You’re thinking about buying the new Nintendo Labo VR so you can play the Breath of the Wild in full 3D, but you just went to your electronics store of choice and lo and behold, there are two products to buy. On one hand you could grab the Nintendo Labo VR Starter Set, which comes with the oh so important goggles and the blaster for $40. You could instead pick up the full $80 Nintendo Labo VR Kit, which includes the goggles, blaster, camera, elephant, and more.
Maybe the elephant is just that intriguing to you, or maybe you saw that convincing Labo commercial for the full set. Still you might be on the fence about the whole concept of Nintendo VR. So what’s the deal?
1. Make sure you know the deal behind Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild’s VR Modes
If you’re expecting to have full 60fps with those crisp clean Nintendo Visuals, you may want to check out why that might not work out first.
2. There is no strap for the VR goggles, and there’s a reason for that
Playing in VR for more than a few minutes at a time is, well, unfortunately nauseating. Actually, depending on your ability to deal with motion sickness, it might just be headache inducing. I fall in the latter category. I can handle all the jostling in the world, but between the resolution and the heavy motion blur, you’ll be trying to get as far away from the goggles as possible after a ten minute session.
Nintendo knows this, and it’s clear in the design of the Labo’s built in games. Every bit of the Labo software is meant to be taken in bite sized chunks.
3. The goggles alone take about thirty minutes to an hour to build.
There’s no out of the box option here, and depending on your attention span, work area, and pets attracted to cardboard (see cats) it can take a little bit of your day away. This is a plus for some, but some of the more complicated Toycons will take multiple sittings if you get bored easily. Thankfully the goggles are probably the simplest to put together.
4. No seriously, follow the instructions
I tore a nail trying to take off one of the hard plastic bits that I was so sure was the next step. Better safe than sorry.
5. All together, there’s more build time than play time.
The full kit takes around ten hours to put together, and less than that to see all the playable content. Each Toycon has one larger game, and a handful of smaller mini games. The blaster for instance has a neat rail shooter with a handful of levels, and a few much smaller shooting gallery mini games that can be exhausted in about ten minutes of play. Keeping in mind that I spent about three hours building the blaster and about one playing with it, I’m not exactly thrilled, despite how impressive the thing is. Which brings me to my next point…
6. Toycons are super impressive
Whoever designed the Labo Toycons are wizards. Putting together the blaster was actually kind of wonderful seeing how each piece fit in each little nook. How could a gun made of cardboard and rubber bands feel this good to hold, be this sturdy, and make such loud firing noises. Yeah, maybe I’m not going to ever touch this thing again, but it’s cool as hell, so I think that counts for something.
7. The content is there, but maybe not the content you want
There’s a lot to do with each Nintendo Labo set. You can build accessories for most of them, customize the looks, create your own tiny minigames, and more. Unfortunately I had this kind of hope that the game itself would be bigger. Learning is cool and all, but I really just want ten more levels of alien shooting.
There’s also this terrifying video section including a giant Mario pulling things from your mouth.
8. “But where are the other $40?”
So if you bought the full $80 kit, you’re getting a lot more value but mostly in the form of more Toycons. Each Toycon, like I said earlier, has one fleshed out game mode, and a few smaller minigames. Here’s a small breakdown of each one. We don’t know if Nintendo is planning support for any of these like they did for the Toycon steering wheel and Mario Kart 8, so for now assume this is what you’re getting.
Toycon Goggles: The headset itself. Required for all other Toycons in the set, but has its own share of minigames.
Toycon Blaster: The gun. Lets you play the Alien Shootout and competitive hippo feeding multiplayer games.
Toycon Bird: It’s a cardboard bird… Flap its wings while playing a relaxing flight sim.
Toycon Wind Pedal: A foot pedal for playing the frog jumping game. Avoid balls by jumping. Can also be combined with the Toycon Bird for faster flight.
Toycon Elephant: An elephant with an articulated trunk. Lets you play a fairly robust 3D painting app, and a 3D marble puzzle game.
Toycon Camera: A 3D aquarium photo game, but also a 3D little monster dude photo game.
Toycon Pinwheel: This one doesn’t get talked about nearly as much, since it doesn’t have a full game to itself. It has a few shooting galleries where you blow into the pinwheel to fire.
Other Minigames: There’s quite a few minigames that can be played with each Toycon, but for the most part they feel more like incredibly small tech demos. Fun for a quick VR dive, but definitely not enough to keep your attention.
9. And finally, the VR works well, but it’s the worst on the market
I love VR, that’s why I didn’t hesitate to buy the full $80 kit. I knew exactly what I was going to get as far as quality was concerned, and while I think it’s the best we could hope for on Switch, it’s definitely not high quality VR. Within the Labo games, there are no frame drops, which is great, and the assets themselves are quality. That resolution though, boy oh boy. I don’t know exactly what the output is for each eye, but seeing as how my five year old smartphone has a higher resolution, you know it’s not great.
You will be able to count the pixels, and at times it definitely feels like looking through a fine mesh. Any phone with a gyroscope can output at higher quality than this, but of course these experiences are exclusive to Nintendo. Time will only tell if more games will end up with Labo support, but as of right now, the case has been made, and only you can determine if it’s worth it after all.
If you’re just looking to try out Breath of the Wild or Mario Odyssey in VR, then the $40 starter set is your best bet. If you’re more arts and crafts oriented, then there’s definitely worse ways to kill a couple of weekends putting together the whole $80 kit. If you’ve been fiending for a VR fix, and all you have is the Switch, well, it’s a nice way to get your feet wet, but it’s a bit shallow.