Nintendo Patents Possible Simplified Switch VR Headset

A new Nintendo Switch VR headset has been spotted in patents that could hint at a new product.

Let’s Go Digital first spotted the patent, which was reportedly originally filed in February 2018 and granted last month. It was filed through the Japanese Patent Office, so it’s hard to translate exactly what’s going on. The pictures sort of speak for themselves though.

Switch VR Headset 2

This looks like a simplified version of the base Labo VR headset released earlier this year. Labo VR was essentially Google Cardboard for Switch, housing the main console in front of a pair of lenses you held to your head. You built the headset yourself with instructions and, crucially, also constructed add-ons like a blaster and camera. We thought it offered a crusty but wholesome VR experience.

A New Switch VR Headset?

But this patent instead shows a stripped-back headset with a pair of lenses and a slim case that seems to fit around the Switch. Now it’s very possible this all just details the groundwork for what would become Labo VR. But it could also mean a simplified version of a Switch VR headset is on the way, without the Labo DIY element. It reminds us a little of these fan-made concept images for a Switch VR headset. You still have to hold the thing to your face, though.

Why would Nintendo do this? Well, since launch, a surprisingly large number of Nintendo-made games recieved free VR support. Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Smash Bros Ultimate all got VR support. Plus, other developers can now release Switch VR games, like last week’s launch of Spice & Wolf VR. Nintendo might be planning to launch a cheaper, pre-made VR headset to allow these VR titles to reach more customers.

It’s an interesting idea, though removing the Labo VR element from the headset does take out some of the fun. And you probably wouldn’t be able to play lots of the minigames that came with the Labo VR package. Also, the additional VR support for most of these games is pretty much universally terrible. But, hey, they were free. Would you buy a Nintendo VR headset just to try some of those free VR updates?

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Captain Toad Is Getting Nintendo Labo VR Support Today

The next Nintendo Switch game to be getting Labo VR support is none other than Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.

Nintendo Japan confirmed the news via the below trailer. A free update today (in Japan at least) adds a handful of levels that you can play with the Switch’s Cardboard headset. From what we can tell, these are existing levels brought into VR rather than all-new content but we might be wrong about that.

In Captain Toad you navigate worlds avoiding enemies, gathering coins and gems. The Labo VR levels seem to keep that gameplay largely intact, although it looks like there’s also an on-rails first-person shooter segment.

Now, historically speaking, Nintendo’s VR updates for existing Switch games have been pretty bad. Super Mario Odyssey was under cooked, Zelda was awkward and Super Smash Bros was pretty horrific. But Captain Toad actually makes a fair bit of sense for a headset of this type. It’s got adorable diorama-sized worlds just like Astro Bot and its puzzle-based gameplay seems perfect for VR.

Granted it’s often Labo VR’s technical limitations that hold experiences back. Switch’s 720p screen only allows for blurry 3D images and the three degrees of freedom (3DOF) tracking often feels limited. The minigames that come bundled with the hardware itself are much better reasons to own Labo VR. Even then, though, it’s only really worth it as a means of introducing VR to kids.

Recently we discovered that Nintendo’s new Switch, the Switch Lite, won’t support Labo VR. The redesigned device isn’t replacing the original, though.

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New Nintendo Switch Lite Is Not Labo VR Compatible

Is the new Nintendo Switch Lite Labo VR compatible? Unfortunately not.

Cnet confirms as much in its hands-on article of the just-announced device. As the name suggests, Switch Lite is a smaller, lighter variation of the original Switch. Due to the difference in size and lack of detachable Joy-Con controllers, it won’t support the company’s range of Labo peripherals. Nintendo hasn’t yet commented on if it could release new versions of existing Labo kits that are tuned to Switch Lite’s new specifications.

It’d be a shame if not. Labo is designed as a family-friendly set of cardboard peripherals you make yourself. Switch Lite is cheaper than the original Switch ($199) and the pair do seem ideally suited to each other. Switch Lite also won’t connect to TVs.

