Nintendo's fourth Labo Kit for the Nintendo Switch is all about VR. This is how it works.
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.
All the Labo creations slot the cardboard goggles in and act as unusual but functional accessories for VR games.
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.
Get ready: Labo is a lot of cardboard folding and instruction following. The VR Kit took about 10 hours to put everything together.
The Goggles are like Nintendo's Google Cardboard: They're lenses, and the software and Switch do the rest.
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.
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.
The back of the box shows the other things you can do, including lots of easter eggs and programmable projects.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Putting together Labo is somewhat easy thanks to Nintendo's excellent animated instructions, but kids will get tired and probably ask for help.
The Switch will probably need a recharge midway through construction.
The Discovery area of the game engages in some basic education on VR optics and how the cardboard creations work.
A look at the various things you'll make, and the estimated construction time.
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.
Labo VR is full of suggestions on setting up the headset, and also taking breaks.
Some mini games aren't VR at all: This tilting maze, for instance.
The Blaster: I'm not wild about having my kids shoot things.
The Blaster is a pretty fun arcade game, though, and tame.
A lot of the cardboard creations get tiring to hold after a while: This one has a lot of arm movement.
Another look at The Blaster.
The Elephant is the oddest and yet most practical creation: It offers accuracy for controls that wouldn't work otherwise.
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?)
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.
The Joy-Con is the beak! Very cute.
Yeah, the kids liked The Blaster.
Where do you store all this cardboard? Good question.
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?
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).
Putting together the goggles, and what's inside.
A look through before putting them on.