The Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit or Toy-Con 03, released on September 14th. 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 well as my review of the Robot Kit here. The Vehicle Kit comes with the four main constructions: Car, Pedal, Submarine and Plane. As well as the two keys, a screen holder, a spray can and some optional attachments.
As with the other Labo kits it starts you off with making a joy-con holder. I’ve said before that the instructions are a 3D video that pauses where you can rotate and pinch in to view how to do it. This makes it very easy to go back some steps or forward if you already got the gist of it.
I’ve explained in heavy detail the process of individual toy-cons in previous posts. This time I’ll keep it a little simpler. The main differences in these pieces are that a lot more rubber bands are used. Both the car and submarine have wheels which are basically made the same way. Having made both the previous kits the estimated completion times were mostly inaccurate. It took me about half the time to make the pedal, keys, submarine and plane than it said. While the car did take almost a couple of hours to complete. Making the submarine was interesting because it has two gears in it, that you can see from the outside on the completed product. While the Discover section and making the toy-cons give kids a good idea of how they work, being able to see it while using it, is neat.
Pedal to the Cardboard
I will go over the controls just a little bit. The pedal uses the left joy-con to tell what angle it’s being pushed at. Whereas the keys use the right joy-con. They are joy-con holders that allow you to move it between the toy-cons without removing the controller. So you can take the key from the car to the submarine to the plane. The keys also have a button at the top that pushes the R button. All the vehicles need the pedal to accelerate. The car has the wheel to turn, a lever to brake or go backwards, a pull string to go fast and jump, and two other levers. These levers have knobs at the top that change what pulling them does such as changing to a fuel nozzle, a saw or a bomb. These are only used in Adventure mode.
The Submarine has a button that is used as an anchor, also only used in Adventure mode. It is controlled by two wheels which turn the direction of the propellers. This was difficult for my sister to wrap her head around so she turned it around. Which is actually recommended for some people in the Discover section. The plane is a joy-stick and pretty simple to control, it has a trigger to shoot missiles.
If you make the toy-cons in order the first game you will unlock is Slot Cars. This is controlled just by the pedal. Slot Cars has the option for multiplayer for up to four players, which you can do either by controlling a joy-con with your hand or improvising your own pedal. Currently the option to buy spare parts for the Vehicle Kit isn’t yet on the Nintendo Australian eBay Store. The discover section does show a few ways you can make your own pedal but there is another way I will mention later. You can change the direction the camera is facing using the control sticks. Which my little sister did frequently to confuse me when I played against her.
Both Slot Cars and Circuit use the same seven tracks, but instead of a top-down view, circuit is either first or third person. Circuit and Slot Cars look the same as the motorbike game in the Variety Kit albeit with cars instead of bikes. They both also use your three custom tracks, which you can make with the Variety Kit’s little motorbike. I went to check this and it does share the data between the two games, which is very cool. Unfortunately it does not save water or sunlight and fog levels. This mode has three speeds, the option to turn CPUs on and off and smart steering. It doesn’t have much to it but there are three other play modes.
Paint The Toy-Con Red!
The Paint Studio allows you to customise all but the interior of the vehicle. Once you’ve made the Spray Can you can open this mode. The right joy-con goes horizontally into a holder, while you keep the left joy-con out to use as the camera. The body, each tyre, propeller, wings, parachute and driver can be painted. Making a polka dot pattern was very easy and cute. Pushing in the left stick will allow you to switch between two different cars. It’s similar to the customisation in the Robot Kit but a bit better, though it doesn’t have the same colour options.
The main mode, and probably the first one you’ll enter after making the car is Adventure mode. This is the biggest part of the game. It’s a fairly good sized world split into ten different areas. Each area has eight missions, two of which are always fuel up at the station and find the flag. They have a variety of tasks some of which are just to drive others to certain locations and others are a bit trickier. Not all of these can be accomplished with just the car, and you will have to make the submarine and plane as well. At least one mission requires more than one vehicle to be used.
The aesthetic is that the world itself looks game like, however all people and creatures are plastic toys. This makes it look nice while giving Labo it’s own identity. After you complete all the missions you will be given an item that adds different effects to your car while carrying it, such as allowing it to drive through water faster. You also will then have to find five star pieces, some of which are a bit tricky. So not only is it fun for kids to just explore in but they can also try to do all the missions, and probably will ask for help when they get stuck.
