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Make it a (Virtual) Reality: Super Smash Bros.

Virtual reality (VR) in its current state is best applied to slower, more plodding experiences so that users can acclimatise to the technology without worrying about simulation sickness. On first thought, then, the fast-paced, head-spinning battles of the Super Smash Bros. series seem to be exactly the opposite of what you’d want to see in VR, then. Four-player first-person timed-matches in which each combatant struggles to survive as they’re knocked to and fro? That’s a recipe for disaster on current Oculus Rift kits. But, then again, who said that first-person perspective had to be from the fighters’ view?

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Super Smash Bros. is Nintendo’s ultimate franchise mash-up and every fan’s dream come true. Popular characters from a wide range of Nintendo videogame series gather to battle it out for supremacy. Matches play out on a 2D plane and are presented as if being carried out in front of a crowd of excited, almost blood-thirsty fans, with cheers echoing through maps as characters are knocked off stage and chants filling arenas as one fighter excels.

In VR, players could assume the role of one of the crowd members, much like in other third-person VR experiences. Matches would come to life in 3D, appearing as if the player was really sitting in an arena, overlooking the battle. Imagine seeing Bowser tower over the competition, or watching Link fight his way through an army of enemies. It would add a whole new level to the title’s atmosphere. That said, this sort of option would only really appeal to single-player and online matches; four players locally putting on HMDs for a few rounds doesn’t sound all that appealing.

Players could even potentially use VR technology to help them in fights. There’s no limits to how a head-mounted display’s (HMD) head-tracking technology could be used to aim weapons or mash up with other Nintendo franchises with the title’s Assist Trophies. Throwing Pokeballs into specific locations, guiding a Final Smash attack across the screen or aiming the weapons on an Arwing from Star Fox could all be possible without detracting from the title’s immediate gameplay.

Super Smash Bros. might seem like a poor fit for VR, then, but could actually be one of the more interesting experiments for the technology. Sadly, Nintendo isn’t likely to get involved with VR any time soon, meaning this will likely remain a dream for some time to come.

‘Make it a (virtual) Reality’ is VRFocus’ weekly feature that takes the videogames we already know and love and looks at how virtual reality (VR) could enhance them. From retro classics to modern blockbusters, we examine the pros and cons of bringing a franchise to VR headsets.