Sat. Oct 1st, 2022

Launching later this month, the Nintendo Labo VR Kit is likely to be the Japanese gamemaker’s first virtual reality product in 24 years. Until today, the product (which starts at $40) was a standalone collection of new minigames, all designed around folding cardboard controllers.

That changed with an announcement on Thursday evening: two of the biggest games on Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Odyssey and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will receive free updates to VR mode on April 25, two weeks after the Labo VR Kit launch date. Both require the VR kit, which includes a pair of lenses that attach to the Switch’s screen and turn it into a makeshift VR headset.

odyssey‘s free update opens up three newly designed levels, all based on existing flat screen worlds from the 2017 game. In this, players look at Mario from a third-person perspective, which they can shift by turning their heads. This is similar to existing VR platformers like Moss, as opposed to a VR adventure viewed from the famed plumber’s first-person perspective. It’s unclear whether the camera will remain at a fixed, central point in these three levels or whether it will follow Mario’s movement, a la more dynamically Astro Bot: Rescue Mission

Meanwhile, instead of creating specific VR zones, Breath of the WildThe upcoming update seems to link a VR option to the full game. This means players will still have full joystick control over where the game’s camera hovers around the character Link, along with a head-tracked option to fine-tune which angle you’re viewing him from. That head-tracking may play a part in series-specific actions like aiming a bow and arrow, but it doesn’t seem to get players into a first-person VR experience.

How comfortable both modes will be in practice remains to be seen. Anything less than a locked 60 frames per second refresh is notorious for causing motion sickness, and we don’t know if odyssey will continue to enjoy a 60fps refresh with a “dual lens” display on the Switch’s screen (which would then be translated by the Labo VR Kit’s dual lenses). Breath of the Wildmeanwhile hovers around a 30fps refresh before factoring in its own doubled-lens rendering for a VR mode.

We don’t have any indication yet of how either game’s visuals will be updated (or even downgraded) to meet VR’s rendering load. And we can only assume that in both modes, VR players have to hold a Switch to their face like a periscope and then hold the system’s Joy-Cons in that position to play the games. Unlike the Virtual Boy, this Nintendo Labo-ized VR rig does not including a kickstand that can comfortably press a headset to a player’s face.

Thursday’s news follows a similar Labo patch for a non-Labo game last year when Mario Kart 8 Deluxe began to support the Labo Vehicle Kit motor set as a motion controller. We really wish Nintendo’s port of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker had gotten this Labo VR update, as that puzzle game already includes motion controls for adjusting the cameras, which makes searching for clues from the game a lot easier to manage.

List image by Nintendo

By akfire1

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