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Nintendo Labo VR Kit and its weird cardboard creations

What it's like to put together and use Nintendo's VR game package for Switch.

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Scott Stein, Sarah Tew
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Nintendo's fourth Labo Kit for the Nintendo Switch is all about VR. This is how it works.

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The $80 Labo VR Kit consists of 32 sheets of folding cardboard pieces, a plastic insert with lenses for the VR goggles, some rubber bands and plastic grommets and necessary stickers, and the game. 

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All the Labo creations slot the cardboard goggles in and act as unusual but functional accessories for VR games. 

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This is the kit that makes a blaster, a camera, a bird, an elephant, and a wind pedal, plus the goggles. A $40 kit includes just the goggles and blaster, and you could get the other parts in $20 mini-kits with two creations each.

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Get ready: Labo is a lot of cardboard folding and instruction following. The VR Kit took about 10 hours to put everything together.

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The Goggles are like Nintendo's Google Cardboard: They're lenses, and the software and Switch do the rest.

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All the games in Labo VR Kit can be played in non-VR mode, but some fare better than others or require specific controller setups.

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The graphics in most games are simple, blocky, but fun. They work well within Labo VR's more limited capabilities compared to other VR headsets.

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The back of the box shows the other things you can do, including lots of easter eggs and programmable projects.

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The Elephant is pretty brilliant. The extendable arm holds a Joy-Con controller, and the infrared camera reads reflective stickers on the elephant's face to turn it into a more accurate VR controller.

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Elephant works with a doodling app and a puzzle-creating game involving rolling balls. The extendable arm can be used to draw and grab in a limited space.

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The Blaster is a rifle you look through in the goggles, launching pellets at blob-like aliens. It cocks back and releases with a rear cardboard button.

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A look at the back of the goggles. The Switch slides right in and auto-switches to VR mode. A tappable area on top can click on areas on-screen.

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Nintendo Labo VR goggles (right) vs. Google Cardboard (left). Similar ideas: Both lack head straps, and you hold the goggles up to your face with your hands.

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Putting together Labo is somewhat easy thanks to Nintendo's excellent animated instructions, but kids will get tired and probably ask for help.

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The Switch will probably need a recharge midway through construction.

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The Discovery area of the game engages in some basic education on VR optics and how the cardboard creations work.

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A look at the various things you'll make, and the estimated construction time.

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A range of mini arcade-type games, all of which can be edited and tinkered with in a programmable Toy-Con Garage VR mode. It's a gaming construction set.

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Labo VR is full of suggestions on setting up the headset, and also taking breaks.

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Some mini games aren't VR at all: This tilting maze, for instance.

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The Blaster: I'm not wild about having my kids shoot things.

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The Blaster is a pretty fun arcade game, though, and tame.

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A lot of the cardboard creations get tiring to hold after a while: This one has a lot of arm movement.

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Another look at The Blaster.

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The Elephant is the oddest and yet most practical creation: It offers accuracy for controls that wouldn't work otherwise.

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It works well, but still feels like a hack than a perfectly-optimized way to do VR. (Maybe Nintendo will make a more advanced VR headset, someday?)

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My kids helped, too. The Bird is adorable, and you're basically looking into its butt. Not really: It's a bird simulator. Flap the wings, and you fly around an island.

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The Joy-Con is the beak! Very cute.

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Yeah, the kids liked The Blaster.

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Where do you store all this cardboard? Good question.

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The Camera has a twisting "zoom" lens that can snap pictures of sea creatures in an aquatic photo-taking mode or mini-game where you take pictures of a creature in a house. Where's the Pokemon Snap bonus game?

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Elephant in action. My youngest kid caught on quick (Labo VR's recommended age is 7 for VR games, which is significantly lower than other VR headsets).

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Putting together the goggles, and what's inside.

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A look through before putting them on.

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It was a long, fun weekend of making stuff! Read more about Nintendo Labo VR Kit in my review.

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