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Nintendo was and still is a gaming console powerhouse. The Japanese manufacturer doesn’t always rely on cutting edge hardware specification and performance, but what they do impeccably is fun and interactive use of existing technology to provide an engaging gaming experience that’s different from the rest. A great example was the Nintendo Wii console that was among the most popular despite its performance and graphics flaws. Innovative controllers and out of the box thinking sparked broad customer support. Their console counterparts reacted with their movement sensitive hardware, but couldn’t achieve such success.
Another chapter for Nintendo began with the Switch console. Again, Switch cannot compete with PlayStation or Xbox in raw performance but it’s an exciting concept of the classic and handheld console in one. You can play Zelda on your big screen TV, and continue on the go.
The Switch console has a 720p screen but can play 1080p video when connected to the external display. It is powered by an Nvidia Tegra chipset, supports microSD cards and has a battery capacity of 4310 mAh. You won’t finish Zelda Breath of the Wild on one charge, but it’s suitable for a couple of hours of fun. You can also charge the console with a power bank.
The Nintendo Switch has an exciting library of exclusive games with Super Mario titles and Zelda, as well as plenty of cross-platform games like Dark Souls, Skyrim, Minecraft, Fortnite, Mortal Combat, Doom, Wolfenstein II and many more. In 2018, Nintendo made a bold move with the introduction of Labo, a series of innovative gaming accessories.
What is Nintendo Labo?
Nintendo Labo is the name for a series of DIY gaming kits. You can build and play one of the existing creations or create and invent your own. Gaming Labo kits include everything you need for assembly as well as the games. The idea is to create gaming accessories, incorporate the console into the cardboard Toy-Con creations, and play games related to the Kit. Every cardboard Toy-Con gaming gadget comes with interactive, often funny, step by step instructions. With building your own gaming accessory approach, Nintendo offered both fun gaming add-ons and DIY STEM assembly.
How do Nintendo Labo gadgets work?
Nintendo Switch comes with two Joy-Con controllers, and the right one has an infrared sensor. On the other side, each of the Toy-Cons cardboard accessories has white stickers that communicate together. Switch controllers, along with HD Rumble, the IR sensor, and then stickers interact and create your very own gaming magic.
Before playing, there is playing. Toy-Con gaming add-ons look like flat cardboard shapes when they arrive, and depending on the Kit you will need anywhere from 10 minutes to assemble smaller and easier gadgets to a couple of hours to put more complex items together. The interactive instructions are very detailed, and if you are into making stuff, this can add to the overall appeal.
It’s fun to assemble any of the kits – for example, the Robot Kit is supposed to take three to four hours to put together. The company mentions ideas for customizing your kits with coloring, stickers, googly eyes, and other decorative changes that can honestly transform Toy-Con into something special.
There are three sections in the Switch software: Make, Play, and Discover. The Make part we touched on already. Every Kit has at least one game included, and these are adapted for use with the Toy-Con you’re working on. This makes gaming more engaging and fun. The games are relatively simple, but addictive, and they complement the experience of making your custom big gaming controllers like Robot, Fishing Rod or Piano.
In the Discover section, you can find out how Labo works or you can reprogram Toy-Cons to work with another game. There is an option to create your own Toy-Cons and make them work with other existing gadgets.
Toy-Con Garage is a hidden gem in the Discover section. This is a visual representation of a simple programming experience. You can mix and match inputs and actions and add a totally different experience to your Toy-Con kit. There are possible new ways to use Toy-Con creations or even create new ones. You can program your controller to make an explosive sound when you shake it, or vibrate when your gaming Toy-Con spot IR Marker. If you have imagination, possibilities are almost countless. If you’re not into it, go back to Play section.
Nintendo Labo accessories
The whole story around Nintendo Labo revolves around accessories. In a way, we can look at any of the Toy-Con kits as an accessory to the Nintendo Switch console. We’ll give you an overview of all currently available kits, as well as some other accessories for Nintendo DIY gaming package.
Nintendo Labo Toy-Con VR Kit
There are two Nintendo Labo Toy-Con VR Kits, the Starter Set+Blaster and a full VR Kit that has six Toy-Con gadgets for folding. Each Kit includes Nintendo Labo VR Kit software. VR Kit has a lot of assembly material for its six gaming accessories. There are 32 cardboard sheets, VR lenses, a reflective sticker sheet, a sponge sticker sheet, a red sticker sheet, a gray grommet washer set, a yellow grommet washer set, and rubber bands.
