While the idea of Mario in VR sounds amazing, this pans out to be merely a half step.
The thought of playing Mario’s latest adventure in Virtual Reality is enough to make any Nintendo fan salivate. So when it was announced that Super Mario Odyssey would be receiving a Labo VR update, many were overjoyed. However, expectations should be tempered, as the VR portion is limited to just three mini areas to explore. And like many of the other Labo experiences, it’s short lived and only takes about a half hour or less to see all it has to offer.
Mario’s VR experience presents three scaled down kingdoms to explore as well as a theater mode. When revisiting the Cap, Seaside, and Luncheon Kingdom you’ll be tasked with finding instruments for the three musicians in each area. In order to complete the task, you’ll need to find the three music notes, which when touched display a grouping of additional notes to collect before the timer expires. Doing this rewards you with an instrument to bring back to each musician. While some notes are hidden, most are in plain sight making it easy to breeze through each kingdom. You can optionally collect 100 coins which gives you a bit more reason to explore all the nooks and crannies, but doesn’t add much to the longevity of the experience.
Now you might be wondering how the actual VR works and no, sadly you won’t be taking control of Mario in the first person. Instead you’ll be controlling him from a stationary camera which is centrally positioned in each kingdom. This gives you a slightly elevated look around the area as you move Mario to collect coins and music notes. The issue that arises is you’ll at times need to move Mario far from the camera and with the low resolution it can difficult to see. Pressing the shoulder buttons gives a zoomed in view, but it still doesn’t feel great to use. There are some cool moments where Mario is flung into the air and sent towards the camera, making it fun to quickly look up into the sky as he coasts his way towards you. However once the appeal of swiveling your head to look around wears off, there isn’t much to bring you back for more.
Once you complete the tasks in each kingdom, a concert will unlock which puts you in a room with the band playing the famous Jump Superstar song. You can move around the crowded room by jumping on people’s heads in trademark Mario fashion, but again there isn’t much to do here. The theater mode lets you watch the opening and closing cinematics through the goggles, but without head tracking. Overall the experience is novel and if you have the Labo VR Goggles already, it’s worth checking out, but by no means should it be the motivation to pick up the VR kit.