The Nintendo Labo Robot Kit or Toy-Con 02, 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. You can find my individual posts on the variety kit, here, here, here, here and here.
As with the Variety Kit the instructions are essentially a 3D video that pauses where you can rotate and pinch in to view how to do it. Since it is a video it is very easy to go back some steps or forward if you already got the gist of it.
I bought this as a birthday present for my little sister. I spent most of the day assembling it and she helped out here and there. As with the Variety Kit it will first get you to make a joy-con holder for practice. The Robot has an estimated build time of 180-240 minutes but I’m quite sure it took me a lot longer than that. Which tends to happen when you get “help”. It is an eight-step process.
The first piece you make is the visor, both side pieces use the eyelets. The left side is more complicated because it has the joy-con holder on it. After that we had to thread the strap through and adjust it until it fit her.
The next step is the four power boxes with thick marker stickers on the back. The power sheets are perforated strips that you fold forward and back over each other to flatten them. This was my favourite part of the build. These folded strips go into each power box to add weight to them. The two inner boxes are tied with the short orange string, and the outer ones with the long teal strings.
The third step is the start of the backpack, adding a hook to the biggest cardboard piece there is, with the eyelets. Both sides are attached and holes for the strings are slid through to poke out. Straps are threaded through a separate piece before going backwards into the backpack. The top of the backpack straps are made with cardboard, and have to be curved a bit.
A Long Process
Fourth is the slider box which is where the power boxes will be held. This has a piece marking which one is for what foot and hand. After it is attached to the backpack, the power boxes will be put in their correct place with the marker stickers facing out. The orange strings are threaded through into the backpack straps, whereas the teal ones go into the holes we added sticking out of the sides.
Then the Robot’s arms are made, both made of folding the cardboard over itself. Then they are tied with the orange string to their corresponding box with the holes inside. After wrapping the string around for a bit, some string needs to be pushed in the slot at the top. This can be quite tricky to do, and will definitely need adult help if there wasn’t any before.
Next are the Robot’s shoes, which are made with two pieces of cardboard and a strap with a pre-sewn loop. Then you adjust it to fit the users foot and attach it to the correct teal string. The cover is put on last, so that you can check the arms and feet are put on the right spots. A joy-con holder is put into the cover to poke out before connecting it to the backpack. Finally all that’s left to do is put the left joy-con in the visor and the right one in the backpack!
After that you can make the screws which are used in the Hangar mode. They are quite simple, the only tricky bit is the marker stickers. Which are the same for both screws.
Before heading out to play the first time it will put you through the wearing process. I think that the foot part is the hardest to get right as you might have to adjust it, once you’ve started playing it.
The first mode is Robot, which unless you exit it, is what you’ll start with. It’s set in a small city and you have five minutes to cause as much destruction as possible. There are buildings, cars, signs and ufos to demolish. The only thing I couldn’t destroy was an exclamation point hedge.
This is the main mode of the game where the only real purpose is to collect a higher and higher score. You walk by lifting your feet up and down on the spot, the way I could get it to work I had to raise my knees up to get it. Punches are by punching or just pulling the arms forward. Giant mode can be activated by lifting up the opposing arm and leg and it makes you giant for a little bit at a time.
Crouching down will turn you into a car, and punching while doing so will shoot lasers. Standing with arms out to the side will allow for a little flight, to help get on top of buildings or ufos. You can also bring the visor down to get a first person mode but I didn’t bother to use that until I unlocked the Special Beam power. Once you’ve played enough of Robot you’ll unlock Free Play mode, this won’t keep track of your score but it allows you to play in thirty minute slots.
After a round of that you can go into any of the other game modes. One of which is Challenge mode, this is how you unlock new powers to use in Robot mode. It kind of reminds me of the challenge stages in Star Fox Zero. These powers are Charge Punch, Corkscrew Kick, Plane Mode, Quick Jump and Special Beam. Each of these has three stages of four parts each, the first to unlock the power and the other two to strengthen it.
I never quite got the hang of corkscrew kick but managed to beat the later stages anyway. Plane mode is actually being able to fly in the car mode but you can’t shoot, it is more accurate than the robot flight but I prefer the latter. The problem is, if you’re good at controlling it the mode only lasts slightly longer than an hour to clear all stages.
The Robo-Studio is where you can attribute a selection of different sounds for the two hands, visor lifting and feet. Such as a drumset, a monster, or beatboxing. My sister liked using the drum part for a fair while.
The Hangar requires you to have made the two screws as these are used to control it. Opening the top lid of the backpack and putting a screw in allows you to change which body part you’re selecting. The three holes at the side for the second screw let you change various aspects of its colour. This way you can customise the robot you play as in game, just a little bit.
VS mode requires two Robot kits. You can bash about a non-responsive robot but that’s not terribly fun. But if you press in the stick on the left joy-con the second robot will be in autopilot mode and you can fight it. According to the discover section attacks from the back do triple damage, and you can’t use the giant power. All other powers you have unlocked in challenge mode work, and the goal is to knock the opponent out of the ring. You can also damage them until they explode. Pulling the visor down will lock you to your opponent. The colour of the second robot can also be changed in the Hangar by using the left stick.
There is a calories option in the Play section. This is just the option to show how many calories you have burned playing the game. It will show in Robot, Robo-Studio and Challenge mode, and you can turn it off at anytime. I feel that something like Just Dance is a bit better of a workout but it’s still a nice feature to have.
After playing with a toy-con, the discover section for it opens up. In here you learn more about each toy-con, before taking a quiz on everything you’ve learnt. With the Robot Kit it teaches you how it works, the rules of versus mode and even how to pack up the whole thing into itself.
There are also an arts and crafts and joy-con sections. The arts and crafts section not only shows decoration techniques but also repair options. When you’ve played enough Discover you can check out the Secret Lab. This the the Labo Garage feature. Which allows you to come up with your own games, or uses for your toy-con.
I was in the final level of stage 3 trying to beat the one hundred robots in the ten minutes I had left when I suddenly couldn’t do certain moves. I paused and found that the power box for the left arm had opened and let the weight out. So after fixing that I tried again, and it still didn’t work. That was because the string had pushed into the power box and thus wasn’t sliding in the right place. I used some more tape to close the box and keep the string out of it’s new spot. Thankfully it is working but it put me out of the mood to finish the last stage just yet.
I think that the Robot Kit is the best Labo kit to buy for a child. At least until I get my hands on the vehicle kit. As it has a game with a fair amount to it and has a few different play modes. It also comes with a hook and can be tidied up in itself. Whereas the variety kit takes up way too much space. My only problem asides from the malfunction is that the cardboard backpack straps are uncomfortable. So I might have to make an alternative. You will also have to help the kid put it on, but if it’s just for the one person you won’t have to keep readjusting it.
My little sister likes it and plays it from time to time still, though she hasn’t gotten the hang of turning by leaning and not actually turning. All Labo kits also have the Labo Garage function which I haven’t even touched on, which is a great feature for older children. As an adult the part I actually enjoyed most was the building process rather than the game. Who knows? Maybe they’ll add Labo compatibility for upcoming DaemonxMachina and I’ll have to grab my own.
I like it.