Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit review: Labo’s difficult second album is a success
The Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit is, unquestionably, the most fantastic and ambitious Nintendo Labo release yet. The Vehicle Kit expands Labo beyond what’s come before, creating yet another fitting set of Toy-Cons to add to Nintendo’s growing cardboard library.
When Labo was first announced earlier this year it took everyone by surprise. Nobody expected Nintendo to be experimenting with toys made from cardboard, let alone ones you can build, customise and even create yourself. Its announcement both confused and delighted in equal measure and, bar a few naysayers, Labo was received with open arms, commended for just how brilliantly accessible it was for families and adults who just love to create and play.
The big difference here, however, is how the Labo Vehicle Kit is no walk in the park. While the Variety Kit offered up a range of creations to tackle, with each one increasing in difficulty and complexity, the Labo Vehicle kit is tricky right from the word go. It makes sense though, as with the Vehicle Kit Nintendo has seriously stepped up Labo’s capabilities.
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Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit review: Cardboard creativity
The Vehicle Kit, then, is aimed at an older audience. Its Toy-Cons are the perfect evolution in design and complexity to please kids who found the complex structure of the Toy-Con House or Toy-Con Piano too straightforward. If the Toy-Con Robot was seen as complex but bulky, the creations found within the Vehicle Kit are both compact and complex.
Each build clocks in well over the hour mark, and the amount of focus needed to create these intricate cardboard machines is enough to tax even the fittest of minds. What’s even more mind-blowing is how all of this then fits into Labo’s established Labo Garage toolkit, meaning everything you build here can then be infinitely tweaked and twiddled with to your heart’s content. You can even create your own Toy-Cons and use them to pilot the various craft found within the Vehicle Kit.
As part of the Vehicle Kit you’ll get to build the Toy-Con Car, Submarine and Plane as well as the Toy-Con Pedal to drive them and the Toy-Con Key to activate each cardboard creation. Switching between them during Vehicle Kit’s Adventure Mode is as simple as pulling the Toy-Con Key out of one and slotting it into another, with your on-screen vehicle magically transforming when you slide your key from one Toy-Con to the next.
Because of this interchangeability, Vehicle Kit’s Toy-Cons really do feel like machines. The complexity of their design means there’s rudimentary switches, toggles and almost gear-like parts to build. Putting together the Toy-Con Car’s wheel together really does feels like your creating a functional device. It’s akin to the Toy-Con Piano in terms of complexity, but this time it’s more tightly packed and draws upon elements of the Toy-Con Motorbike and Toy-Con Robot Kit at the same time.
Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit review: Island explorers
Like with the Nintendo Labo Variety Kit, the Vehicle Kit contains more than one Toy-Con to build and play with. Unlike the Variety Kit, these Toy-Cons interact with each other in a far more direct way.
It’s absolutely fantastic being able to change between Toy-Cons by just sliding the Key between builds and, because each Toy-Con creation is so tightly integrated, the Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit’s on-screen experience outshines both the Robot Kit and the Variety Kit’s individual experiences. While they felt like little more than games to play to make you curious about how Labo works, Vehicle Kit’s Adventure Mode is an enjoyable game in its own right, just controlled via tactile creations you’ve built yourself.
For context, Adventure Mode places you on a sizeable open-world to explore from your vehicle. As you drive around you’ll uncover new terrains to traverse along with quests to complete and tasks to undertake. It’s a playground, one that encourages you to explore and play, switching between vehicles to really make the most of the colourful space Nintendo has created.
There are also actual games included with the Vehicle Kit too, allowing you race rally cars, recreate Scalectrix-like races with just the Toy-Con Pedal or engage in battles and Mario Kart-like races. And, just like with the Toy-Con Motorbike from the Variety Kit, the Toy-Con Car can be used to steer karts in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – making it the racing wheel you’ve always wanted for the Nintendo Switch.
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Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit review: Verdict
It’s clear that the Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit is a step above what’s come before from Nintendo. It’s also a sign that, moving forward, future Labo kits are likely to increase in complexity.
However, because it’s so much more advanced than both the Variety Kit and the Robot Kit, it’s not the best place to start your Labo adventure. If you’ve never delved into the world of Labo before, you’re definitely still better off exploring the options presented by the Variety Kit. By using it’s wide range of Labo toys, and familiarising yourself with the Toy-Con Garage, moving to the Vehicle Kit next won’t seem quite as intimidating.
If you’re already well-versed in the world of Labo and want a new challenge, then the Vehicle Kit is the perfect solution to apply to that itch. Just be warned, these cardboard creations take up more space than you might expect.