Every year, I publish a silly April Fools article and last year, I wrote one about Labo VR. Well, it's now a thing and it's actually pretty cool.
Believe it or not, this is my first hands-on experience with any Labo product. Upon unboxing the Toy-Con 04 VR Kit Starter Set + Blaster, my first thought was, "Some assembly required." About 4 hours of following tedious instructions later (couldn't they have implemented optional streamlined instructions for impatient adults like me?), I had a pretty cool gun, simplistic VR goggles, and a goofy pinwheel thingy. I'll discuss the VR component in a bit but for now, allow me to describe the toys. If you purchase the full-priced pack, you also get a camera, elephant, bird, and wind pedal (whatever that is). However, I only have the Starter Set.
Firstly, the VR goggles are very simple as all you do is slide the Switch into a slot then hold it up to your eyes. Next, the blaster is impressively cool. The intricate design allows you to cock the gun then push a trigger on the back to shoot. To use it, you place the goggles within a compartment as well as a Joy-Con in the barrel and another on the left side of the goggles. Using it is intuitive although some of it came apart after a while because frantically reloading and shooting will eventually make certain parts come loose but you can easily snap them back into place. Finally, the pinwheel is a silly toy that basically dangles a windmill in front of your snout and you activate it by blowing. It's a fun little toy that will make you and your friends look goofy but that's about all there is to it.
As someone who's been enjoying the incredible PlayStation VR for a couple of years, I didn't expect much from Labo VR but after finally playing around with it, I'm rather impressed. Obviously, the resolution isn't as high so the visuals are more grainy and blurry but it still works surprisingly well. I especially appreciated the responsive head tracking which makes the games much more immersive.
The games that come packed with Toy-Con 04 are incredibly basic. The 2 blaster games consist of a simplistic stage-based rail shooter that's fairly enjoyable and a multiplayer curling-style game where you feed hippos in order to lure them to your goal. The former was quite fun for about half an hour or so and penguin and I got bored with the latter halfway through a match. Aside from those, there are interactive experiences that don't really have any goals as you merely just watch things happen with limited interactivity. These reminded me of the toys in WarioWare games where you tinker around for 30 seconds then move on to something more fruitful. Overall, the software acts more like a collection of tech demos as opposed to full games which is rather disappointing.
First of all, both Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild have upcoming VR support which I'm looking forward to checking out. That being said, I'm much more curious about what indie developers will release for Labo VR as this technology offers them plenty of opportunities to create and port games on a whole new platform. However, there's one glaring flaw that will limit game development which is Labo VR's complete lack of a head strap. Imagine playing a game with a controller while you're holding VR goggles up to your face. Even if a game just uses 1 Joy-Con, your other arm will surely get tired after a few minutes.
In the end, Labo VR is a promising new concept for Switch gamers. It could definitely use more and higher quality games at this point in time but there's no denying that it works well and opens the doors to more unique experiences on the Switch.
- + Very cool and intricate toy designs
- + Creates opportunities for indie developers
- + Aside from its resolution, the VR is well implemented with solid head tracking
- - Build instructions could be more streamlined
- - An optional head strap would be nice
- - Comes with a subpar game collection