NINTENDO Labo lets you build cardboard toys that interact with your Switch, and the latest pack for it is arguably the best yet.
The basic pack lets you build you very own VR headset and jump into the usually expensive world of VR for just £35, and works really well.
The sensitivity of the Switch’s own motion tracking is more than enough to track your field of view
We were very sceptical before trying it out, but were won over quickly.
As with the vehicles before it, building the headset is simple buy slightly fiddly, but what you end up with is robust and works really well, with a huge range of experiences on offer right out of the (sorry) box.
The games and experiences you’ve got on offer range from the very simple — manipulating a UFO catcher claw in 3D space to pick up some fruit — to a complete on-rails shooter.
One big selling point comes from one of the most obviously weird things about it — you need to physically hold your cardboard creations up to your face.
The obvious benefit here is that the ability to disengage instantly with the immersive experience means the whole thing can be rated 7+ rather than the usual 12+ or 16+ attached to VR games.
There’s a little more to it than that, though. There are multiplayer games which involve passing the headset around that work so much better this way, and the tactility of toys like the blaster really add to the experience.
As with all Labo kits, you get everything you need in the box, and the software comes with foolproof on-screen instructions that guide you through the building process
WHAT’S IN THE KITS?THE Starter Kit has the kit for the googles, and the blaster.
You need this for all ther other bits too, so don’t skip it unless it’s to get the whole shebang.
On top of that you can get the VR Kit 02, which features an articulated elephant trunk controller and camera or Kit 03 which comes with bird and wind pedal.
You can get them all in one big pack, but there’s no reason to — the RRP of the kits together is the same as the whole pack, so you may as well start with the basic pack and see if it floats your boat.
The easy of swapping the padded-cardboard case for the Switch from one to the other is great once you’ve set them all up, though, so switching from one to the other is a breeze — you don’t need to worry about extracting your switch from a bird’s behind or re-building your elephant every time you want to change games.
You can even set it up to use the Switch’s own daylight sensor, usually used to adjust screen brightness, so it automatically goes into VR mode when you put it in the darkness behind the goggles.
It’s also really well engineered.
You’ll fold up a padded case for your Switch that in turn slots into the front of the googles, with plenty of other failsafes to keep it in place, so there really does feel like there’s no risk of it accidentally coming a cropper if you get a little overexcited trying to shoot fruit for a pond full of hungry hippos or save a city from alien invasion.
The blaster features some core Nintendo ingenuity thanks to the side-mounted joy-con and pump-action reload, complete with recoil set up thanks to little more than internal weighting and elastic bands.
You can buy a cheaper starter kit and then buy expansions
What’s it like to play?
The software is great too. Whether you’re bouncing shots round corners or working out how to coax enough pesky fruit-loving hippos into your goal, the games are simple enough that they simply don’t require any explanation but complex enough to actually be engaging.
The one downside is that the Switch itself is constantly in the device, and so there’s no way of running the video on your TV as well.
While this is fine when you’re playing, it would be nice to have some ability to see and help while the action is going on, or that keeps you engaged during your opponent’s turn in pass-the-controller multiplayer games.
The blaster’s controls include a side-mounted rotating joycon holder, and one located on a carriage in the barrel of the gun itself
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But that’s not it. There’s also the Labo VR Garage thrown in too, which lets you build your own games, and remix any of the 64 originals that the system comes with.
These don’t even have to include VR — if you want to make a Super Smash Bros clone and play it on the TV, you can.
This clearly won’t be something everyone uses or would have any interest in, but for those who do it looks brilliant.
The combination of the simple tools and lots of existing templates means it’s a great tool for any kids with curious minds — and who knows, it might be enough to spur them into being the next Miyamoto.
PEGI 7+, out on April 12
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Find out how to build you own car, plane and sub with the Nintendo Labo: Vehicle Kit