Review: Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 03: Vehicle Kit (Nintendo Switch)

By Jorge Ba-oh 13.09.2018

It's time to explore a vibrant island on Nintendo Switch. Pilot a car that can easily morph into a plane or submarine, and the world's, literally, your cardboard oyster. The latest Toy-Con concoction brews up a trio of interesting cardboard controllers to put players directly into the driver's seat. Fancy driving gloves and pilot's garb, not included! With a lot of emphasis on getting driving controls spot on, and the potential limitations of card as a material, does Nintendo's latest experiment hold up? Here's a look at Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 03: Vehicle Kit!

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Nintendo is arguably the master of peripherals. From innovating with control sticks and shoulder buttons, the Japanese game maker has dabbled in a lot of gadgets over the years. As the Nintendo Switch has detachable controllers, the Joy-Con, it's paved the way for even more interesting ways to play. Not content with serving up yet more plastic shells, Nintendo has been tinkering with cardboard! As well as being that bit more environmentally friendly, cardboard has the potential to be just that bit more satisfying. Players build their experiences with Nintendo Labo kits - sheets of cardboard shapes that meld together to become interactive toys, called Toy-Con.
 
The difference with Nintendo Labo is that the building of these toy shells are a big part of the experience, slotting together to be used in a handful of mini-games and interactive set-pieces. The first set, Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 01: Variety Kit is the core introduction to just what makes the Labo concept tick - five different toys to brew up; an adorable robot RC car that vibrates along a table, a workable piano and even a charming pet house that uses the Nintendo Switch screen. The newest set, Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 03: Vehicle Kit, takes things even further: soar above the clouds in a plane, dive deep underwater in a submarine, and zip about in a car. Unlike the Nintendo Wii plastic shells of old, the Toy-Con offer more mechanical elements. It's more grounded and feels closer to driving than a circular piece of plastic ever could.
 

Image for Review: Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 03: Vehicle Kit (Nintendo Switch)

Each sheet has pre-cut shapes to fold, slot, crease, and slide into one another. Surprisingly, aside from reflective stickers, there's no glue involved to hold it all together. It all just comes to life rather nicely. Cardboard may not sound like the ideal material for creating table-top pianos or steering wheels, but these pieces offer up a fair bit of durability. The hardest part is perhaps building each of the individual Toy-Con, with each spanning a good three to five hours to craft. Luckily, it's not a case of shuffling through sheets of paper with plenty of head-scratching.
 
Nintendo has created interactive guides included in the game that showcase each and every step through animated 3D models. Need to know where that small tab slides into? Simply stop and rotate the 3D model to see how it all works. It might sound like quite a small part of the software, but the build guides are a great way of encouraging players to discover how everything works. There's a feeling of discovery, creation, and learning - potentially a far more rewarding way to spend an afternoon than plonking together a wonky wardrobe from a Swedish furniture store. How does the pedal work with the steering wheel? Simply work through the video and discover that a small wedge of folded card is the magic gear.
 

Image for Review: Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 03: Vehicle Kit (Nintendo Switch)

Slide together that last piece and it's ready to roll. Pop on the Joy-Con and enter an interactive world with cardboard as the key. It's a hugely satisfying pay-off that leaves players with three fresh controllers to use in a series of mini-games included on the game card. Compared to the standard Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 01: Variety Kit, the new Vehicle Kit is certainly a bigger challenge this time round - the steering wheel, in particular. It is quite the technical marvel - from the reflectors and IR mechanics that make the thing work effortlessly, to a foot pedal coupled with it, it's time to hop into the driver's seat and explore a vibrant tropical island. It does take a fair bit of time to get used to, and may not exactly be the triple-figure arcade wheel, but offers a compelling way of using the Joy-Con to drive.
 
The other two Toy-Con serve up a plane and crawl beneath land in a submarine. The former uses a shell that's akin to the flight simulator sticks of old. Coupled with simple, yet colourful and vibrant graphics, flying feels intuitive and compelling. Getting the flight experience right in videogames is always a tricky thing, given the whole gravity angle, but Nintendo puts experience with the likes of Pilotwings and Star Fox to good use. When it comes to diving with the Toy-Con Submarine, it's perhaps the least compelling of the three, left to rotating dials, but does serve up a more relaxed island tour.
 

Image for Review: Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 03: Vehicle Kit (Nintendo Switch)

The mini-games certainly are more fleshed out this time round - with the adventure and multiplayer modes offering far more replay value than the other kits. The longevity could expand to other applications in the future - perhaps expanded driving simulators or a fresh way to take on a new Pilotwings. Using the included Toy-Con garage, players are also able to create their own experiments using Toy-Con. Want to somehow open a garage door using the Toy-Con wheel? It's probably possible, somehow!
 

Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 03: Vehicle Kit is the most challenging and intriguing to piece together so far, and the set that has the most longevity - their software/adventure pieces may not be the most in-depth RPG/open-world fest, but it's fun and puts the kit to good use. The wheel and joystick, in particular, are what's likely to carry momentum going forward - the Toy-Con that could easily be applied to future games and concepts.
Box art for Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 03: Vehicle Kit
Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Driving

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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