Nintendo aren’t exactly strangers to developing unique peripherals for their young and old fans to enjoy. From the Nintendo Power Glove to the Wii Fit balance board, it’s had its fair share of hits and misses. Then 2018 came, and Nintendo Labo arrived for the Nintendo Switch to a mostly good reception. To a lot of people’s surprise, including my own, Labo proved to be popular enough to grow as a product. As many of you will be aware of, Nintendo recently released their next venture into the world of cardboard-based peripherals with the Nintendo Labo: Toy-Con 3 – Vehicle Kit. Here are our thoughts…
When Nintendo first announced Labo in January 2018, many fans scoffed at the idea of a fun construction/gaming peripheral based around cardboard; in many ways we were wrong to do so. In a manner of speaking, Labo revolutionised the construction toy scene in a way that no one but Nintendo would ever think of. Most of your time with Labo will probably be spent building the numerous Toy-Cons bundled with the vehicle kit. These are: the pedal, the steering wheel, the joystick and a submarine, along with the optional extras like the spray paint can and the screen holder for the steering wheel. All of these creations are useless unless paired with the cardboard key made to start up every vehicle.
The first thing I noticed upon opening the latest kit was the increased complexity that was present throughout both the building process and the playing aspect of Labo. As with the last kits, this is managed without an overreliance on rubber bands and string. They are only used when necessary, such as the reverse lever on the steering wheel. As for the actual Toy-Cons, despite the fact that they are obviously made of cardboard, they are surprisingly robust and rarely ever feel like they are going to break. This time around, it isn’t only the Toy-Cons that are more complex; the *not so* mini-games are also more complex (most of the time…more about that later). As soon as you have built the pedal, the first mini-game, Slot Cars, is available for you to try. Slot Cars has you pressing down the pedal to speed up your car as you aim to get the fastest time around the various tracks without falling off the edges. This is one of the less complex games reminiscent of the previous Labo kits. Circuit is similar to Slot Cars except for the fact that it incorporates the steering wheel and is played from a first-person perspective. Paint Studio requires you to use the spray paint can to decorate your car in, unfortunately, very limited ways. It is probably the worst of all the mini-games.
The meat and potatoes of the vehicle kit is the new Adventure mode and, I have to say, I actually had a great time with it. With most construction-based games/toys, I always prefer the building element to the actual playtime; however, I found switching between the three vehicles to complete every objective to be extremely enjoyable. The Rally mini-game is a course-based racing game set in the same map that the Adventure mode takes place in. Finally, the Battle mode has you fight against another car in a Robot Wars-style battle scenario. There isn’t a lot of substance to these mini-games, which is why there isn’t much to say about any of them other than the Adventure mode as it is the only mini-game that you can spend more than 10 minutes on without it becoming tedious. It is also important to mention that an update for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe makes the Labo steering wheel compatible with the game. The controls work fairly well, but the steering can often feel quite fidgety, so I wouldn’t recommend using this over the standard Joy-Cons.
My biggest issues with Labo hasn’t got anything to do with the actual building element of the kits, it’s the mini-games. I feel as though there has been little thought put into all the mini-games except Adventure, and quite frankly, that isn’t enough. After the Toy-Cons have been built and played with a few times, they will more than likely never be played with again, and at almost £60 ($80), they are rather expensive dust collectors.
This is undoubtedly the best Labo kit so far, and if Nintendo keeps progressing in their D.I.Y Labo kits, this could become a really successful line of gaming peripherals. The price is at a considerable height for many consumers, but if you enjoyed the first two kits, you will enjoy this one even more.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 14th September 2018
Take a look at our review of the Nintendo Labo HERE