Modders find a Nintendo Switch VR mode but there’s a disappointing explanation

Given the unadulterated joy that playing Mario Kart in virtual reality evokes, you can’t blame people for getting their hopes up that Nintendo might consider designing a Switch VR experience. It would be less madcap than making cardboard robots, after all, and that’s a bizarre dream that the company has made a glorious reality with Nintendo Labo.

Nintendo has denied it’s interested in virtual reality, but modders have uncovered a setting hidden away deep within the code that suggests this might not be entirely true. “ICommonStateGetter::SetVrModeEnabled(bool)”, one line of code reads.

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So what happens if you enable this? This, according to one Twitter modder:

For any of you who can’t watch the video right now, the screen splits into two images, before showing the caption “Éloigner la console de votre visage puis touchez fermer”. Google translates that as “Keep your face [by] the console and touch close,” which feels like pretty standard advice for using VR, where the image is split into two for each eye.

Unfortunately, that’s all it does. When you press close, nothing happens, which is hardly surprising given this is not an officially – or even unofficially – supported mode for the Switch.

So is this proof that Nintendo was or is looking at VR? It’s possible, but a more mundane explanation for this hidden code may lie in the architecture of the system. The Switch, like the Nvidia Shield and Google Pixel C, uses a Nvidia Tegra X1 SoC. In other words, this code could just be a leftover from Android’s own graphics APIs rather than something Nintendo has been noodling with.

Related: Upcoming Nintendo Switch games

On the other hand, the translation above does specifically use the word “console”. Would you describe an Android tablet or the Nvidia Shield as a console? Where’s a French language expert when you need one?

Even if it is some kind of hidden VR mode specifically for Nintendo Switch, it’s worth setting expectations at a low bar. The Switch screen can output at 1280 x 720. Halve that (one screen per eye) and you’re looking at a ropey resolution of 640 x 360. PSVR, for comparison, outputs at 1080 x 1200.

Add to that the need to output a solid 60fps for each eye to avoid motion sickness, and you’re looking at quite a tough challenge for the Switch, no matter how many units Nintendo has sold.

Would you like to see Nintendo embrace VR on the Switch? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.

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