May 23, 2022

The Opportunities of Nintendo Labo VR

Having been out since 2018, Nintendo Labo VR isn’t a new thing, but it has been criminally underutilised. With a staggering amount of potential for Switch owners.

The opportunities of Nintendo Labo VR are I feel numerous, and I think it’s time Nintendo really made a push in this direction and I’m hoping to outline why this is such an opportunity.

Time to present my case in classic fashion, no, not with a montage. In an orderly fashion, with subheadings.

Inclusive Affordability?

Firstly, looking at VR, the price could be a massive barrier for some people to get into VR gaming or entertainment. Considering the options available out there, Oculus, HTC Vive or Sony PlayStation VR to name the most popular, it seems like Nintendo Labo VR is missing a trick in terms of affordability.

A quick Google search will show you the prices of the popular VR gaming choices, ranging from a few hundred pounds up to around a thousand for the top end gear. And this is just the VR element, with not all headsets being stand alone and needing the power of a PC or the PlayStation 4 to actually use.

So, adding this up, the price could be formidable, though you have to appreciate the price of the most recent Oculus, the Oculus Quest 2; with the 64gb offering available for around £300 currently. Having tried this out recently, I can confirm, it’s wicked.

This is where the opportunity of the Nintendo Labo VR starts to show itself. The Switch already has motion controls with the impressive yet somewhat unreliable Joy-cons, yes, I’m referencing that damn drift.

With a myriad of third-party accessories available, the Joy-con controllers can become many implements to be used in VR games. Not that an enhanced Joy-con wouldn’t go amiss, with targeted VR playability intended.

Once you have purchased your Nintendo Switch if you don’t already have one, you can pick up the Nintendo Labo VR kit for around £30 on Amazon or the Nintendo website. But using cardboard isn’t too modern or comfortable, is it? Well luckily third-party hardware developers love Nintendo, and the Switch can fit into many VR style headsets that offer much more comfort.

With the OIVO VR Headset a popular choice for Switch VR users and available for just about £25 on Amazon (No I am not sponsored by Amazon; their service is just too damned convenient!). You can see how the price adds up at the higher end of the VR gaming market, but the Nintendo Switch can offer a cheaper alternative, which brings me to what the Switch is currently lacking, the games. But first, the graphical question.

Pixel Vision, But Accessible Immersion?

As anyone who has used the Nintendo Labo VR or a third-party headset to play the small number of titles available on Switch in VR, the graphics can be an issue. Yes, the screen isn’t capable of delivering the highest level of graphical quality, but that is surely outweighed by the accessibility of the hardware. With a resolution of 1280 by 720 maximum and a refresh rate of 60hz, it’s far below the other VR gaming options.

But we’re not looking for Ready Player One type integration, we’re looking for fun in shorter bursts due to the inherent nature of having limited time on VR, because of the effects suffered by many players.

When you look at the available kits offered with Nintendo Labo, you’ve got a great variety available. Want to pretend to be an elephant; that’s cool, make a fishing rod, bike handlebars, a small piano. Nintendo have produced some interesting and fun options to show off what the Labo is capable of, clearly focused on the younger generation. But they’ve got a big glaring gap in their business plan from where I’m sitting, a space that could be filled by more adult VR specific experiences (I know what you’re thinking, but not that kind of adult experience). Because graphics aren’t always the key, shown by how many modern developers will use 16-bit styles in games to this day. It’s about the immersion and that’s what I’m craving in a portable style.

A prime example is the recently announced House of The Dead: Remake. The motion controls are already in place but adding the option for VR would really enhance this game in a way even playing in the arcade with your friends never did. With added local co-op you could have two of you playing on two Switch’s, in one room and both fully immersed in VR gaming, for just the price of the Switch, the headset and the game!

Yes, I have an ulterior motive. Me and my Dad need to finish the last boss of a House of the Dead game, having got to the last boss numerous times on my Dreamcast one bank holiday weekend. I need retribution.

Nintendo Labo VR
Credit: Nintendo

Which Switch Games?

Bar House of the Dead that I’ve already touched on, there are quite a few games that could benefit form a VR update on the Switch. Of course, you’d end up looking at FPS games and essentially any first-person experiences for a VR update, but this could be extended to racing games; as we’ve seen with Mario kart 8 Deluxe.

You may say, yes there are VR titles currently on Switch, but it’s been limited to minor updates as an option to a few titles like Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey, as well as the mini games bundled with the Labo accessories.

Though you can have some fun with the Robot Kit or Vehicle Kit’s included games, the Switch could have so much more.

First person games such as Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein and even a VR Apex Legends come to mind, but also puzzle titles like Superliminal, What Remains of Edith Finch and Return of the Obra Dinn.

Skyrim already has a VR version which could be ported to Switch like the vanilla version currently available. You get the point, and we will all have differing opinions on what should be VR and what shouldn’t.

This could open up the opportunity for current VR games found on Steam to be brought over to the Switch, which would be good for Nintendo and the developers of these games alike. It’s also exciting to imagine what other mechanics could be introduced to games on the Switch from new developers being able to explore this easy access to VR technology.

Nintendo Labo VR
Credit: Nintendo

Are Crazy Inventive Old Nintendo Taking Note?

Whilst rumours have swirled for years regarding a Nintendo Switch Pro, could there is also be talk of a real Nintendo Switch VR?

Although mounting your Switch directly onto your face isn’t ideal, Nintendo with the innovative way they put their own spin on gaming, could indeed find a way around this.

Considering how easy it is to cast or mirror your device to another device these days, there could be a better work around.

The Oculus have their special and expensive cable to connect to your PC, as well as the app that can cast to your TV, allowing everyone to view what’s being seen in VR.

This shows what can be done, if Nintendo indeed wanted to put some real muscle into the Switch’s VR capabilities. A link cable to the dock and a companion app are more than a possibility for Nintendo to achieve.

Especially if a more powerful Switch is in the pipeline, able to back up a more processor hungry VR experience.

All of this is of course hypothetical until we see viable evidence from Nintendo themselves substantiating their plans, but I implore them to explore VR at least enough for developers to choose whether to add a VR update, which they can right now.

But with Nintendo’s support and backing this could be an accessible route into VR for many people young and old. Being able to show my Grandparents some Nintendo products in VR, with a portable VR console that’s easy to use is a tantalising prospect and one I can’t let go of, until Nintendo send me an injunction… then I’ll stick to doing it quietly or through my aliases.

Give Us Your Thoughts

Fan sites like Fantendo show the fervour of the Nintendo fans and their ideas that could become reality. With some fans even mocking up what the VR specific hardware from Nintendo could look like, even adding detailed information on past projects, rumours and possible future timelines.

Nintendo Labo VR
Credit: Fantendo

So what do you think? Do you agree or do you think Nintendo should be focusing on another area or going in another direction entirely? Let us know in the comments, how you feel about Nintendo’s future in the virtual reality sector.

Feature Image Credit: CNET


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