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Articles - June 17, 2019

Nintendo Labo VR is Here and It’s Strange

When Nintendo announced that it was making virtual reality headsets again, visions of Virtual Boy danced through many gamers’ heads while the rest of us were just wondering what the company was talking about.

After all, the Switch isn’t the most powerful system out there, and it definitely isn’t VR capable.

But when the company revealed the Labo VR kit, everything started to make sense.

If you don’t know what Nintendo’s Labo is it is basically the Big N’s answer to the cardboard craft craze that is huge in Japan but relatively unknown here outside of cosplay.

How it works is that users put together headset and place the portable Switch inside of it. It is kind of like the Google Cardboard concept but with a little bit more flair and panache.

Part of the appeal of the Nintendo Labo is putting it together, but the other part that is fun is playing the bespoke minigames that come along with the cardboard sets that take advantage of the unique construction you just made.

For the VR headset, there are some cute minigames for that, too, but that’s not what we’re writing about today.

You see, Nintendo really peaked the interests of gamers around the world when they teased that the Labo VR would have some kind of virtual reality version of the Switch’s two modern classics, Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

So, those VR updates are here and they’re underwhelming.

Anyone who plays VR probably isn’t that shocked by this because, one, the Switch isn’t powerful and, two, these games weren’t really the most VR-ready apps out there anyway.

And that seems to be the crux of the issues with the Mario and Zelda VR modes.

The Switch just can’t do it and the games aren’t the best case for a VR console.

Still, some might argue, you can give Nintendo some credit for trying, and that’s true.

But this is not an introduction to VR on any level and, indeed, is probably disappointing for people who want to see Nintendo do some real VR at some point in the future.

The Mario VR is separate from the main game and features 3 levels that do a moderately good job of approximating virtual reality but, when compared to AstroBot VR, it’s just not there.

Most of the custom content in the Mario VR game takes advantage of unique gameplay concepts afforded by the headset.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t seem to be a compelling addition and isn’t worth the purchase by itself.

Breath of the Wild, meanwhile, offers the whole game in VR…sorta.

This might be a “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” mode but it isn’t really what you would think a Zelda VR would be like.

One thing to keep in mind is that this was never intended to be serious VR. But we’ve gotta be honest. It just isn’t worth the price of admission at the end of the day.

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