I like Labo VR. I think it’s one of the weirdest things from a company that is renowned for doing weird, creative, innovative things. I also love The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. The pair elevate the Switch to be one of my favorite consoles, which is an especially impressive feat considering it’s only about two years old. I also love free updates that add new content to good games. Now, with all of that table setting done, I can’t in good conscience recommend you play Zelda or Mario with the aid of Labo VR.
In both instances, you play by placing the Switch, with its controllers attached, in the Labo headset and hold it up to your face, like you’re playing a game through a periscope. It’s not particularly comfortable and my arms got tired as I played, but that’s not a problem exclusive to Zelda and Mario. That’s just Labo VR.
Super Mario Odyssey
Between the two games, Mario’s VR integration is a little more interesting in that it sort of, technically, adds new content to the game. The three VR levels place a stationary camera in Cap, Seaside, and Luncheon Kingdoms and task you with running around to collect coins and find a trio of instruments for some wayward musicians. It contains no new assets or gameplay, but following Mario as you control him in VR works well enough. Once you complete the levels you can watch Pauline sing Jump up Superstar in a concert. If you’ve played Mario Odyssey then you’ve seen the concert already, but this time it’s in VR.
Odyssey’s opening and closing cutscenes can also be viewed using the headset in stereoscopic 3D, but you won’t be able to rotate or move around in the scene. You can also play the VR content without the Labo headset and just use the motion controls to look around, which I appreciate.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Zelda’s VR integration is a little more ambitious, which is admirable, but it doesn’t do the game any favors. Once you load your save, you can flip on VR mode, which basically gives camera control to your head as you play the game normally. Unfortunately, there is noticeable lag when moving your head as the framerate struggles. I have played VR to the point where I am more acclimated to that sometimes-nauseating sensation than most, but the low framerate coupled with the lag made me feel uncomfortable almost right away. And it only gets worse when you visit dense locations like the Lost Woods where the framerate dips a bit even outside of VR.
You can turn off motion controls entirely and basically play normally without the nauseating sensation and even just lay Labo on your face (like this!)…
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…but the only advantage you gain is some light stereoscopic 3D effects, and it comes at the expense of being able to see every singular pixel on-screen making the visuals look muddy.
No One Is Making You Play This Way
I admire weird updates like this. Nintendo is trying something different with its VR efforts, and I appreciate that I was able to try it all for free. I like trying out the developers’ experiment, but Mario’s offerings are shallow, and playing Zelda VR just made me uncomfortable. I wanted to feel the scale of Hinoxes and Guardians as they chased me through Hyrule Field, but the technical limitations made it impossible to get absorbed into Hyrule’s world in a new way. If you have Labo VR, it’s worth seeing what Nintendo’s first-party superstars look like in VR, but this is not the preferred way to play their most recent games. Far from it.
For our thoughts on Labo VR, head here.