Monday, April 22, 2019

First Impressions: Nintendo Labo: VR Kit - Part 1

This weekend, I picked up (a la Amazon) the Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 04 VR Kit.

I have had virtually (eh!?) no experience with virtual reality on my own.  I did play one level last year in Lenovo's Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, which was quite fun, but I knew that it was not something that I would be able to do on a regular basis, if only because my phone would not be able to handle VR both in terms of system requirements and 82.47% sure that it would take up more storage space on my phone than I would have if I were to delete half of my frequently used apps.  On a similar note, I have never used the Google Cardboard VR viewer either for nearly the same reason.  I have also never used either PlayStation VR o, HTC Vive, or Occulus.  So when Nintendo announced the VR Kit for Nintendo Labo earlier in the year (or was it last year?), I thought I would finally jump on the VR train, but I wanted to wait for reviews first for a couple of reasons.

The first being an issue that gave me pause with the VR Kit was the problem that I had had with the Power Glove.  I never owned a Power Glove, but one of my neighbors had.  This guy, we'll call him Red, was a bit taller than I was back in the early 90s and when he showed me the Power Glove and said that it was a one-size-fits-all and was too small for him, I began to have second thoughts on picking one up (in reality, asking for one for Christmas or birthday).  So I was really hoping that the headset in the VR Kit would not run small for someone like me who has a larger than some head.  When I saw Jeff Ramos' Polygon's review, my hopes were lifted a bit.  I asked him via Twitter about the size of the goggles and he said that the size was fine, even with someone with a massive head.  So this really put me the idea of actually picking up the VR Kit into view.

Secondly, I had heard (second/third hand) of instances where people got motion sickness because a VR game was lagging under 30 fps and having some history with motion sickness induced by certain first person video games (DOOM II, Time Splitters: Future Perfect), I was a little concerned about this with the Switch, knowing that it was not a graphically heavy system compared to the PS4 or XBO.  I was even more concerned that the apparent optimum frame rate is upwards of 90, which I, one, have never played a game at 90 fps so I would not even know what that would look like, and two, I have never heard of a Switch game running at 90 fps.  And because motion sickness experienced during games does not happen to everyone, it is kind of hard to determine if what affects one person will affect everyone else.

Lastly, there were some graphical concerns, that because the Switch while undocked played at native resolution of 720p, then splitting that as a VR headset might then have a resolution of 360 per eye.  Much less than what portions of the Internet will tell you is significantly unplayable because it is not a native resolution of 1080p per eye.  While running at 90fps.  My ultimate figuring was that because it is Nintendo releasing the product and not a small third party developer, that they are going to not release a crappy peripheral for the Switch, or at least that it what I thought.  You could point to the Virtual Boy, Power Pad, the Wii U, or any other device from Nintendo if you really want to and say it was badly thought out and produced if you really want to.

So, this is the lead up to me actually starting to put together the VR Googles unit, being the base for what all of the other VR kits attach to and I will be covering what that experience was finally like in Part 2 on Friday (or tomorrow if I get around to it)*.


*There is also a very good chance that Part 2 will contain pictures.  Maybe not pictures of me, but pictures of the VR Goggles.  Because who wants to see pictures of some schmuck with cardboard on their face?

P.S.  This article ended up turning into a two parter because as a one parter without pictures to help break up the text, it got quite cumbersome and the Editor-In-My-Head told me to.

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