Nintendo released the Labo VR Kit earlier this year. It allows you to slot the original Switch into a cardboard headset, though you need to detach the controllers to do so. The Switch Lite simply wouldn’t be able to fit into the slot in the headset, at least not without breaking the cardboard. Hopefully we’ll see Nintendo Switch Lite Labo VR compatibility in the future, though.

Still, Labo VR isn’t exactly an essential Switch accessory. We’re quite fond of it as a family-oriented device but support for games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Smash Bros Ultimate is, quite frankly, pretty dire. Yesterday, we on comments from Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto insisting that Nintendo had not fallen behind with VR.

If you’re desperate to try out Nintendo Labo VR, then, this new device isn’t for you, at least for now. Switch Lite releases on September 20.

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Shigeru Miyamoto: Nintendo Has ‘Not Fallen Behind With VR’

Nintendo’s Labo VR headset is far from the most advanced VR tech out there. But the company insists it hasn’t “fallen behind” with the technology.

Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto himself said as much in a recent Nintendo Shareholders Q&A. “We have not fallen behind with either VR or network services,” Miyamoto said. “We worked on them from the very beginning, and have been experimenting with them in a variety of ways.”

For VR, that meant this year’s release of the Nintendo Labo VR Kit. Building on the existing Labo line, it offers a set of make-it-yourself cardboard peripherals, including a VR viewer you slot the Switch into. The experience it offers is undoubtedly creaky – it’s only got three degrees of freedom (3DOF) tracking and a blurry 720p display. But the DIY aspect of the product definitely has its charms.

“Because we don’t publicize this until we release a product, it may look like we’re falling behind,” Miyamoto continued. “In regards to VR, we think that we have created a product that is easy for our consumers to use in the recently released Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 04: VR Kit. Nintendo consumers encompass a wide range of ages, including young children, so we will continue to create and announce products that can be enjoyed by anyone.”

While Labo VR certainly is accessible, the quality of compatible content on the platform, such as the VR support for The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild and Super Smash Bros Ultimate, is often pretty low. We’d love to see the company come out with a higher-grade device that offered a more palatable experience. We’ll keep out fingers crossed for now.

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Hack Kids In Tokyo Teaches Game Programming Using Nintendo Labo VR

Hack Kids In Tokyo Teaches Game Programming Using Nintendo Labo VR

Nintendo’s cardboard Labo creations have been an avenue for gamers to explore creativity, especially so for those of a younger age. Now, the company is utilizing its Nintendo Labo VR Kit in the Hack Kids in Tokyo special event where parents and children age 6 and up learn to program their own games using Toy-Con Garage VR.

Hack Kids in Tokyo is an event organized by Yahoo and welcomes elementary school children in third to sixth grade along with their parents. Toy-Con Garage VR is a way for Nintendo Labo VR users to take a look under the hood of over 60 games that have been created by Labo’s developers. Hack Kids will use this same program to teach kids and parents how the games are made and help them to develop their own.

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Super Smash Bros Ultimate Just Got Switch VR Support

Super Smash Bros Ultimate Just Got Switch VR Support

Nintendo just added VR support to another one of its tent pole Switch games – Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Yup, really.

Update 3.1.0 for the game brings limited support for the Switch’s Labo VR headset. You won’t embody a fighter in first-person, but you will watch and play from the sidelines as if you were really there. When using Labo you can either face off against one other computer player or watch four other CPU players duke it out. Sadly, there’s no support for bigger battles or online play.

You do get to choose from ‘dozens’ of the game’s stages. You can look around and see areas of each scene you wouldn’t on a traditional display, which is pretty cool. This also technically marks a VR debut for a heck of a lot of game franchises; the chance to see Samus, Solid Snake, Mega Man, Sonic and more in VR is enticing.

We haven’t tried the support for ourselves but we wouldn’t get too excited. Labo VR is a novel piece of kit, mainly intended for kids to use. But the Switch’s 720p display and limited horsepower hold it back from really bringing lots of content to life. We’ve played Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in the headset, for example, and neither really held up.

Still, it’s better than nothing. Nintendo seems to be quite willing to throw VR support into its biggest games, which makes us think this won’t be the last we hear from the headset.

