Where Might Nintendo Go With Virtual Reality?

Mario Kart VR

A few years ago we posted some comments from Shigeru Miyamoto in which the renowned director refused to discuss Nintendo’s thinking with regard to virtual reality. While he didn’t deny the company’s interest in VR development, he neglected to say anything at all about it, leaving the public in the dark.

That’s pretty much where things stood with Nintendo and virtual reality for a while, until a recent article from Venture Beat indicated the Japanese gaming giants may indeed have some interest in the wave of technology taking over in-home gaming. While no details were revealed, it was confirmed that Nintendo is “looking into” virtual reality. That could mean anything from game development to console design, though knowing how Nintendo tends to operate pretty independently, it likely means both. But where exactly could Nintendo go with this technology? And which classic games or characters might be of use? This is all speculation, but here are a few ideas.

Mario Kart Could Lead The Way

Look through this list of exciting upcoming games on virtual reality, and you’ll notice that racing games occupy a few of the spots. Both Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Assetto Corsa are included, and that’s not to mention the incredible DriveClub adaptation Sony is expected to roll out for VR. Games like these are pretty well suited to virtual reality in that looking out from a car seat is more of a natural fit than, say, traversing an environment on foot (given that you’re seated while you play). Should Nintendo take note of this idea and follow suit, we could just get a Mario Kart game that satisfies the dreams and imaginations of generations’ worth of adoring players like no previous title has. The chance to be immersed in a Mario Kart environment, looking right to see Donkey Kong coming around the bend, or looking left and banging into Yoshi, etc., would be an incredible Nintendo experience.

Casino Experiments Make Some Sense

Casino gaming may not seem to fit the typically family-friendly nature of Nintendo gaming, but it’s worth mentioning that poker, and some other casino games, are ideally suited to VR. This site has already made some fascinating strides in making the experience feel as realistic as possible, offering 3-D roulette wheels and live dealers for a variety of table games. Now, consider something like that on a VR console—3-D tables and wheels, live opponents and dealers to interact with, etc. Now consider the same but with classic Mario or Nintendo characters as dealers, opponent avatars, and such. It could be a great way for Nintendo to tap into an enormously popular gaming genre, and one that will work quite simply on VR.

Anyone Remember Luigi's Picture Poker from Super Mario Bros. DS?

Anyone Remember Luigi’s Picture Poker from Super Mario Bros. DS?

A Metroid Comeback Is A Dark Horse Favorite

If you look around at more lists and write-ups of coming VR games and concepts, you’ll notice something else: there seems to be a prevalence of dark and supernatural games that are largely about adventure and exploration. The reason for this is probably that VR developers can’t wait to design rich, mind-blowing atmospheres and games that invite you to simply probe around and get to know those atmospheres. And if you ever played the exclusive-to-Nintendo Metroid series (and who hasn’t?!), you know that the games pretty much embody those concepts. Sure, for some, the most famous part of Metroid may Samus’s appearance in Super Smash Bros. games, but the franchise’s games themselves were just the sort of thing that developers seem to be dreaming up for VR.

Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before we find out what exactly Nintendo is doing with regard to the VR phenomenon. But assuming some kind of console effort is on the way, these games could make for a great start out of the gate.

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