Nintendo has certainly flirted with the idea of VR in the past, but once the Switch arrived on the scene, hopes of Nintendo pursuing console-based virtual reality were dashed. Unlike the PlayStation 4, the Switch doesn’t really lend itself well to virtual reality. That doesn’t mean that Nintendo is opposed to VR, it just needs to find the right platform for it first.
As it turns out, the correct platform for Nintendo’s virtual reality games is the arcade. Bandai Namco has revealed a new game called Mario Kart Arcade GP VR, developed on a license from Nintendo, that puts you front and center in hectic Mario Kart races. You can check it out for yourself in the brief trailer you see below – Mario Kart sure does look crazy from a first-person viewpoint.
Thanks to a video that The Japan Times posted back in June during E3 2017, we can see that Mario Kart VR relies on familiar virtual reality hardware. Namely, players will use an HTC VIVE to play the game in arcades around Japan. VIVE Trackers attached to each wrist track hand movement, allowing you steer and toss Mario Kart’s many items at your opponents.
If that sounds exciting, I agree. If you can’t wait play it, though, buckle in, because you’ll likely be waiting for a very long time. The Mario Kart Arcade GP series is one that Namco has been making since 2005, and though each installment has seen a release outside of Japan, there’s not much hope for this one coming Stateside. We can thank the decline in arcade popularity over here for that.
Still, there’s always an outside chance that we’ll see this game pop up outside of Japan in a few years, as Namco has announced plans to launch “VR zones” around the world, but expect those to be few and far between. If it does launch outside of Japan, in other words, expect it to be hard to find.
Who knows, though? Considering that this uses HTC VIVE hardware, perhaps we’ll see Nintendo to one day use that as a platform to expand into VR on a larger scale? That seems highly unlikely, but then again, we used to say that exact same thing about Nintendo expanding to mobile devices. With a handful of mobile titles now under its belt and more on the way, that should be enough to prove that anything is possible when we’re talking about Nintendo and its games.