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Unofficial Nintendo Labo VR Headstrap Give Your Arms A Rest

Nintendo Labo VR Headstrap

The Nintendo Labo VR headset is an intriguing piece of kit for the right audience. But, no matter who you are, it’s easy to get fed up with holding the thing up to your face all the time. This Nintendo Labo VR Headstrap package fixes that.

Sweet Proof Gaming last week released an add-on kit that doesn’t require you to modify your Labo. The company mainly makes grips for gaming controllers but clearly spotted an opportunity here. It features two adjustable straps that will fit around your head. As it stands right now, the standard Labo VR headset needs you to hold it up to your face. You either do that with two Joy-Con controllers attached to the side of the Switch or by holding the headset itself. With this unofficial add-on, you’ll be free to give your arms a rest.

The company says the straps will work with Joy-Con plugged into the Switch too. It will also come with cushioned forehead and nose rests so you’re not getting any cardboard paper cuts. Right now you can add your name to a reserve list for when the kit comes into stock. It costs $13.99 and should work with the kit’s Toy-Con add-ons, too.

It’s a cool idea, though not quite as flashy as the awesome Zelda mod we saw for the kit. It’s just a shame that Labo VR’s two biggest games, the VR mode for Super Mario Odyssey and the VR support for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, are both pretty lackluster.

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Nintendo: Labo VR On Switch Was ‘Planned Out From The Very Beginning’

mario labo vr

 

Nintendo has been coy about their VR plans over the last couple of years. From outright denial that they’re even working on VR at all to criticisms of the current VR market, it was starting to seem like they might not jump on the VR train for a while. But alas, the recent release of the Labo VR kit for Switch proves otherwise.

Apparently, that was always the plan according to Labo creator Tsubasa Sakaguchi in an interview with CNET. “We actually had it all planned out from the very beginning … even in the [original] announcement video, if you look at it, everything but the VR goggles is included,” says Sakaguchi.

We’e seen a few really compelling mock ups from fans about what they thought a Switch VR headset might be like and even though one made out of cardboard isn’t quite the same, it’s good to see Nintendo at least investing in the concept a bit. Now modders are adding things like headstraps, which seem like a really obvious omission.

“For VR itself, there was already research happening at Nintendo,” says Sakaguchi. “We thought combining it with a unique controller would make a product that is like none other … creating an input, as well as physical feedback, the elasticity of the rubber band or the wind that you feel. It was kind of like climbing a mountain with other team members … we knew where the goal was at the top of the mountain, but we didn’t know how to get there. It was trial and error.”

We’ll have to see where Nintendo takes VR next with the Labo concept, or if they expand it to a proper headset made out of plastic or something else more sturdy in the future. If you’ve tried the Labo VR kit let us know what you think down in the comments below!

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Nintendo Labo VR Getting Best Buy Demos This Weekend

Nintendo Switch VR Games Labo

A new VR headset is releasing this week. No, not Rift S, Quest or Index. It’s actually Nintendo Labo VR, a makeshift device for the company’s Switch console. Like you, we’re eager to dive into the kit an learn what it’s all about. If you’re still on the fence, though, you’ll be able to do that before you purchase one.

Best Buy will be holding in-store, hands-on demos with Nintendo Labo VR this Sunday, April 14th. The company will hold the demos from 10:30am to 2:30pm. You can book a slot at a participating store through this website. Expect to get demos from the new line of peripherals that includes blasters, wind pedals and, uh, an elephant trunk. Then you can pick one up, head home and build it yourself.

That is a few days after Labo VR launches, mind you. The kit arrives on April 12th with either just the blaster or the whole slew of add-ons. Each comes with its own minigames to play and then there are more than 60 others to in the VR Garage. You can even make your own games with a relatively simple editor.

Nintendo Labo VR is mainly intended for kids, but hardcore VR fans have reason to pay attention too. Later this month Nintendo will update both Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with VR support. The former will include three new mini-missions to play through whereas the latter will be playable start to finish in VR. Needless to say, we can’t wait to get out hands on that.

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