Nintendo Labo is still for kids and still something that excites you with cleverly designed cardboard devices. However, the new vehicle kit, coming out in mid-September, is more of a full-fledged video game.
The original Labo releases last spring were as neat as they were light. They called the Variety Kit and the Robot Kit, and allowed players to turn their Nintendo switches into fishing rods, robotic suits, and pianos, but then let them try out a small number of mini-games.
The Vehicle Kit, which I tried this morning at a hotel meeting in New York City, is different. His main offer is a relatively sprawling thing called Adventure Mode. In this mode, players can explore a large land mass of themed areas while switching off the control of a car, an airplane, or where there is water, a submarine.
Each vehicle is controlled by a combination of cardboard Labo creations. All use a foot pedal that consists of folded cardboard and the left-hand Nintendo Joy-Con controller. Everyone uses the right Joy-Con with a cardboard wheel, joystick or two-wheeled submarine controls. This right-hand Joy-Con is wrapped in its own cardboard sleeve and treated like a key that can be removed from any controller and quickly plugged into another so that a player can switch from driving a car to the steering wheel to fly an airplane. Just remove the key from one, insert it into another and the character of the player changes from driving a car on the ground to flying in the sky. (A similar idea, minus the cardboard and much more advanced graphics, is the core concept of Ubisoft's new PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC version The Crew 2) .
The scale of the world is great, but not huge, more Wii Sports Resort as breath of the wilds . The playing card shows 10 hexagonal zones, each grayed out from the beginning, until the player drives to a gas station, refilling the tank, exposing the card and making them aware of eight or so targets. The goals I met were fundamental: things like sailing my submarine into an underwater flag or finding and carrying lost cows to a pen. A more challenging point I noticed flying over the city area was that I had to fly over the top of a skyscraper, get in the car, and drop my car onto the skyscraper's roof.
The zones are all themed. I flew over a city zone and unlocked a meadow. I drove past a desert of pyramids and had short flashbacks to Banjo-Kazooie and Mario 64 .
Every vehicle has additional capabilities. The submarine can fire torpedoes. The plan can shoot missiles. The car can …. throw bombs? Wait, that's pretty violent, right? The car can also use windshield wipers, a radio or large horizontal circular saws that can cut down trees. All of these gadgets are triggered by buttons, levers, and buttons that are part of the complicated cardboard controls that players must first build. To simplify all these options, these builds are not easy. Nintendo estimates that the most complex steering wheel takes between an hour and two to build.
As with the other Labo kits, I have not seen any reference to other Nintendo characters or teachings. Your player character is an androgynous, flattened crash test dummy. Their vehicles are cartoon-like, but are not nearly similar to Arwings or F-Zero racing cars. You can paint your character and your vehicles with spray paint and – what else – a cardboard spray paint that rattles when shaken. The can uses Joy-Con's right-hand infrared sensor to detect a cut-out shape held in front of it, and then sprays virtual paint through it for a stencil effect.
The vehicle kit, which will be sold for $ 70 when it goes on sale on September 14th, will also offer some mini-games. There is a simple multiplayer slot car racing mode and a car battle mode that works best when a second player has his own cardboard wheel. Nintendo staff say that the Vehicle Kit allows players to build custom controllers that use the same inputs as the Labo board, but it's hard to imagine players being able to put together a homebrew steering wheel with all the necessary control inputs] As I experimented with Nintendo's previous Labo kits at New York press events, I left the sessions, thrilled with the ingenuity of the cardboard superstructures, but skeptical that there were many more to these games I could immerse myself in. Vehicle Kit lets me explore with a larger virtual playground. I do not expect the greatest Nintendo releases, but I can see that there is a game of some weight here that I need a lot more time to explore. In light of what I expect and many Kotaku readers of Labo, this is a welcome development.