Nintendo Labo VR Puts More Emphasis On Games

Nintendo's Labo sets are unique cardboard peripherals that encourage building and critical thinking. The first few sets, however, don't offer a long shelf lives or much replayability. So when the new VR kits were announced I was skeptical. It seemed like more of the same, despite the surface gimmick of Nintendo using virtual reality.

But the prospect of playing virtual reality games on my Switch is interesting enough, so I attended a special event to try out the new Labo Kit. I left excited, and wanting more.

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Nintendo addressed some of the problems I had with the other Labo sets. I always felt the Labo journey was better than the destination. Building the cardboard peripherals was a calm and relaxing way to engage with the product, especially if you're assembling with a child. But the games that came with it didn't have that replayability that would make the Labo creations more than just something I'd stick on a shelf and never pick up again.

The VR Kit, however, seems to be just as focused - if not more so - on the games than the building. Each Labo creation comes with one or two games with the Labo VR software including "VR Plaza," a place with 64 pre-built games as well as 64 more slots for future designers to create their own games using the VR Garage feature.

We played a few games from the VR Plaza. There was a platformer, a 2D brawler with the objective of knocking the opponent off the stage and a tabletop soccer game that played like air hockey.


The cool part was that you could play certain games in 2D mode so users don't have to use the VR components of this Labo set to enjoy the various titles. This is especially useful for anyone who may get motion sickness from playing VR games. I don't get motion sickness from VR games, but what I've played on other platform made my eyes hurt a little and I didn't feel that way using the Labo set.

It also works well with glasses. I tend to press the VR goggles against my face, but you can hold the goggles a little away from your face and still get the same experience.

I didn't get to mess around with the VR Garage feature a lot, but besides creating games and other functions using the creations from scratch, the VR Kit shows how Nintendo designers created the titles in the VR Plaza. Users can even take parts of certain games to start creating your own. It'll be fun to see what users do with this feature.

Each Labo VR creation was pre-built at the event, but Nintendo representatives told us that each creation takes about an hour to build, with the Blaster taking around 2-3 hours.

The Toy-Con Blaster is by far the best of the VR Kit. The main game is a rail shooter that puts you in various levels as you shoot aliens who are sprawled out in every direction. If you've ever ridden the Men in Black ride at Universal Studios, this has those same vibes. The mechanics of the Blaster itself work very well. You need to cock the barrel of the blaster to shoot, and there are time freeze mechanics. It's just a blast to play. This is the game I could see myself revisiting over and over.

The other game mode is a two-player mode where you need to shoot fruit at hippos to bring them to your side. It's a timed game, so gather up as many hippos as possible and then hand the blaster to your friend to see if they can beat your score.

Other VR creations have more relaxed and chill games, like the Camera where you are plunged into the ocean to take photos of various sea life while completing missions. The Elephant allows players to draw 3D models while the Bird lets you become … a bird. Fly around various levels finding eggs to hatch and food to feed your chicks. The Bird also has a racing game where you can face friends to test who is the faster flyer.

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The Windpedal can work with the Bird to boost your flying capabilities, but its standalone game makes players a frog who needs to jump over stacks of balls shot by robotic bears. This game is all about timing and gets progressively more difficult as you climb higher and higher into the stratosphere.

While we didn't have a ton of time with each game, they were all unique and implemented the Labo well. I'm looking forward to spending more time with each when the VR Kit comes out April 12.