The terms “Nintendo” and “virtual reality” will forever bring to mind the failed, awful Virtual Boy console.
All the same, Nintendo’s research into VR apparently continues.
That’s according to at least one alleged attendee of Nintendo’s recent shareholder’s meeting in Japan this week. “Super Mario” creator and Nintendo’s creative lead Shigeru Miyamoto reportedly told shareholders that Nintendo is indeed researching virtual reality technology, and has the background to support it. Nintendo has yet to release the transcript of the meeting, so the comments are unconfirmed for now.
Beyond speaking to the research Nintendo’s done in VR, Miyamoto also reportedly said he’s found one problem in VR insurmountable: playing for long periods of time. As someone who’s spent considerable time in VR headsets, I can confirm that lengthy experiences require regular breaks. Headsets are hot, the experience is overwhelming, and you sometimes need a moment of respite (even in a relaxed game).
You’ll be unsurprised to hear that this isn’t the first time in recent history that Nintendo’s spoken about virtual reality. There’s precedent for this VR research. Miyamoto told Time Magazine in 2014 that Nintendo was looking into VR back then as well.
“We’ve been doing our own experiments with virtual reality dating back to the Virtual Boy. And even to some degree, the 3DS [handheld game console] was designed with a little bit of this in mind with its stereoscopic 3D. So we’re always looking at hardware and assessing what’s possible,” he said.
At the same time, Nintendo has repeatedly stated a focus on making great games over making powerful game consoles — and you’d most certainly need a very powerful game console to power a high-end VR headset from Nintendo. The Japanese game company is indeed making a new console right now — codenamed “Nintendo NX” — but it’s rumoured to be some form of home console/portable console hybrid.
Could it also power VR? Perhaps! Nintendo’s said next to nothing about its next console, though we expect to hear a lot more sooner than later. Last we heard from Nintendo, the NX is arriving in March 2017 — just nine months away at this point.