Nintendo LABO Starter Kit + Blaster Review
Nintendo LABO has been a fairly successful franchise for Nintendo ever since it was announced and released in 2018. From toy houses to fishing equipment, and now even to VR, Nintendo has taken the LABO idea, thrown in a bit of quality cardboard, and created something that seems really dumb in concept, but provides hours of enjoyment!
And I’ll be upfront and honest: when I first saw the trailer for Nintendo LABO way back in 2018, I was incredibly skeptical. Cardboard creations that can be used in gaming? These things are going to end up in the recycling bin before the end of the month. Now, over a year later, I have a dedicated LABO box in my games room full of incredible cardboard creations.
And this past week we added to that box with the latest release from Nintendo, LABO VR + Blaster Kit. The VR bundle is shipping in two ways, the complete kit with a few other contraptions, and the Starter Kit which includes the VR headset, the blaster, and a pinwheel. Thanks to Nintendo of Canada, we were able to take the VR headset and blaster for a spin over the weekend, and my kids went nuts for it.
The build difficulty for this set was actually quite high, compared to some of the other LABO builds that have been released so far. My 5-year-old son was not able to get past the first few steps, and even my nine-year-old required significant amounts of help to get the set put together. The headset is the easy part of the build, and took less than 30 minutes to fully put together. The blaster, however, with the help of my son, took about 2+ hours!
Once together, however, the blaster and VR headset are very sturdy; I never once was concerned about the stuff falling apart. The thick cardboard that Nintendo packs into these kits are much more durable than I originally thought. Again, I have a Day-1 kit from the first LABO release, and all of those items are still in better than expected condition, even after all this time.
The VR headset can be used on its own, with attached Joy-Con controllers, or with the various accessories, which in my case was limited to the blaster. With a number of games available to be played – some that involve sports, racing and driving, shooting, and more – my kids easily spent hours upon hours using this device; for 49.99 CAD, this seems like a no-brainer of a purchase for those with kids.
Adults will find a lot less to be excited about with this package. I enjoyed my time with the handful of games included in the package, but it is never going to be more than a one-sitting experience. My kids, however, will use the device over and over again, for the next few months I would imagine.
The Toy-Con Garage is back, allowing more knowledgeable creators to make their own creations and gadgets, using a “if this then what” model of connecting buttons and motions to specific actions. It’s as easy to use as the other Toy-Con Garage experiences in past kits, but the savvier you are with these types of experiences, the more you will get out of your own creations.
While the kit overall is mostly fantastic, there are a few missteps I wish Nintendo would have addressed. Unless I missed it during the build phase – which I don’t believe I did – there is no strap to hold the VR headset to your head. I understand this to a point: you don’t want the headset to slip and crash to the floor, with your Nintendo Switch screen inside. That being said, having to connect your Joy-Con to the Switch screen and then hold it up to your head to play is pretty annoying. With the big VR update coming to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I’m not sure I can play much of the game having to hold my hands up near my face.
With a strap, and the ability to use Joy-Cons in my hands and away from my face, this set would mirror the more expensive VR headsets being offered by other companies. While the risks of having your Nintendo Switch fall to the floor inside the VR headset, enough padding could be added so that, if it were to happen, your Switch would be protected.
With a more user friendly way to play with the device, I could see myself using it a lot more than I plan too. While I am excited for the Zelda and Super Mario Odyssey content that is planned for later this year, the limitations on how I can interact with those games has me a bit less excited about the updates.
That being said, this is still a fantastic device, one that all ages will get some measure of enjoyment out of, but understanding that kids will get the most mileage. If you have a few younger gamers in your home, this is 49.99 well spent!