Nostalgia is big business. As seen from Nintendo’s success with the recently discontinued NES Classic and the many re-releases and remakes of classic videogames. One of the most fondly remembered eras of videogames was the 8-bit era, so it was probably only a matter of time until someone figured out a way to bring virtual reality to classic NES titles like Super Mario Bros.
Created by programming wizard Trần Vũ Trúc is an emulator program called 3DNES, which through an undisclosed process, allows ROMs of videogames such as Mega Man, Super Mario Bros, Metroid and Legend of Zelda to be extrapolated from simple 2D sprites into full 3D models.
3DNES itself has been around for a while, with version 1.0 released back into 2016, though at the time only being compatible with the Firefox browser.
The latest build, version 1.4, has introduced full support for virtual reality into the paid for ‘Pro’ version of 3DNES, which costs a minimum of $4.99 (USD) and offers VR support for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, TriniusVR and mobile headsets that support Steam VR, though the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are only supported in Windows versions of the emulator.
When the ROMs are loaded into the emulator, it only takes a couple of button presses to change into first-person perspective, allowing the player to essentially become Mario, Link or Samus. Due to limitations within the ROM files, the draw distance is somewhat short, limiting the view to something approximating what would be possible on a normal TV screen, and there are still some optimisation problems such as with the camera pans and viewing messages on screen.
3DNES in VR mode works best with fairly simple games with little text and extravagant details at the moment. It’s unknown what features future versions of the software will bring, however. Further information can be found at the 3DNES website.
VRFocus will bring you further updates on VR versions of classic titles when it becomes available.