If you boot up your copy of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate this morning, you may notice that there is a new update available for the game. The update doesn't add much, but one thing it does add to the game is support for Labo VR, Nintendo's answer to Google Cardboard.
I booted up the new VR mode for Smash Bros. Ultimate this morning to see what it was all about.
In terms of general performance, Smash Ultimate's new VR mode runs pretty well. You can view matches from a fixed point in 3D space, with the ability to turn your head to look in all directions at any time. Nintendo didn't go out of its way to create new assets where ones previously did not exist, so if you look directly behind yourself you'll simply see a black void, but in general the mode works exactly how you would expect. You're looking at a Smash Bros. stage from roughly the standard perspective, but you can look around in real time.
If at any point you find your perspective has drifted, so that looking forward in reality no longer results in looking forward in game, you cal click either of the analogue sticks to recentre your camera. While this isn't an unusual way to recentre the camera, Smash Bros. Ultimate's frantic gameplay, particularly if you're a right analogue stick smash attack-heavy player, can result in unintended camera resets. I've never had to ensure that my inputs explicitly avoid an analogue stick click before, which was something that caused a few nuisances while playing.
You're also pretty limited as to what matches types you can take part in when playing in VR. VR is its own dedicated mode, which is made up of timed matches with four competitors. You can't play against other human players, either online or local, and you can't reduce the number of CPU players to have a one-on-one fight. You can tweak most of the rest of the match settings, including if items spawn and which ones, but only around half of the game's stages are available to select and you can't pick who you fight against – only who you fight as.
Lastly, and this is likely to only affect a very specific set of Smash Ultimate VR players, for arbitrary reasons you can't play with your Joy-Cons not attached to the Switch while playing in VR. While most Labo VR users will need their Joy-Cons up near their face to hold the system in place, anyone who, like us, prefers to play Labo VR using a headset strapped to their head and their Joy-Cons in their lap will be unable to do so. The game will allow you to go through the setup menus wirelessly, but will insist on being connected once you reach the fighter selection screen.
With all that said, for a free update Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's VR mode is a fun addition to the game. With the mode's limitations however, it's not something I'm going to play for more than one or two matches at a time. It might not be a serious step forward for the series, but it's a quirky gimmick that's worth trying if you happen to own both Smash Bros. and the Labo VR kit.