The way Nintendo’s expanded the ways to play with the Nintendo Switch is astounding. While not every peripheral was a hit over the years, like R.O.B, which only worked with two games on the NES, or the Power Pad, which never took off. Luckily, with the Labo series, Nintendo has found something that brings families together and allows for creativity to flourish.
Over the years, while some peripherals felt gimmicky and with lasting appeal, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how much fun building these Nintendo Labo kits are with kids or even on your own. This is something you can spend a morning working on and by afternoon allowing the kids to enjoy the fruit of their labor.
So, if you weren’t aware, or haven’t had hands-on time with a Labo kit before, it’s easy to understand what to do. Kits are available that include all the necessary cardboard bits to build whatever kit you’ve chosen. In this case, with the Vehicle Kit, the box holds all the games for the Vehicle Kit as well as instructions on the game cartridge.
From there, you’ll follow a series of well-detailed instructions that won’t cause any arguments like many DIY projects seemingly create. Start to finish, this shouldn’t take overly long and by the afternoon you should have all three modules built and ready to play with. In roughly six hours we completed each module and were ready to go, less than the amount of time Nintendo’s suggested time frame of eight hours. Each piece is necessary to play in Adventure mode.
Building the Toy-Con Pedal, Toy-Con Car, Toy-Con Plane, and Toy-Con Sub, and lastly, the Toy-Con Key, features cardboard wizardry. Assembling each module feels good and I found myself having more fun building the pieces than playing the game. Well, that was true, until Nintendo released Mario Kart 8 Deluxe compatibility for the Toy-Con Car, which has been a blast to play with the cardboard wheel.
Each piece of cardboard is sturdy and slotting the cardboard pieces together is done with little worry. Pieces don’t feel like they are fiddly. If anything, I was exponentially relaxed assembling these pieces together as I followed the coherent guide from Nintendo, the video full of the company’s charm with each step taken.
Even my cousins who are all under 12 years of age had minimal downtime with building the included modules. I was genuinely impressed once again by the care Nintendo put into assembling the instructionals for these kits. This is meant to be done with children while lending them aid when needed.
As it were, the quality for each Labo Kit is remarkable. The durability of each creation after hours of handling by an eight-year-old as well as a three-year-old, showcase why Nintendo’s peripherals are some of the best in the market. Each kit is mostly cardboard assembled by the customer, so seeing the final product not only finished, but working in tandem with the Nintendo Switch is an extraordinary thing.
After finishing assembling the modules, you’re free to play the included games on the cartridge. Adventure Mode brings together all the assembled pieces for an open world adventure. There are several environments to explore that range from meadows to cities and within those regions are several missions each to complete.
Most of the missions are straightforward so you won’t have a tough time completing the requirements. One mission, for example, may ask you to find a gas station to fill up your tank while another mission needs you to pop balloons.
Moreover, there is also a Play section with many minigames to play. Included are:
- Circuit – which features several tracks to race your cars
- Slot Cars – a top-down racing game
- Rally – a checkpoint-based rally race game that uses the environments from Adventure Mode
- Battle – a vehicular combat game
- Paint Studio – an area to customize your car, plane, or sub
A small nitpick I found was refilling the vehicles with gas. It’s frequent enough that it becomes a bother but not so much it’s an annoyance. The mechanic feels a bit shoe-horned in for my liking but at the end of it, I understand the need for children to experience this action.
Also, there’s a Garage mode where you can create your own games to play. Using an input-output system to create actions and then output them, allowing children to explore the tool shop and handle the way Joy-Cons react to their actions is undoubtedly a highlight for me. Seeing my cousins at least try to create their own projects is worth the price.
To summarize, the Nintendo Labo series is wonderful. There’s been a lull since the first two kits launched earlier this year, but things are seemingly picking up. The Vehicle Kit is easily the best one out of the three available and offers more gameplay than the other kits. I hope Nintendo finds a way to integrate the cardboard kits into their games as they have with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, allowing owners to use their creations for more than one thing.
[A unit was provided by the publisher for review purposes]
- Neat modules to build with kids, or friends
- Implementation to work with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- Toy-Con Garage is worth trying out
- Game mods are better than before, but still not full games