Nintendo Labo Variety Kit Review – The Switch has re-established Nintendo as the video-game company for family fun.
It connects to a TV, but can also be undocked and carried around, giving you a tablet-like screen to play on and proper joysticks to twiddle.
Labo takes the whole thing even further with a set of cardboard models that integrate with the Switch’s detachable Joy-Con controllers to create the kind of smart toys that kids (of all ages, from eight to 80) could previously only dream of.
There are two initial Toy-Con sets: the Variety Kit, with five desktop-size models, and the Robot Kit. The latter creates a full-size backpack attached by strings to arm and leg sensors so you can stomp around in real life controlling a giant robot on the screen.
Constructing each Toy-Con is part of the fun and a challenge, potentially taking a couple of hours apiece. If you’re thinking about getting Labo to share with the grandkids, rest assured that the instructions will see you through. There’s also a growing YouTube channel with tips and tutorials.
The piano, remote-control car, motorbike, house and fishing rod each have their own activities. House is the most enigmatic, supplied with three tools that you insert to feed a virtual monster that lives inside. Motorbike is a pair of handlebars that you can use to race around tracks. You can scan your own tracks, drawn on paper, into the game. The RC Car uses vibrating Joy-Cons instead of wheels to scuttle around under your control.
Exploring further reveals that Toy-Cons can interact, producing new on-screen objects and environments. When you’re ready to go further still, the Toy-Con Garage lets you set actions – for example, make one Joy-Con vibrate when you shake another – to create your own activities, maybe even with your own DIY toys. All they need is places to slot in the Joy-Cons.
An innovative idea brilliantly realised, Labo is a must-have for every Switch owner and another reason to buy one
Labo Robot Kit
For kids seven and up, this backpack and visor puts you in the action and makes gaming physical
Set of five cardboard toys • Requires Nintendo Switch • Recommended for ages three and over • Includes strings, eyelets, rubber bands • No glue or cutting required