Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit (Switch) Review
So far Nintendo’s Labo experiment has proven to be a little bit of a mixed bag. There’s no doubt there’s some truly special engineering going on here by turning sheets of cardboard and using all of the Joy-Con features like the IR camera and gyro to become all manner of different things. However, the meat and potatoes of Labo, the games so far have been a little underbaked. The Variety Kit was just that, a variety of small experiments that while interesting don’t last very long. The Robot Kit was a one trick pony, albeit an interesting thing to build. Now some time has passed and we’re onto the third Toy-Con, the Vehicle Kit.
Like the Variety Kit, it does offer a number of different things in the box, a wheel (and pedal), flight stick and a submarine. But instead of putting those kits around one idea, like the Robot does, you’ve got a number of different modes and activities to do.
The Vehicle Toy-Con are all complex, and the three main inputs – wheel, stick and submarine all take hours to do each. The game even recommends you try to finish on the next day at some point. The complexity means that to really enjoy everything you’ll need to build everything which will take you about 4-5 hours, depending on your age. The pedal is the first thing to build (you can build of out of order after this, but don’t). Once you’ve finished the pedal you can jump into a simple game of slot car racing which just uses the pedal, it’s a good introduction and it works really well.
To get to the good stuff, you’re going to have to get creasing.
All of the Toy-Con included in this kit are great fun to build, these intricate machines all do more than you think they would. The wheel has a reverse level, levels on each side that can act as different tools. You can change between the tools with a knob of the end of the level. Remember all this is doing it with cardboard. The flight stick has a fully mechanic trigger and the submarine is so interesting to see working – they even put slots on the top of the main body so you can see it all working in there. The best part is, for the main adventure mode at least you can switch between the car, sub and plane just by removing and re-inserting the key from machine to machine. You can go from flying around, to driving to diving in seconds.
The adventure mode is where you’re going to spend most of your time with this kit. It’s an open map with a bunch of objectives broken up into different biomes. You’re given tasks to complete like rounding up cows, shooting balloons, attaching the head of a sphinx back on and each part of the map its own set of challenges.
Whizzing around in the car and plane are simple fun, the submarine is a little slower and cumbersome but rewarding once you get it doing what you want. The main adventure world is also used for a rally mode where you travel through checkpoints (you unlock more tracks by doing more missions in the adventure mode). Other modes include standard circuit racing, the slot cars and you can import your tracks from the Variety Kit if you had any made.
There’s also a battle mode, which does probably work best if you have two vehicle kits but you don’t have to. You can play it by yourself with CPU, but there’s not much challenge. Luckily Nintendo has figured out you’re probably not going to buy two kits and allowed for custom controls. This means you can use a Joy-Con on the side to play some of the games instead of having the whole kit and kaboodle.
The Vehicle Kit is definitely the best Labo kit so far, it has the best of the Variety Kit, actual variety and the best of the Robot Kit and that’s a proper game. It’s also a lot of fun to build, even if it does take a while to get started. The Adventure mode is leaps and bounds over anything in the other kits and the other included modes are just a nice icing on the cake. If you only pick up one Labo kit, it’s this one.
+ Fun build process, if a little long
+ Fleshed out games and modes
+ Garage shines, if you got the brain for it
- Game world is a little bland and empty
- A long build time before you get to the adventure
- Does take up a lot of room