The VR resolution is not in the class of other VR headsets. The Switch screen has a 720p resolution which is then divided into two. For casual games with cartoonish graphics, it could be tolerable. There will most certainly be some screen door effect, but the motion tracking is reliable.
Toy-Con VR Googles is one of the Toy-Con creations or projects you can make. It’s very similar to Google Cardboard, with a cardboard case and VR lenses with a place for the console in front. With the recent addition of VR support for Nintendo top games such as Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Toy-Con VbioR Googles became increasingly appealing. The downside as with all Labo VR Accessories is the lack of a head strap/headband. Nintendo is keen on taking time off VR experience as often as possible. Therefore the customer has to hold all VR add-ons in front of them with their hands. In case this doesn’t appeal to you, there are third party VR googles for Switch and Labo that offer a headstrap.
The second project you can create is Toy-Con Blaster, which is part of the Starter Set along with the VR Goggles. You will need more than two hours to make the Blaster. This cardboard gaming accessory has some cool features like a cocking mechanism that adds realism. The main game revolves around invading aliens with a variety of enemies including bosses.
Toy-Con Camera puts you in the role of an underwater photographer. You will get a fun VR experience and the game. Although this is pretty basic, it gives you satisfying challenges.
The most creative part of the FullVR Kit is probably Toy-Con Elephant. This creation includes an elephant face mask, complet with trunk. You will need to hold the mask with one hand and the trunk and the Joy-Con controller inside with the other. This translates to a creative VR experience of puzzle games such as placing floating tracks in 3D space to help the falling ball reach its destination. The other tool is 3D painting where you can create drawings in three-dimensional space.
Toy-Con Bird is self-explanatory. You will get a game in the software package where you will fly your bird completing tasks in the VR world. It has classic Nintendo graphics and an outstanding VR experience.
The last creation in the full VR Kit is the Toy-Con Wind Pedal. You could use it with VR Googles or with Bird creation. In the VR Plaza, there are over 60 games and experiences created by Nintendo Labo developers. You can go to the Toy-Con Garage VR and take a look behind the scenes of the VR experience, and also create new ones with the platforms programming tools.
Nintendo Labo Toy-Con Vehicle Kit
There are three vehicles you can create in this Kit, the car, the submarine, and the plane. Besides those three gadgets, there are two others that are used in combination with the vehicles: the key and the pedal. Let’s start with them.
The key is fairly simple to assemble, it contains one of the Joy-Cons, and when you want to drive any of the vehicles available in the Kit, you’ll need to insert this critical creation into your car/plane/submarine.
The pedal is also used with all three vehicles. This cardboard accessory has a subtle feel to it, and you can apply gradual acceleration.
Toy-Con car is a steering wheel, and the accompanying game lets you race or explore the open-ended world. There is a co-op option, but for a full collaboration experience, you will need more than one kit. The plane creation is a cardboard joystick with a cool old-school design, and it is very intuitive and a lot of fun to fly over the island in the game.
The most complex learning curve is with the submarine, but once you get the hang of it, it’s also entertaining.
The Nintendo Labo Vehicle kit gives you incredible immersion and gaming experience that can match much more expensive or more high-end games and consoles. Nintendo added the support for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe game for the Toy-Con car.
This Kit includes a physical version of the Vehicle Kit Software as well as 25 cardboard sheets, reflective sticker and sponge sticker sheet, string, a grommet set and rubber bands.
Nintendo Labo Robot Kit
The Nintendo Labo Robot Kit consists of the Robot backpack and a visor, and it takes roughly three hours to put everything together. The Labo Robot Kit comes in the form of a 19 cardboard sheets, four cardstock sheet, reflective sticker sheet, orange and blue string, some gray canvas straps and grommet set. Kit includes Robot Kit software.
Four cords come out of the backpack. Twi have handles for controlling the robot’s hands and two have nylon foot straps to manage the robot’s feet. When you move your hands or feet a camera inside of the backpack Joy-Con infrared camera catches the movement of the stickers on the connected pistons that go up and down, and it is translated into movement in the game. The visor also plays a role. The other Joy-Con controller is connected to it, and it tracks your head movement, which also translates to the game.
