You may have noticed that I am the VR guy here on TVGB, especially now that TVGB Vivestream has returned. I also checked the Nintendo Labo Variety Kit when it first came out. So I’m really surprised that I’ve taken so much time volunteering for this review. After much anticipation given the similar nature of the Nintendo switch phone, many of us expected the venerated videogame company to launch into the virtual reality game, but I do not think any of us expected this. Previous Lab kits were slightly successful, but they did not cause the greatest impact. Between that and the low resolution of the Switch screen, I (like most people) had mixed feelings about the idea of Labo VR. And then they announced that it would be compatible with Breath of the Wild, my favorite game of all time. So today we are going to talk about Labo’s VR start set, as well as its compatibility with Zelda and Mario.
Now, I covered the basic experience of Labo in my previous revision (see the previous link), but I will start by talking briefly about the building and the design. The basic kit includes the VR glasses and the Blaster, as well as a smaller project called Pinwheel. All these are quite easy to build. The instructions in the game work as well as before and have the same charm, although there are still some changes that I would recommend. On the one hand, it would be nice if there was an option to allow instructions to be executed automatically so you can keep your hands on what you are building. I would also like you not to have to go through every fold line. But I did not have many problems to put together the Blaster, which is by far the most complex version of the set, so it’s not that bad. I admit, however, that there were some parts of concern enough that I worried that it would break as soon as I started using it. Fortunately, he did not. The Toy-Con is really well designed, since once again the movements and the feedback give Labo its advantage over the regular movement controls. When you load the blaster, something inside really moves, and when you shoot, it shoots forward. Even the headset works quite well, although the lack of a headband was a really bad movement. It is fine when you are using the Blaster, but when you try to do something else, you must hold the handset with one hand and the controller with the other, or connect the controllers to the side of the Switch while it is On the handset and play that way.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the VR functionality. It’s pretty rough, as expected. The screen of the switch lacks the resolution of even a powerful smartphone, much less of something like the Live. Motion blur probably helps prevent motion sickness, but it can also be harmful. It is also important to keep in mind that there are no external movement trackers. That means that while the motion controls work well with the Joy-Con, the games can not track their position or the relative distance of the controllers. It is definitely not a full-featured VR system. But it’s a good way to test virtual reality at a low cost, beyond what you can do with something like Google Cardboard. While there is good software, one can see beyond the inadequacy of the hardware given the cheap and easy nature of the system.
NINTENDO LABO VR STARTER SET REVIEW
In that note, the software that comes with the Labo VR kit (whether you get the complete set or the Starter Set) is classified into some categories. There is a collection of games that you can play only with the headset and Joy Con. Some of these are actually quite fun. The drawback is that these games are very basic; at best they are demonstrations of low-level technology. The positive side is that they were all made with the integrated editor of the game. Using an expanded version of the old Lab Garage programming tool, players can move around objects and create their own miniature virtual reality experiments. It’s not exactly easy, but it’s a great feature, although I’d like the embedded games to be separate from the editor. There are also a handful of virtual reality videos included, and these are pretty funny. Clearly, the developers knew that the low power of the hardware meant that no video would look great, so the videos are more fun than visual. They are a good bonus addition, especially the one that is played through the opening of a Virtual Boy game.
The real games with the Starter Set, however, make use of the Blaster. The main game is simply called Blaster, and it consists of using the Toy-Con as a bazooka of energy to shoot the squishy aliens that invade a city. There’s not much detail or depth here (it’s still a Lab game), but there’s definitely a lot more at stake than in the games that come with the Variety Kit. I’ve had more fun with that than probably with all those games combined. It will not last you that long, but it is reproducible and works very well with the aforementioned aspects of the Blaster. I really hope that Nintendo will expand this game, either with a complement or as a standalone version. I’d love to see what Nintendo would cook with any AAA game focused on virtual reality, honestly. This feels almost like a ride in a theme park, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. My only complaint is that I still have to go to the Exploration section of the software to get real instructions for some of the features. The other game for Blaster is Kablasta, a multiplayer puzzle game. Your goal is to throw some cute hippos fruit to go to your side of the pool, but in reality there is a bit of strategy. You can align things so that one hippopotamus pushes another, or steals from your opponent’s side, for example. Of course, only the active player can see what is happening, but it is still a good addition to the kit.
Congratulations to Nintendo for taking Labo games more seriously this time, but I think the real attraction for many people (including myself) was the announcement that new virtual reality modes would be added to two of the Switch’s best games, Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. However, moderate your expectations; These games were not created with virtual reality in mind, so they do not suddenly become virtual reality games with this update. For Breath of the Wild, you can play through the entire game in VR mode. It’s great to see Hyrule up close with 3D images, but it does not feel exactly like a virtual reality. You can move the camera by turning your head, which helps, but in general it feels more like playing the game in 3D than anything else. And do not get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing. But I think if they just went ahead and added a first person perspective option to go with it, the experience would be much more immersive, even with the low resolution images. As for Mario, instead of presenting the whole game in virtual reality, the new mode has special mini levels set in three of the game’s realms. There are several minor challenges in these stages, and it is clear that many of them were designed to play with the depth that VR offers, as well as the 3D-focused sections in Super Mario 3D Land. The camera is fixed in these sections so that you feel as if you were really there, although it is not so successful. Even so, I enjoyed it, I thought I would have enjoyed it more if I did not have to put the thing in my face.