Game/accessory: Nintendo Labo Variety Kit
By: Nintendo Switch
Price: € 69.99 (Eu) , £59.99 (UK), $69.99 (USA)
The Nintendo Labo Variety Kit or Toy-Con 01, released on April 20th in most places and later in Europe. Toy-Cons are creations made from modular cardboard made to use with the unique functions of the Joy-Con technologies.
The Variety Kit comes with five different constructions: 2x RC Cars, 1x Fishing Rod, 1x House, 1x Motorbike and 1x Piano.
In this post I will be talking about the House. Please check out my first post where I gave an overview of the Labo software and process while talking about the RC Cars. My previous post about the Fishing Rod is also available.
I made the house after all the others. After the RC Cars it is probably the easiest. I’m not sure how long it took, but it was less than the prescribed 120-180 minutes. First you make the chimney to hold the joy-con. Then with a few pieces you build the house. After that, you make three different “blocks” to fit into the three holes in the house. A button block, a crank block and a key block. The button block uses folded cardboard to make a spring. While the key block has a rubber band in it, to snap it back to place. All of the blocks use the marking stickers.
After making the house, you can make another set of blocks. I had forgotten to do this until I came to bring it to my sister to play with. The cable blocks use the other piece of string that came with the kit. I gave my sister one half to make at the same time as me. With some help, the house is a project that lower primary school children could do. It would also be a fun one to decorate.
The house only uses the right joy-con. The switch screen fits in the front of the house, without joy-con attached. The screen displays the inside of a house with a small creature in it. This game is a type of virtual pet game. However unlike a Tamagotchi there is no threat of death, or any cleaning up to do. As it doesn’t have a time on it, there isn’t any sense of progression. However using the different blocks, you can change the house in many ways.
The crank button makes a mobile (baby cradle toy) when on the side, and a fan when on the bottom. With the button block you can turn the lights on and off, or pop out jelly beans for it to eat. The key block fill the house with water, or changes the wallpaper. When both are pushed in, the cable blocks create a portal between each other. By placing two different blocks (not the cable ones) different minigames can be played. Such as bowling, a hamster wheel and jump rope. The minigames reward you with various food, depending on how well you did.
The creature eats many things such as jellybeans, broccoli, snails and cake. Eating different foods changes his colour and patterns. My sister found an area where you can store his different colours and patterns as candies. Make sure to recreate the candy so you don’t lose it. This room saves, so when you play another time the candies will still be there. When putting in all three blocks different galleries will show up.
The discover section teaches how the house works and little else. Each of the blocks have different marker sticker patterns. So with the IR camera of the right joy-con, it can detect where and what patterns are showing. In this section the character Plaise shows off making your own versions of the blocks by using the same marker sticker patterns. This is also where you can double check that your marker sticker placements are right, if they aren’t working. The joy-con also detects motion, so you can shake and move around the house to effect the game.
The house is also featured in the Arts and Crafts discover section. A lot of cool roof designs are shown, and a second roof is available on the lightbulb sheet to try them. In ‘Decorating: Don’t Cut Here’, one had made a window in the house. This made the game unplayable as it brought to much light in and the IR camera couldn’t detect the stickers. However, they solved it by putting curtains on the inside of the window.
Finally, affordable housing!
The house would be a good project to let a child make most of it. Certainly, it will be one of the favourites to decorate. With extra parts it could even become a castle, or a mobile home. The house is played held up, I felt uncomfortable doing that with the switch inside. Which is why I had my sister play with it on the floor or on her lap. Compared to other virtual pets, this is definitely lacking in the care aspect. That said, when it comes to minigames there is a bit more than in a Tamagotchi.
My sister seemed to particularly like collecting as much food as possible and making cakes for it to eat all at once. After an initial play it might not be as entertaining as other pieces but that can depend on the age and personality of the child.