No matter what you make of Nintendo’s current situation, no one can deny that they’d like to see the company make a (second) run at virtual reality (VR). That isn’t just because the storied videogame company could unleash its top-tier range of exclusive IP on the technology, but also because of its traditional philosophy of fully embracing the technology that it’s currently working with. In the face of criticism of its motion control focus with the Wii, the company persevered and created The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, arguably the complete realisation of what it had set out to do with the console.
There’s no doubt in our minds that Nintendo could craft some truly memorable VR videogames. To do it again with the The Legend of Zelda series would be fantastic, but some of its other IP such as Metroid seem like an even better fit for the technology.
Unlike Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) or Oculus VR, Nintendo does seem like the type of company that would release VR as a peripheral instead of a dedicated platform. In recent years the company has committed itself to new means of input embracing an entire console rather than appearing as an optional extra. Both the Wii and Wii U may have traditional control alternatives, but the Wii remote and Wii U Game Pad are definitely the bigger draws for their respective consoles. If Nintendo were to commit to VR, it would likely go the full mile.
Not to mention that the Wii U likely isn’t the best outlet for VR. Of course, the company has recently revealed that it has already decided upon its next piece of hardware, though given its recent, open comments at E3 2014 it’s unlikely that this will be a VR-focused machine. In fact, the company’s Shigeru Myamoto even went as far as to say that VR was ‘interesting’, but the one-player aspect was something of a turn-off.
Of course, it wouldn’t take much to show Nintendo that VR need not necessarily be a single-player experience. SCE is proving as much with Project Morpheus, which offers two-screen multiplayer concepts much like the Wii U Game Pad does. To see Nintendo take this idea and run with it perhaps with the likes of a Nintendoland sequel is a truly intriguing concept.
It’s not as if Nintendo is completely alien to the concept of VR in the first place. The Virtual Boy isn’t exactly the best reference point for the company, true, but its 3DS handheld boasts glasses-free 3D that could see potential user within headset.
From a content perspective, we’re sure that the company would redefine the VR experience in some aspects. The Oculus Rift’s Lucky’s Tale wears its Mario-inspirations on its sleeves; but what if the real deal was to give it a go? No doubt the company would find applications for the technology that we’d never even dreamed of before.
We’re unlikely to see Nintendo enter the VR space in the near future, then, and that is indeed a shame. The company has continued to redefine the industry for decades, and with this compelling technology in its hands it could take us to all new heights. Perhaps once the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus have proved the potential of the tech, we’ll see Mario and co show us all how it’s really done.
‘VR vs’ is VRFocus’ weekly feature that takes an issue currently challenging the VR industry and discusses how to fix it. Looking at everything from the videogames in development to the strength of the technology, we highlight the problems and try to come up with the best solutions.