Virtual reality is one of those things that seems supremely popular, but technology isn't always willing to keep up with people's expectations. PSVR among others are noble efforts for certain, but Nintendo has kept itself firmly within the old-fashioned 2D TV world with the Switch, at least for the time being.
That hasn't stopped third parties trying to muscle in on the craze though, and exklim is one such company with their NS Glasses. These promise a 3D experience compatible with all existing games using 'passive 3D' technology. The truth of the matter is different however.
Traditional VR headsets use two separate lenses, one for each eye, and require a screen or screens to show two separate images, one for each eye. The brain then does what brains do, and makes a 3D image in your noggin with depth and everything. The NS Glasses use two lenticular lenses that stretch the entire width of the device, one in front of the other. In theory this gives the wearer a 3D effect, but in reality it does little more than give you a headache.
The headset holds the Switch in place by using a large, red clip. This has been specifically designed for the console and it certainly shows, holding it firmly but safely in place with ridges and notches that allow it to sit neatly and without wobbling. Sadly once you put it on the weight of the console becomes apparent, and given the almost absurd length of the headset, it's not a comfortable time.
Given the nature of the device, it's extremely difficult for us to provide photographs that accurately represent how the image looks to the naked eye, as camera lenses and eyes don't work in exactly the same manner. As such we've provided both an actual photo (left) and a mocked-up recreation (right) to gives as true a representation as possible.
The screen becomes slightly distorted and blurred, hiding jagged edges, and a notable amount of chromatic aberration is present. This is when certain colours of light are offset slightly, giving an unusual colourful 'glow' around certain edges. It's distracting and unpleasant.
The image does not even remotely appear '3D', either. The only explanation we can think of for someone believing it to give such an illusion is the way the lenses cause the edges of the screen to appear blurrier than the centre, giving a similar look to tilt-shift photography. It's a stretch at best that this effect could be sold as 3D.
The manufacturer were also kind enough to send a second unit intended for developers. This behaves in much the same way, only considerably more intense, and is presumably designed for game-makers to create a version of their game which takes the distortion into account, but the blurring and chromatic aberration is also intensified, so it's really hard to see how this could work in practice.
The appeal of 3D gaming is still alive and kicking, and the ability to immerse yourself in an entire world without borders is indeed one that many have dreamed of for decades. Unfortunately, the NS Glasses not only fail to deliver such an experiences, but they actually make playing games more uncomfortable and the various distortions it provides are irritating and distracting.
It's a noble idea to bring the Switch into the VR space in any form whilst Nintendo refuses to do so, but this is a product that disappoints in nearly every facet.
Thanks to exklim for providing the headsets for review. If you want to learn more you can do so by clicking here.