The Nintendo Labo VR Kits promised to offer small virtual reality experiences for a low price, but the Labo VR Goggles were also sold on the fact that some established first-party Nintendo Switch games would receive limited VR support. Super Mario Odyssey had a fun VR mode that was over way too quickly, while The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild only made you feel like Link if he had somehow contracted dysentery and couldn't help but empty the contents of his stomach on the floor.
The fact that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was receiving a VR mode was a shock to most fans when it was leaked on the same day as the patch that was adding it was due to be dropped. Nintendo didn't start promoting the mode until the patch was available to download, which might send warning signals about its content.
It was to my great surprise that the Labo VR mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is easily the best out of the games that have received VR support so far.
The Downsides To Smash Bros. VR
First, we have to discuss the downsides. The Labo VR mode is single-player only and doesn't even work with local play. The player has to use the Joy-Cons that are connected to the Switch, which means that they can't even use a controller if they have strapped the Nintendo Switch to their head. There are also limitations in regards to the kinds of matches that take place, with no items or Final Smash attacks allowed, while all battles must be timed instead of stock-based, which is most likely a way to stop players from battling for too long.
The stage selection is also limited in Labo VR mode. The stages that can be used are Battlefield, Big Battlefield, Final Destination, Kongo Jungle, Mushroom Kingdom, Rainbow Cruise, Kongo Falls, Jungle Japes, Brinstar, Yoshi's Story, Green Greens, Corneria, Onett, Big Blue, Fourside, Delfino Plaza, Figure-8 Circuit, Warioware, Inc, Castle Siege, Port Town Aero Dive, Smashville, Summit, Shadow Moses Island, Luigi's Mansion, Pirate Ship, Paper Mario, Spirit Train, Prism Tower, Mute City SNES, Magicant, Arena Ferox, Tortimer Island, Living Room, Tomodachi Life, Streetpass Quest, Pictochat 2, Skyloft, Mario Circuit, Garden of Hope, Town and City, Gaur Plain, Pilow Wings, Suzaku Castle, Wuhu Island, New Donk City Hall, Great Plateau Tower, Moray Towers, Dracula's Castle, and Duck Hunt. These levels also include their Battlefield & Omega variants.
How To Use Virtual Reality In Smash Bros Ultimate
When using the Labo VR mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, there are two main ways to play - watching the CPU battles or playing against the computer. The player's view starts out in the same position as if it were a regular match, but they can turn their head to move the camera. The main difference between the two modes is that the player can manipulate the camera to a greater degree while watching the CPU battles.
The reason the Labo VR mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate works so much better than the other attempts made by Nintendo is that it offers a new way to look at the stages, as it's possible to see beyond the normal boundaries of what is shown to the player.
The Advantages Of Changing Your Perspective
In the screenshot shown above, you can see Duck Hunt Duo launching poor Richter off the Omega version of the Dracula's Castle stage. Under normal circumstances, the camera would cut off way before Richter reached the blast zone. The ability to look left and right with the VR headset means that the player can now see what is going on at every part of the stage, making it easier to see how far the stages really go.
It's a (arguably) shame that the Labo VR mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is limited to single-player modes (most likely due to technical reasons), as it would offer a player an advantage over an opponent who wasn't using it. The player wearing the headset would always be aware of their location when they are tossed off stage, making it easier to judge their movements if an enemy jumps out to try and spike them, or by giving them an advantage when using long-range attacks to protect themselves while trying to get back on the stage. The VR mode also allows players to take a better look at the lovingly crafted stages in the game, while also avoiding the same kind of nausea caused by the other Nintendo VR experiences (although everyone's experiences with the headset will be different).
The Labo VR mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is by no means a game changer, and it likely won't convince many fans to take the plunge if they don't already own the Labo VR Goggles. The virtual reality mode in Super Smash Bros Ultimate does offer a unique way to look at the game that has never been done in an official capacity by Nintendo, and it's way more comfortable than the other VR updates released by Nintendo so far.
3.5 out of 5 stars - and it's free if you already own Smash Bros. Ultimate!
The Ver. 3.1.0. patch with the Labo VR update is available for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate now.