Smash Bros Ultimate gets Labo VR support, adding nothing

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Image Credit: Nintendo

Got all you can out of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? If you've unlocked the whole roster of 76 fighters (including those added through Smash Bros Ultimate DLC), finished the Spirit Board single player mode, and smashed your way through online battles, Nintendo has some brand new content just for you: VR support.

Nintendo has been creating various Switch peripherals in the Nintendo Labo range, including the recently released Labo VR Kit, which allows you to create cardboard VR goggles for use in a variety of dedicated demos – and even some of Nintendo's biggest first-party titles like Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild.

As part of Nintendo's pipeline of updates for the bestselling fighting game, Switch users who download the latest 1.3 firmware update will be able to unlock a VR mode in their copy of Smash Bros. Ultimate – available in the Games & More section from the main menu. Switching on the mode will split your screen into two sections, one for each eye, ready to slip into the Labo VR Goggles to get up close to the action.

We're just not entirely sure why...

Smash Bros. Ultimate isn't a first-party game, and playing through the eyes of your character in such a chaotic, fast-moving brawler would likely cause you several heart attacks. The VR mode essentially just brings you a bit closer to the game's stages, letting you angle the camera to get an enhanced 3D perspective.

The games are kept quite short, to limit motion sickness – which is likely with such a low-resolution screen – and can only be used offline, either 1v1 with a bot or in games made entirely of CPUs. It's essentially a game mode that's harder to play for extended periods, without any discernible difference to the gameplay. 

Our time playing Zelda in VR didn't inspire us much either.

As a curio for those already with VR Goggles, you might want to try it for a bout or two, but we can't imagine any extended use for the mode at this point.

It's disappointing, given the promise of the Labo VR Kit, that Nintendo seems determined to tie in to its biggest franchises without any real benefit for the gamer. Anyone who buys into the Labo ecosystem specifically to play Smash Bros isn't going to get much out of it – and our time playing Zelda in VR didn't inspire us much either.

If VR is going to be a Nintendo stalwart in the coming years, Nintendo will need to be really think where the support makes a difference, and where it just isn't doing anything for players.

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Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.