The Legend of Zelda on Oculus Rift Shows VR's Truest Power

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Steve Anderson
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The Legend of Zelda on Oculus Rift Shows VR's Truest Power

When the original Nintendo Entertainment System came out, way back in the 1980s, there were fewer bigger names around than The Legend of Zelda. In many ways one of the first open world games, the tale of brave warrior Link roaming a series of dungeons and connecting fields to defeat the evil wizard Ganon and rescue Princess Zelda were widely known and widely loved. But this beloved relic from the past holds a chunk of the future in it thanks to a recently released recasting of The Legend of Zelda specifically for the Oculus Rift, putting this classic title in a whole new perspective, and showing us just how strong this new platform can be.

By any standard save that of its own era, the graphics on The Legend of Zelda are poor. It's all eight-bit, sprites, limited colors, so on and so forth. No one would mistake this for Skyrim by any stretch. But when combined with the Oculus Rift, something notable happens: the graphics stop becoming a handicap and start becoming a serious asset. The sprites are given a vertical aspect in the conversion process, and now, thanks to that, it's impossible to see large portions of the map. You can only see what Link might have seen, so you don't see around corners. What would have easily been seen running around at, say, the bottom of the screen is now not visible from your position. You would have to approach the nearest intersection and turn to face the bottom of the screen in order to find whatever monster would have been previously seen.

The effect as a whole looks a lot like Minecraft, though with Octoroks and Tektites rather than Creepers and Endermen. But what this really shows is the kind of power that Oculus Rift can bring to the table. While The Legend of Zelda will always have nostalgia value for its players, it would likely pale in comparison to the games of the era. But now, thanks to the Oculus Rift, the game takes on a whole new life; just check out some of the video floating around YouTube. And yes, there was video of this floating around YouTube. It may sound crazy, but I can assure you it exists, at least as of this writing. I watched it myself, and man, it's something else. Video on this has been out for some time, but the value this yields in terms of gaming's future can be safely considered anytime.

If this is what can be done for a game that's nearly 30 years old, then what could be done for last generation's games? What can be done for this generation's games? Are we looking at what may well be the best way ever to bring games forward, and allow the old titles to shine again in the same way that the new ones are shining? Have we just effectively tripled or more the stock of games that are still worth playing?

It will be interesting, over the course of the next few months into several years, to consider just what the impact of the Oculus Rift on gaming will be, and to actually see what it can do right before our eyes. We all know that this has a variety of different possible impacts on everything from education to travel and beyond, but it might well be that its purpose as originally intended, as a gaming peripheral, may well prove to bring the effects that are the widest felt.