If you want something done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself.
I think it’s fair to say most of us are familiar with the concept behind fan-made video games. Hard-core devotees with some spare time and at least partial game development knowledge take it upon themselves to help bring their interest–whether it be a specific show, movie, story, or simply a character–to life in an interactive format.
Today, VR is no exception. In its relatively short lifespan, dedicated fans of modern VR technology have already contributed to an impressive catalog of independent “fan-made” experiences featuring some of entertainments biggest properties.
To shine a light on this growing community of talented creators, let’s take a look at five mind-blowing VR experiences crafted by passionate fans. The following games are available to download for free, although you may have to do a wee bit of digging.
WOLFENSTEIN 3D VR
A lovingly-crafted virtual recreation of the beloved 1992 first-person shooter, few fan-made VR games can hold a candle to Wolfenstein 3D VR.
Developed by a team of hardcore fans over at Further Beyond Studios, Wolfenstein 3D VR takes the tried-and-true formula of id Softwares legendary WWII shooter, Wolfenstein 3D, and redesigned ten labyrinth-like levels from the ground up to include support for a VR headset and motion controllers.
Players can look down the sights of their Walther P38 and take down Nazi’s in close-quarters with the trusty boot knife throughout multiple beautifully-retextured environments. New additions, such as realistic blood and a realistic weapon skin for the P38, also add a fresh new take to the adored title. They’ve even included the legendary dog mod that allows you to gently pet enemy pooches to sleep.
Strap on some armor, grab a handful of treasure, and take down Hitler in this well-crafted recreation available now on the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.
DUEL MONSTERS VR
The concept behind Duel Monsters, the fictional card battle game featured in the hit manga/anime series Yu-Gi-Oh!, lends itself well to VR technology. Being able to bring all the outrageous monsters featured throughout the series to life in a virtual arena seems like a dream come true for any fan of the franchise.
Apparently, the team over at Sloth Paradise thought the same thing, introducing Duel Monsters VR earlier this year for PC VR headsets. This impressive online multiplayer VR experience allows fans to step into the roles of the shows main protagonists and battle one-another in deadly Shadow Games using actual character decks.
“You get to duel on a Kaiba Corp blimp. You can use Yugi’s and Joey’s decks from Battle City; duel against your opponent just as you would in the show,” states Sloth Paradise.
As this is an unsanctioned creation completely independent of series creator Kazuki Takahashi, or any other corporations tied to the license, getting your hands on Duel Monsters VR is a little tricky. The original download link has since been taken down, so you’ll need to do a little digging online. I’d suggest finding a friendly user on Reddit that can send you an invite to the official discord server containing the download link. Apparently, it’s a very friendly community more than happy to assist new players in getting started.
SUPER MARIO BROS. VR
Despite being a relatively simplistic test scene, SMB VR is the closest thing we have to a Mario Bros. VR game, and honestly, creator Nimso Ny did a fantastic job recreating the nostalgic 1983 classic.
Users take on the role of Mario, traversing a 3D rendition of a classic Mario Bros. level. Using motion controllers, players can punch blocks, collect coins, and jump over–or on top of–Goomba enemies. It’s absolutely bizarre getting to experience a classic Mario level not only in VR, but from a first-person perspective, looking straight down the linear course.
Fantastic music, well-designed character models, and noticeable attention to detail makes this prototype test scene feel like a fully fleshed-out level from a quality VR game. SMB VR is available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets here.
Speaking of classic side-scrollers reinvented for a 3D VR format, Contra VR is another prime example of the potential impact 80’s gaming could have on modern VR. Developed by the team behind the PP Gun–a haptic weapon peripheral for various VR experiences–as a way to help promote the device, Contra VR offers an immersive 3D recreation of the boss battle featured on Level 3: Waterfall; my second favorite boss featured in the series (shoutout to Garmakilma). Available on the HTC Vive, players use the headsets room-scale tracking to evade incoming projectiles as they open fire on the dragon-like alien, taking out each of its vulnerable tentacles one by one.
Regardless of its short duration, Contra VR is a testament to the potential impact retro gaming could have on modern VR experiences. Download a build of the demo here to takedown Gromaides and save the day.
VIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S: A VR FAN-REMAKE
Before Lionsgate announced their official VR spinoff, Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted, we had Vive Nights at Freddy’s: A VR Fan-Remake. An early access room-scale build for the HTC Vive, VNAF is a painstaking recreation of the FNAF universe in the virtual space, offering long-time fans of the series an even more terrifying way to play.
Thanks to a mashup of textures and meshes from various artists, everything in this lovingly-crafted experience looks fantastic; from the unsettling animatronics sculking throughout the shadows, to the decrepit walls of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. Players use their motion controls to interact with security monitors to how they would in the original, keeping an eye out for any blood-thirsty mascots attempting to sneak up on them.
The developer has been providing regular support since release, most recently launching a Halloween-themed update. Kill sometime between now and the release of Lionsgate’s official title right here.
While technicaly not a fan-made VR “game” necessarily, 3DNes is a fascinating emulation software that converts existing 2D NES titles into 3D experiences that can be experienced in VR. Games ported into the system are converted into 3D models by adding additional layers of depth to the 2D visuals, offering users a new perspective on classic gameplay.
3DNes was not included as part of the official list as the software costs $14.99 to download via itch.io. The games themselves, however, are accessed via common ROM files, which can be found fairly easily on multiple websites dedicated towards game emulation.
Are there any fan-made VR games we may have missed? Let us know in the comments! We’re always looking to shine a spotlight on the efforts of talented creators!