While Nintendo has lent its Mario Kart IP to a arcade VR experience, the company has so far steered clear of VR on its consoles. It seems it hasn’t been completely off the their radar though, as a Nintendo Switch ‘Test VR Mode’ has reportedly been uncovered in the system’s software by modders.

As reported by UploadVR, Nintendo Switch modder @random666_kys attempted to execute a ‘SetVrModeEnabled(bool)’ flag that was uncovered by modder @OatmealDome. The result was the console briefly switching into a split-screen view that’s a common approach to stereoscopic rendering for VR applications. According to @random666_kys, the text on the screen during VR mode reads (in French), “Please move the console away from your face and click the close button.”

Image courtesy @random666_kys

The modder wasn’t able to show the mode working with any real applications, but did post a brief video showing how a system menu pop up was rendered on both sides of the display, suggesting the VR mode is set up to render any application into a split-screen VR view.

UploadVR suggests the VR mode could have something to do with a patent filed by Nintendo which appears to describe a head-mount which would receive the device, similar to Gear VR, turning the Nintendo Switch into a VR headset.While modders may have uncovered a VR Mode hidden in the Nintendo Switch, it seems likely that Nintendo would recognize that the console’s low 1,280 × 720 resolution makes for unacceptably low quality VR visuals which would closely resemble the Rift DK1’s 1,280 × 800 resolution, as released back in 2013—perhaps hampered even more so by the Switch’s limited mobile processing power.

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Still, it’s good to know that Nintendo has apparently had its eye on the VR space and is likely considering joining the fray when the time is right.

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  • gothicvillas

    Another low tech mobile VR in making :(

    • Tyler Soward

      Nintendo is one company I trust to make fun games no matter how high or low tech. If anybody can give people a real compelling reason to adopt VR it’s them. Nintendo jumping aboard right now would pretty much give VR the push it needs to go mainstream

      • Zachary Scott Dickerson

        Virtual Boy. Huge Nintendo VR flop. Don’t count on that, not always a success.

        • Vegeta785

          Virtual Boy was pretty much what started VR. Don’t forget about that.

          • Muzufuzo

            no no no, not true
            read about history of VR

          • Vegeta785

            oh ok

          • Vegeta785

            My fault

        • Tyler Soward

          Was a good concept but poorly implemented mainly because the tech wasn’t mature enough for what they were trying to do. Timing was off. Commercial failure doesn’t always mean bad product.. Some of the games were pretty fun though. There’s an emulator for Rift that will run on Revive as well if you want to try them out on a modern headset that won’t give you blinding headaches

          • Santa maria

            You are a being a huge fanboy for Nintendo. Despite being told up front about one of their biggest commercial failures, the Virtual Boy, you steer around by saying it still wasn’t a bad product. Commercial failure is synonymous with a bad product. This is marketing 101.

          • Tyler Soward

            LOL! I’m not a “fanboy” of anything. Brand loyalty is dumb and I don’t get involved in it. Re-read my post for content because your interpretation of it is inaccurate,and entirely missed the point.

            I’m old enough to remember the Virtual Boy and don’t need to be “told up front about it being a commercial failure” by some person on the internet. I stand by my previous statement in terms of commercial success / failure. Commercial failure doesn’t necessarily equate to a bad product. However I never said the Virtual Boy was objectively good. My statement was a general observation. Indeed. There are a number of factors involved in whether or not something is viable in the marketplace.

            My opinion on the Virtual Boy is that it was a good concept executed poorly due to technical limitations and bad timing. This is called nuance Santa Maria. Not sure which “marketing 101” class you took or whether that’s actually meant as rhetorical, but a marketing perspective is not the only one which determines whether something is objectively good or not. The VB platform was absolutely flawed. Not contesting that. Hopefully this helps clear things up for you. Please let me know if you have any questions or I can be of further assistance. Thanks

        • Sandy Wich

          Virtual Boy wasn’t VR. It was a pair of binoculars that ran 3dSBS to make images pop. And although it was an awesome concept it was 2 decades before it’s time. TBH Nintendo was WAY ahead of the rest of the industry with VB, it’s just the technology didn’t exist to make the concept shine like it can today, and therefor failed.

          Seriously, I have no idea why you’d bring up the fact that Nintendo had a flop product like 30 years ago. By that way of thinking don’t give any company anything because everyone’s failed at something by this point, right?

          Don’t give PSVR to Sony, their HMD 3D viewer flopped, certainly they’ll fail.

          • Zachary Scott Dickerson

            True, but they marketed it as virtual reality to the public. I was there, I remember. Just saying, that just because it’s Nintendo, does not assure success. They’ve had their share of flops like any company.

          • Sandy Wich

            They could’ve called it w/e they wanted and it still doesn’t change the fact that VB wasn’t VR.

            As for assuring success, there’s no such thing. But considering Nintendo’s experience making many of the best video games in the world alongside them creating the most successfully innovative video game hardware in the world several times, it’s just a much safer bet than let’s say.. Microsoft VR.

