that could out-awful Philips and their faux virtual reality headset.

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1 year ago

I remember ads for this thing! I am so glad I didn’t buy one! I’m sure it was as awful as described!

1 year ago

I bought it few days ago to see how it’s like and seriously, it’s true. I only paid $60 CAD for it, but I’ll keep it as collectible. I have a picture of me wearing it with a true message from our parents in the 90’s.

Jonathan Dogey
Jonathan Dogey
9 months ago
Reply to  Luna

I just got my fifth Scuba in my lifetime brand new complete at a convention a day ago for $65. I think we got a good deal. Seriously, it’s worth getting a screwdriver and taking it apart to see if I can’t adjust the picture a little. It doesn’t look halfbad when it’s disassembled and you hold the half constructed Scuba in front of your face. I can see most of the screen and the resolution is actually decent for the time. But something about how they placed all the pieces together screws up the visibility.

Jonathan Dogey
Jonathan Dogey
9 months ago

It’s worth noting that I do not think Scubas are all the same. I felt the picture quality was decent when I got my refurbished one direct from the company in 1997 for $99. I could see most of the screen, although some corners were hard to see. But many years later, I would find myself buying one after another on ebay, and the screens on those were even blurrier, and many times the left eye piece seemed slightly sunk in compared to the right side. I swear mine from the 90s worked better. Maybe they don’t age well. I just got another one yesterday at Portland Retro Gaming Expo haha!

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