Nintendo Labo VR Kit: Release Date, Price, Features for the Switch's VR Kit
Nintendo's take on VR is unlike any other.
Nintendo’s deceptively simple plan to turn the Switch into a virtual reality powerhouse involves a few sheets of cardboard and a little bit of elbow grease. The Japanese gaming company’s Labo VR kits allow users to fold cardboard pieces into an array of different accessories that transform the console into anything from a headset to a fishing rod. The DIY bundles turn a year old this month, and have recently received a suite of notable updates.
Nintendo announced its fourth Labo Kit in March which includes six new “Toy-Con” designs. These include a blaster, a bird, a camera, an elephant, a foot pedal, as well as a complementary pair of VR googles that work with the all of the new accessories (with the exception of the pedal). The origami-like attachments come with a new batch of “simple and shareable” mini-games geared toward a younger audience, but some of Nintendo’s recent hit titles are beginning to gain VR support as well.
Labo products take a decisively different approach to VR gaming than other companies in the field. Instead of offering a standalone headset, like the Oculus Quest, Nintendo lets its users affordably augment their consoles to support VR however they want. The goal of the strategy is to give Nintendo a jump start in the multi-billion dollar industry that’s currently crowded with expensive hardware.
The global virtual reality market is predicted to be valued at almost $27 billion by 2022, according to a forecast by Zion Market Research. Nintendo Labo could be the gaming giant’s way to capitalize on the ascendent gaming technology with younger demographics who will probably come of age right as VR does.
Nintendo Labo VR: Price
Nintendo will begin offering its two new bundles, known as the “Toy-Con 04 VR Kit,” starting on April 12.
The first bundle will include all six aforementioned Toy-Con designs, a screen holder, a safety cap, and all of their accompanying games for $79.99. A smaller version of this kit that only includes the blaster Toy-Con will be available for $39.99 for users that want to test the waters before buying the entire new bundle.
Additionally, the company will offer two expansion sets for $19.99 each. One expansion pack includes the elephant and camera Toy-Cons, while the other will come with the pedal and bird Toy-Cons. These bundles are geared toward users that initially pick up the $39.99 starter kit and enjoy it enough to shell out for the rest of the designs.
The bundle will still cost $80 whether you buy it all at once or spaced out over three separate purchases, though springing for the largest bundle could still save you a little bit of cash when you account for the sales tax.
Nintendo Labo VR: Release Date
Labo’s fourth kit will be available online and in stores beginning April 12. Both the full bundle and starter set are currently available for pre-order in the Nintendo online store.
Nintendo Labo VR: New Games and Support Updates
Five new games will be added to the Labo roster to support the new Toy-Con designs.
- The Toy-Con Blaster will come with a shoot-em-up style game where players test their accuracy in a virtual shooting range chock full of different mini-games.
- The Toy-Con Wind Pedal will be used for precision and timed games where players need to step down on the pedal at just the right moment to get a jump high score.
- The Toy-Con Bird will be compatible with the Wind Pedal, and come with its own game where users explores an open world — that looks a lot like Mario’s Mushroom Kingdom — as part of a flock of birds.
- The Toy-Con Elephant is the most peculiar of the bunch, but will allow for infinite creativity. It comes with a sandbox-style game that lets players draw in a 3D space or invent and design their own Rube Goldberg machines.
- The Toy-Con Camera will let players wander through the depths of the ocean taking snapshots of the creatures they encounter along the way.
The new Labo will also come with “VR Plaza,” which features 64 other games that users can play using the standard goggle Toy-Con design. In particular, this upgrade will appeal to users hoping to experience Nintendo’s most iconic titles in VR.
Both Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will receive a free update on April 26 that make them compatible with the Toy-Con VR Goggles. While the former will only get a handful of new missions, the updated Zelda game will be fully playable in VR. This option will definitely excite certain Nintendo fans, but it’s also worth noting that a VR experience might not be the best fit for these two games
Both titles are open world adventure games that require days of playing to explore and complete missions. The Labo Goggles are completely handheld and do not come with anything to attach to users’ faces or heads. This means playing the games through will require holding the Switch to your face for multiple hours on end, which seems like it could get pretty tiring.
Nintendo Labo VR: The Rest of the Roster
Nintendo sells three other Toy-Con Kits each with their own distinct games and cardboard designs.
- The Toy-Con Variety Kit can transform users’ switch into a pair of RC cars, a fishing rod, a house, a motorbike, and a piano.
- The Toy-Con Robot Kit is perfect for Transformers or Gundam fans: Users can build a backpack and visor to control a virtual robot that can morph into a plane, tank, and other vehicles.
- The Toy-Con Vehicle Kit is for all the racing game diehards. The cardboard cut-out can be shaped into a steering wheel, a joystick to control a virtual plane, a submarine wheel, and a pedal to power them all.
Nintendo Labo VR: How This All Works
All of these designs make use of the Switch’s Joy-Cons, which come equipped with gyro motion-sensors, infrared motion cameras, and a haptic feedback engine. This sensor trio allows Nintendo engineers to transform cardboard constructions into an interactive VR system, explained Labo developer Hironobu Sakaguchi in an interview.
“As we got deeper into all our experiments we started to think of the Joy-Con as bundles of sensors,” he said. “That really freed us to consider all kinds of possibilities.”
Labo’s creative designs were all conceptualized in meetings Nintendo calls “prototype parties.” The team took inspiration from paper toys, like paper airplays and origami, that children around the world already play with as a pass time. The resulting hardware may be geared toward children, but thanks to its imaginativeness, it still has the potential to tap into the inner kid of Nintendo fans of every age.