  • Lucidfeuer

    Yeah…the Switch is barely able to handle itself with 15 years old obsolete specs and manufacturing processes, let’s not even think about VR.

    • Jordan_c

      Actually it would probably do just fine if you didn’t run it using the battery. Most reports of framerate issues coincide with it being undocked.

      By the way, people managed to run VR with a HTC Vive and Raspberry PI, so the Switch shouldn’t have too much trouble.

      • Lucidfeuer

        It could manage, bad. The original Switch leaked suggested what would have had the most sense: an hybrid portable console, docked console and mobile VR console. Of course they couldn’t do that with the dirt cheap 15 years obsolete materials, manufacture and components they used.

        • Jordan_c

          The Raspberry PI 3 B handled it fine and so do cell phones with lesser specs. There’s this really odd and quite frankly baffling misconception amongst VR gamers that just because something is developed for VR, you need a monster machine. It all depends the quality of game’s optimization and graphical fidelity. As a developer, if you manage your expectations of the hardware properly, you should be a VR game running in fairly minimal machines.

          • Lucidfeuer

            It’s true that VR is not that big of overhead especially with the recent various optimisations.

            But optimisation and graphical fidelity are of utmost importance, in VR more than on a screen, because the whole scene is filing your field of you. And if we’re talking about Zelda, Mario or F-Zero in VR, I wouldn’t want it to look like crap.

    • LowRezSkyline

      Funny comment, it ignores the importance of high quality software and game design. After getting a Switch for my birthday a little over a month ago I’ve stopped playing VR entirely. It took playing Mario and Zelda, among others, for me to realize what a wasteland of pointless shit VR is right now. Not a single original game out there. Nothing compelling, nothing truly Triple-A except ports of games I already played, and they all suck when shoehorned into VR.

      I suspect if this is real and a LABO VR Edition comes out Nintendo will embarrass pretty much every single VR software developer with their ’15 year old technology’, cause guess what game play trumps everything else.

      And no I don’t expect it to be technically equal to my VIVE; I do expect it to be far superior in fun though.

      • Lucidfeuer

        Fair point, can’t say anything about Nintendo’s game design craft since they’re the rare left with it. The Switch still is a crap device, and I hope Nintendo already plans on releasing a better, more compact and up-to-date Super Switch.

      • Veron

        I think you’re overestimating the capabilities of the Nintendo Switch.
        Their games ARE fun, but the hardware is too weak for substantial VR, has no positional tracking and a low res LCD screen.

        Funny you make a comment about Labo…the software itself is pretty basic and has not always been ‘fun’, in the case of the robot kit.

      • I haven’t touched my Switch, since Skyrim and Fallout VR are absorbing all of my time. :p

  • Lurker

    Ben, this is not a program that was “uncovered” by modders, this is a
    homebrew program written by them. Nintendo didn’t make this, homebrew
    devs did. Please do a bit more research, like checking their twitter
    accounts.
    https://twitter.com/OatmealDome/status/1028026390531264512

  • Aeroflux

    It would be nice for Nintendo to lead the charge as they have before long ago. I’m glad they didn’t enter with the Switch. That would be an action comparable to the 3DHead disaster. I would prefer the Nintendo I know prior to Wii to take the wheel. VR is not for the timid consoles, and it will soak up any amount of power you give it. The opportunity for innovation is great, about as great as the opportunity for falling on one’s face (virtual boy). If they take it seriously–and they should–we could have a real contender for affordable VR.

  • Facts

    That would have been one heavy headset

  • WyrdestGeek

    It’s probably something they tried out, then realized it was no good– i.e. hardware not up to the task.

  • I owned two Virtual Boys. Nintendo has ALWAYS had an eye towards VR. They will undoubtedly return once VR can be made to work well on mid-level equipment.

    Here’s some future prediction (all based on typical Nintendo MO):
    The first Nintendo VR console will have eye-tracking and FOV rendering. This will take place at least 2 years after all other PC VR HMD’s have Eye-tracking and FOV rendering has fulfilled it’s full promise. Since the Oculus and VIVE won’t renew their hardware until at least late next year, I’m guessing this new Nintendo VR Console won’t see the light of day for maybe 3 to 6 years.

    Since the Switch is doing so well with it’s semi-portable setup, they’ll most likely use a Puck-and-Glasses setup, like the Magic Leap is using now. It’s power will be comparable to a really-high-end smartphone of the time.

    Mario will be 3rd person like Lucky’s Tail and Zelda will be 1st person. A 1st-Person Metroid, aka like the old GameCube title, might be a launch game.

    They’ll use inside-out tracking.

    The console will feature some AR, but it’ll be underwhelming. The title most likely to use AR will be Pokemon Go. Yes, they will actively encourage people to go out into the big-bad world again, like all of the world was as safe as Japan. Muggings will happen….

    And, of course, this VR/AR portable console will have a completely nonsensical name that’ll baffle people.

    I’ll be at Best Buy at mid-night on launch day to get one, but I won’t use it nearly as much as PC and other consoles. I’m always way too hyped for Nintendo consoles and portables, and I never use them as much as others.

    You can bet there are people at Nintendo already working on this…