Review: Nintendo Labo - Toy-Con 03: Vehicle Kit
Posted 29 Sep 2018 at 07:38 by Ashley Jones
The uniquely Nintendo Labo series is back for the third offering, this time taking the form of vehicles. Nintendo Labo: Toy-Con 03: Vehicle Kit allows play-makers to turn pieces of cardboard into a pedal, a wheel, a key, a submarine and an air plane and features built-in games that turn those new peripherals into gaming experiences.
Like the kits before it, Vehicle Kit will appeal mostly to children or adults that get a kick out of crafting. The on-screen instructions are clear and the presentation vibrant, but the pacing and games on offer are clearly designed for a younger audience - which is by no means a complaint, this is a fantastic product for them.
When you open the box you’re greeted with a game case, many sheets of cardboard and ‘additional bits’ (elastic band, stickers, grip tape etc). Pop in the game cart and you can follow along with the on-screen instructions. It seems designed to be used in tabletop mode, but you can still use a controller and play it on the TV - although at times you’ll need to pop the Joy-Cons into your creations.
Instructions are presently clearly and at you can move and rotate the camera as well as scrub back and forth through the video. This means you can easily follow along, although the lack of auto-play made it a bit slower than I’d like as I was having to alternate between folding cardboard and progressing the video.
You start with a short Joy-Con holder tutorial to whet your whistle and then after that move onto the pedal. This is estimated to take about an hour, but I suspect the timings are for younger audiences so adults will finish it in about 45 minutes. The pedal comprises four main sections, which are built independently and then assembled at the end.
Once you’ve finished the pedal the first game opens up, a simple racing game where you use the pedal to increase the speed of the car across a variety of simple courses. The challenge is to find the perfect balance of pressure and its surprisingly not as simple a game as you’d expect. Up to four people can play using other Joy-Cons (unless they too have a pedal), but the game does make some suggestions for alternatives.
As well as the main build and play modes there is also the discover mode, an overtly twee section with vibrant characters explaining to you how it all works. This is an interest side of things, it’s just a shame it is aimed so aggressively at kids and can feel so patronising I felt myself losing interest.
Each of the main kits will take about an hour to make. They are surprisingly intricate at times (of fiddly, depending on how you want to look at it) but the on-screen guidance makes the whole thing a breeze. The end products themselves are surprisingly robust and don’t feel as fragile as you would expect from cardboard, providing you don’t spill a drink over them.
All-in-all it would take probably half a day’s work, maybe more if young children are involved, but it is a fun experience. It feels like a unique take on the LEGO build kits with the inclusion of a series of mini-games a nice bonus. Chances are once you’ve built them and played through the games you are unlikely to return to it, except for maybe to show it off when friends come round.
There is a Secret Lab mode that allows you to find new creative uses for the kit, but most people are going to make all the pieces, play the games and then perhaps let it gather dust for a while.
The support for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is bound to entice some gamers that want a rather unique wheel experience, or at least make people that brought Labo 03 feel like they’ve gotten more mileage out of it. Who knows, maybe other games will take advantage of the kit in the future (come on Nintendo, give us Wave Race), but if you've got Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and this Labo kit you're bound to give it a go every now and then.
My main gripe with the package is just simply how much space everything ends up taking (and to a lesser extent, all the popped-out pieces of cardboard that build up as you make it) but that’s the Londoner in me talking. It really is an impressive piece of kit. If you have younger children I can’t recommend it enough as it perfectly taps into their innate creativity and wonder. The recent Nintendo Labo Creators Contest shows that these kits inspire a lot of creativity and I hope for this reason alone Nintendo keep making them. Just make sure you recycle all the unused cardboard!
N-Europe Final Verdict
If you're into crafting, have young children or just want to spend an afternoon tickering with some cardboard we really recommend this or any of the other Nintendo Labo kits. It's inventive, creative and unlike anything else on the market.
Creative and fun experience
Fun little mini-games
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe wheel support
Unlikely to use it much after you've built everything