Imagine playing the original version of The Legend of Zelda in virtual reality mode using Oculus VR’s Rift headset. Never mind that no such mode’s ever existed, or that so much of the original 1986 Nintendo Entertainment System version’s charm — like all such visually abstract games of its era — lies in how you interpolate it’s pixel-laden 2D reality with your brain. With VR tech in the news again, it was probably a matter of time before someone translated a game like this into a wraparound 3D experience.
You know how earlier versions of Google Maps would take flat 2D imagery and scale it up to look vaguely 3D, stretching the map’s 2D textures around crude polygonal objects? That’s what appears to be happening here, your view tilted up to witness the game’s blocky forests and rock walls, now rising like steps Minecraft-style to parade against a sunlit, cloud-spread sky. When you run into over-world critters, zigging and zagging and popping off slow-moving projectiles as before, they now appear as they would have to Link had he been a Doom-like, sword-thrusting character of the third dimension.
YouTube users Vaecon, who posted the video demonstration above, describes the game as a “VR clone” of the original The Legend of Zelda, claiming “the gameplay and artwork are virtually identical to the original NES classic.” He’s not just airing a cool-looking proof of concept, either: Vaecon says you’re in fact observing a beta version of the project, and that a full, working and playable translation of the game is on the way for Rift users next month. I’m not sure how that shakes out in terms of legality, but Vaecon says the game will be downloadable for free at Oculus Rift app connector site virtualreality.io.
You can see where this sort of thing might be headed. Imagine a VR clone of Super Mario Bros. or Donkey Kong or Metroid, or — let’s leap forward a bit — of Super Mario 64, GoldenEye 007 and the original Perfect Dark. If this whole revivified virtual reality headset movement turns out to have mass market appeal, the sky’s the limit.
Sidebar: whoever’s narrating the demo is unintentionally amusing. See 2:08 — “What does the beeping mean?”