Nintendo Labo director says VR was part of the plan from the beginning

Nintendo Labo VR, the cardboard accessories kit for the Switch, faces many expectations as the company's official foray into virtual reality. It is the fourth installment of the Labo series, which was launched for the first time a year ago mixed reviews. Parents and schools praised their experience in tactile construction and programming functions as creative educational tools for children, while some critics dismissed it as a novelty element that lost its fun after the first few moves.

But the director of Labo, Tsubasa Sakaguchi, is not intimidated by the detractors. "We are not focused on the passive game experience, but on the emotion that is evoked when you create your own controllers and play the games," he says. "At the end of the day, you have to experience it to get it."

Sakaguchi has supervised the Labo series from concept to production. Remember an initial test with the consumer that was so disastrous that he returned to his hotel room and cried a little. "When you're really immersed in development, it's very difficult to realize that maybe other people may have difficulty developing it," he explains. "So it was a very good experience for us to see that and realize:" Oh, wait, maybe you need three arms to make this fold. "

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Testing the Virtual reality kits were much easier, since the "Make" part of the building instructions had already been stuck in the first three Labo kits. Nintendo had also been exploring virtual reality long before Labo, so when the developers created the Labo VR concept, the research had already been done. "We are always looking for that coincidence of" technology that is familiar and accessible, "says Sakaguchi." When we think of that little overlap, we think that the concept of Nintendo Labo and VR would be a great game. "

Sakaguchi began his career in Nintendo in 2005, working as an artist in The Legend of Zelda: Princess of Twilight. Since then, he went on to design the user interface for the Nintendo 3DS start menu, worked on titles like Wii Fit and codirect Splatoon. " All those experiences have shaped me where I am. I realized that I always liked creating interfaces, "he says.The background of Sakaguchi's interactivity resulted in a virtual reality system that had a unique input, as well as physical feedback.

For example, the toy camera It has a large lens that emits a click sound when you focus on it.It is a small detail that led the hardware team to several attempts to perfect it, but considered it necessary to make the best sound for the user. We believe that what we see on the screen is important, but what we also believe is important is what we can feel physically and emotionally, "says Sakaguchi.

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

The process of developing the six cardboard creations, or Toy-Contr, was completed trial and error. The team had a list of ideas, such as the incorporation of the wind in the game experience, and only those that could be achieved through hardware and software were achieved. A potential Toy-Con was a helix on the top of the head that would generate wind if it blown a straw, which was rejected in favor of the much simpler wind pedal.

Only 1 million Labo kits were sold by the end of last year, a fraction of the 10 million copies of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate were sold, according to Nintendo's third quarter results. But the company says it expected this, knowing that Labo is a completely different experience from traditional video games. The former president of Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils-Aimé, told The Verge last June, "Labo is the type of game, much like Brain Age for Nintendo DS, very similar to Wii Fit is a game that will be sold for a long time at a very steady rate ".

I was not joking about Labo's long-term vision. Sakaguchi believes that Labo is a game that can grow with children; For example, a five-year-old can build the kits, but when it comes to playing really, it can be a bit too early (the RV is recommended for children seven and up). "But that same child, in about three years, when they're at the perfect age to experience the game, I think they can win something they could not win before," he says.

nintendo labo vr hands on virtual reality goes diy

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Iconic video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto told Time in 2017 that watching people play in virtual reality worries him, and talked about the challenges to create "an experience that is brief enough, while also materializing fully in virtual reality". The mini-games included in the Labo VR software try to achieve this by encouraging turn-based play, and that is why the VR glasses were designed without a head strap. But with the upcoming software updates for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey that will make the games compatible with Labo VR, users are already creating their own improvised Belts for extended play.

Everything the same, create accessories for the Labo is part of the spirit of DIY and Sakaguchi wants users . To make your own decisions. He was particularly surprised by the winner of the Nintendo Labo Creators Contest, who made a solar-powered cardboard accordion, and a user who made a Labo Lab work in a 3D pop-up book. "In a previous interview, I said: & # 39; We came up with all the fun ideas & # 39 ;. But after seeing what the users created, I was ashamed of myself," he says laughing.

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