The software includes modes for customization of your robot’s avatar and the sounds that he creates. There is a VS mode, but you will need another set for that one. The main game lets you destroy, stomp, and even fly over the town. The last mode of play is Challenge with five sets of three stages.
Toy-Con Variety Kit
One of the first two Labo kits, the Nintendo Labo Toy-Con Variety Kit, comes with five different projects. In the package, you will get Variety Kit software, 28 cardboard sheets, three reflective sticker and sponge sheets, orange and blue string, grommet set and rubber bands.
The two Toy-Con RC Cars have the most straightforward design and can be assembled in ten minutes. The cars are powered by vibrations of the Joy-Con controllers, which interact with sensors inside the cars. The car can follow the path of a magnetic tape by using the IR motion camera or see in the dark with that same camera. You can steer the car with the controls on the Switch touchscreen. This project doesn’t have a traditional game, but it’s still lots of fun.
The Toy-Con Fishing Rod takes more time to make, and it comes with its own mini-game. In the fishing game, you lower the hook into the ocean, and when the fish bites the bait, there will be vibration, after which you’ll need to pull the fish out. The deeper you go, the more exotic and rare fish you can catch. There is also an aquarium mode with its own DIY component. You can cut new fish from cardboard and use the Toy- Con Piano to add fish to your aquarium.
That brings us to the Piano. You can play simple songs, change the octave with the lever on the side, insert one of four knobs to adjust your sound or insert Waveform Cards to create the sound you want. You can create, record, and listen to your music, add even the drums or assign different sounds to the keys in the Garage.
The Toy-Con Motorbike is most like a traditional gaming controller. With the steering motorbike wheel, you can control the bike in the game. The game has AI opponents and many tracks. There are two add-ons. With the Toy-Con Mini-Bike you can draw a path in the air which will create an original track to drive your mini bike on. With the Toy-Con Scanner you can scan objects and add that shape to the terrain. The Toy-Con Motorbike supports Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
The Toy-Con House has a mysterious pet in his custom home. You can play mini-games, touch the screen and feed the pet, or you can use one of the three blocks that activate some action inside the house. With the combination of the blocks (there are three holes for them in the cardboard house) you can activate combos and unlock new activities.
Nintendo Labo Customization set
The idea of DIY Labo kits is to create the projects and then play. The process of making Toy-Cons is an important part of the experience, and Nintendo wants you to customize the creations. You can get a fun Customization set for $10. In the package, you will get two stencil sheets and two sticker sheets as well as two tape rolls. We leave the potential application and ideas to you since anything goes!
AMVR VR Face PU leather Cover Mask
The AMVR VR Face PU leather cover mask is designed for Nintendo Switch VR Labo. You’ll need to use Velcro sticks to connect the replaceable cover mask to the headset. The leather mask can be cleaned easily, it is comfortable, and it can add to the VR experience.
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Organizer for Nintendo Labo Variety Kit
Organizer for Nintendo Labo Variety Kit is a 24″ original protective and heavy-duty organizer for Labo Variety Kit. One of the main knocks on Nintendo Labo is the size and storage of the Toy-Cons when they are not in use. This heavy-duty protective organizer can help you with your Variety Kit. The organizer has four handle straps so you can move or hang it. The price of these items might seem a bit steep, but it does address the storage issue with large cardboard Nintendo accessories.
MENEEA Cardboard Guitar
The MENEEA Cardboard Guitar is not included in any of the present Nintendo Labo kits, but the Labo Garage offers a way of programming the guitar so MENEEA jumped on the bandwagon and created this officially supported gaming gadget. You can actually play the guitar on the six strings and change chords via a Joy-Con controller located in the neck of the guitar.
Nintendo Labo is a series of gaming accessories that combine the joy of creating a DIY project with an innovative approach to gaming. You can spend hours making the Toy-Con projects, enjoy the specific game for each accessory and go behind the scenes, reprogram or even create something entirely new in the Discover part of the software.
Nintendo Labo and its gaming Kits is another clever and immersive use of the Switch console that can’t match PlayStation or Xbox performance and specification. What Nintendo lacks in raw power area, it delivers in playable fun.