Virtual reality technology in the gaming industry is nothing new. Companies have been experimenting with it for several years at this point, and that includes Nintendo. It produced the Virtual Boy back in the ’90s. Anyone that’s familiar with Nintendo’s history knows about the Virtual Boy and its infamous legacy. Long story short, that didn’t turn out very well, and so Nintendo hasn’t really pursued VR on a grand scale since then (at least not publicly). But since VR has made a bit of resurgence in the overall tech world these past few years, this has caused Nintendo to reconsider it. On several occasions for the last few years, executives have dismissed any new large-scale plans because Nintendo has been looking for ways to create a virtual reality experience that it sees as being truly fun. Well, it looks like an adequate concept may have been decided upon.
Rumors have recently cropped up that suggest Nintendo will be releasing a new VR product sometime soon, and it reportedly will incorporate Nintendo Labo functionality. The rumor hasn’t provided any specific details of this apparent plan, but I can’t help but at least be mildly intrigued.
While Labo has received a lot of praise by some folks for the way it encourages creativity and its unique design, it’s also been lambasted by others for being such a low-tech product. Ever since the initial reveal last year, I’ve seen so many people mock it by hanging onto the technical fact that Nintendo is selling people cardboard. However, even if you do choose to give Nintendo flack for this and dread the thought of a cardboard-made VR headset, just keep in mind that this wouldn’t be the first of its kind.
Similar to Nintendo, Google has conducted quite a number of quirky experiments throughout its history. Google Cardboard was one such invention, and it’s as simple as it sounds. It’s a VR headset for mobile phones that’s made entirely out of cardboard, along with velcro, magnets, rubber bands and other low-spec components. Definitely a far cry from something like the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or PSVR, all of which costs hundreds of dollars. The Cardboard, on the other hand, only went for about $10. You could even just download the plans from the official website and build it yourself, essentially making it almost free.
Of course, Google Cardboard didn’t really light the whole world on fire. But it did at least do essentially what it set out to do in the first place: to get people to experience VR for themselves. The huge upfront cost of premium headsets is a big reason why the tech still hasn’t become 100% mainstream yet, so something like Google Cardboard is perfect for encouraging the masses to sign on. The alleged Nintendo Labo VR invention basically fits the same mold.
Don’t count Mii out
The current Nintendo Labo “Toy-Con” options work surprisingly well despite their technological simplicity. Admittedly, while something like the Toy-Con Steering Wheel doesn’t completely hold its own against a proper game racing wheel, it’s still not bad considering that it really just is a cardboard contraption. I’ve already expressed my love for the concept of Labo in the past, and though I still don’t own one, I think I’d probably cave just to try out this alleged VR headset. While I still don’t see VR becoming the next big pillar of gaming, something like this could put a truly fun spin on the concept, which is exactly what Nintendo set out to do in the first place.
Not much can really be said about this situation given the scarce details, and the fact that it is still just a rumor for now. But should this prove to be true, my best advice is to keep an open mind. If anything, just look at the Switch itself. Prior to its official reveal, I saw a good number of folks who were totally against the concept of a hybrid system. Now, the Switch is going down in history as a best seller. Could the same be true for Labo VR? Only time will tell, but I’m very curious to see how Nintendo intends to pull this whole thing off.
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.