An update to the 3DNES emulator is out, and it enables it to work with virtual reality headsets. This brings your old 2D Nintendo Entertainment System classics into a play space right in front of you so you can look in and around them using an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive head-mounted display.

Developer Geod Studio first introduced the emulator in 2016, and it has spent the last several years trying to get it to work in VR. 3DNES is available for $10 on Itch.io, but you can also try a demo of it for free. I’ve previously tried 3DNES prior to its VR patch, and it is strange to see how some games translate from 2D to 3D. Geod uses the same old games that ran on an NES, but it stretches those sprites out onto their own planes to render the action in three dimensions.

With 3DNES VR, Geod has made a number of improvements to how the games render. It also gives players a number of controls over the 2D-to-3D process to enable each player to get the visual effects that they want.

The results are often stunning. For example, you can make Mega Man look like a plastic toy set or diorama. Or you can play Super Mario Bros. 3 from behind Mario instead of as a side-scroller. It’s bizarre and a novelty, but having the option to then have these games exist right in front of you in VR can potentially breathe new life into them.

In addition to the 3D conversion, 3DNES VR also supports play on typical displays and includes save states, zipped ROMs, and ultra high resolutions.

I’m gonna try this out this week and report back on my experience. We’ll see if I can play through all of Zelda or Super Mario Bros. in virtual reality.

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