March 26, 2019
Almost a year ago, Nintendo debuted Labo, a DIY cardboard virtual reality kit for Switch. Now, the company is introducing its fourth kit, this one an intro to VR for children. Labo’s VR kit includes “simple and shareable” mini-games for multiple players, but requires users to hold the handset up to their faces. With the version for children, mini-games are designed for kids to pass around the screen and take turns, which Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser said encourages “both virtual and real-world interactions.”
The Verge reports that, “six Toy-Con creations can be made, including a blaster, camera, elephant, bird, and a pedal, in addition to a pair of VR goggles,” the latter of which “work in conjunction with the rest of the Toy-Con, slipping into each one (except for the pedal) to offer experiences like photographing underwater creatures.” There are 64+ mini-games in the Toy-Con garage; they are “meant to be a launching point for users to make their own VR games.”
The Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 04: VR Kit will be available online and in stores April 12.
The Verge reporter describes that goggles, which are constructed of plastic and glass lenses, are “the only non-cardboard piece in the kit besides the IR stickers and rubber bands.” The Switch, which offers 720p resolution, is blurry when at face level, but the stereoscopic 3D images “float in the screen.” The game can also be played in 2D via “the included Screen Holder, another Labo element for you to assemble.”
The kit comes with a blaster, which has “got a lot of moving parts, and works with rubber bands that hook and release when you load and pull the trigger.” A VR elephant mask and trunk are a 3D painting app; IR stickers on the mask track the two controllers placed in the trunk. The camera can be used “for an underwater fish photography game, or snap photos of the Tamagotchi-like character from the House game in the first Labo variety kit.”
To become a bird, the controller becomes a bird’s face; “I found it almost impossible to flap the bird’s wings without repeatedly bonking the plastic headset against my face, but it’s also impossible not to laugh as this is happening.” A pedal gives the user “an extra burst of speed when you’re playing timed challenges in Bird Dash mode” and also blows a gust of air at the user’s face, adding to the immersion. This tool can be used to play Hop Dodge, in which the user bounces on a trampoline and tries to go as high as possible without bumping into an obstacle.
The Labo VR Starter Set + Blaster costs $39.99; the entire VR Kit goes for $79.99.