Last night Nintendo made the out-of-the-blue announcement that two of its most popular games of the Switch would soon be “VR Compatible.” Namely, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. In the case of Odyssey, three mini-games will be added that take advantage of the immersive view, and this is all you’ll be able to do. In the case of Zelda, the entire game will become a VR experience.
That sounds amazing until you stop and think for a minute about what Nintendo really means here. They’re talking about the cardboard Labo VR set, due out April 12, that turns your Switch into as crude a VR device as you can imagine. At least those smartphone VR cradles used plastic.
We’re not entirely sure if this will work. The thing about VR is that the eye is VERY hard to fool. Virtual games have to operate at a much higher framerate than normal games, or else they risk making the player disoriented and sick. Breath of the Wild runs at 30 FPS, well under that threshold. You can also add to this the 720p Switch screen, which will appear VERY pixelated on closeup.
The Labo toys are aimed at children and, until now, so was Labo VR, so it didn’t truly matter how bad the visuals were. Kids will try it and then get bored. But VR Breath of the Wild? EVERYbody is going to want to try that out. We’re certain we’ll hear of people making their own VR specs, for lack of Labo or reluctance to blow $80 on cardboard. We’re sure we’ll also hear about people who simply hold the Switch directly up to their faces and claim “it works.” Do you know what you’ve unleashed, Nintendo?
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey will be updated with Labo VR support on April 25. The update is a free one.