Co-Op or Not
Adventure mode also has two player co-op though it’s not exactly fun. It’s like a lot of two player co-op modes that Nintendo has been making lately that I’m not a fan of. It puts the second player in the back and with any of the other vehicles they can fire a bazooka. However this bazooka uses a tonne of fuel and is only effective on a few objects. If you both push your key buttons in at the same time the drivers will swap over. This includes the other vehicle, so if the other player is using the plane toy-con then it will be a plane. It has to be pressed right at the same time or the map will just come up instead. It’s not very helpful, or fun for the literal backseat player. Honestly it would have been better without it.
Having A Rally Good Time
Rally mode uses the adventure mode maps you have unlocked to place a time race. Starting with only twenty or so seconds, going through each gate adds fifteen. In between gates there are arrows pointing at their general direction and you go through all of them before the final gate. Most of the eleven rallies are only for one specific vehicle but a couple allow for two or more. It’s best to try these out after decently exploring the areas to be more familiar with them. There is also a hard mode option after you have cleared ten normal courses. This adds just a little more game play and can be good for older kids.
Battle mode is a similar concept to that of the Robot Kit. Little kids might have even more trouble with this than than the Robot one. As you’re turning from a top down perspective, and the punches are curved. Pulling the left and right levers allow for different punches. Holding a punch allows for it to get bigger and deal more damage. There are a few options and you can set the time limit all the way to ninety nine minutes and the same for points to win.
There are a few different stages including one you can make by scanning something with the IR Camera. The “My Level” can be destroyed in a match with the punches. There are six different power ups that drop onto the stage, you can select and remove certain ones and change frequency of power ups from Normal to Loads to Insane. Unlike the Robot Kit this time single player and versus are separated. Again I don’t know where you are going to find someone else with another toy-con car but if you do it’s an option. As you can only use the car vehicle in battle mode.
Discover + Custom Controls
As I’ve said before 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. This time I could get Gerry to add another layer to the conversation if I said I was interested in what he was starting to drone on about. It’s nice to see that even in the discover section they’re starting to make improvements.
It’s always important to read all of the discover entries for your toy-con as you can learn new ways to play with them. Plus the dialogue options make it a bit funny. This time you’ll notice that there’s a taped down lid next to the Labo Garage one. After entering Labo Garage you can tap on this one. Here you’ll learn you can customise the controls for your game. Meaning you can make modes entirely playable with just buttons. This makes multiplayer possible without another kit, and also allows for more comfortable controls. You do have to do it yourself but it gives you a start and lets you try it out in test areas.
Although it lets you play custom controls in the play modes it seems to run on a different save. As I went in Adventure mode with my button controls and had no progress in it. I’m not sure why that’s the case but while Adventure mode is a decent amount of content it’s no thirty hour game, unless you want it to be.
It’s a Cardboard Life
The pedal is pretty big which might make it a bit hard for smaller feet. It is also apparently susceptible to my sister’s foot sweat so make sure to wipe your feet if that’s a problem for you. The car’s levers are a bit prone to issues but the game has smoke coming out of your car when something’s not right.
The wheel actually feels pretty good to control, I found it much easier than the motorbike. Unfortunately it’s implementation in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe isn’t any good. Being able to customise the controls to buttons makes multiplayer possible without makeshift Labo contraptions. It also means the game isn’t unplayable if the pieces break and can be played out and about.
While it doesn’t have the Robot Kit’s ability to tidy up in itself, I think this is the best of the three kits so far. The main game mode is the longest of any of them, plus it has a circuit, rally and slot car mode. Even the discover mode seems to have more as you can prompt Gerry into tangents. While a lot of the modes take from the other kits these are merely good additions to add more to the game. The Adventure mode is a much better game than that of any other toy-cons, and has it’s own cute little toy world.
I suppose I could complain that only the car makes use of the circuit mode, the only submarine or plane specific races being in Rally mode. It would have been a way to add more play ability. Other than that my only problem is that instead of having a backseat driver they should have made a split screen option instead. While kids have their own preferences, this is definitely the one to get. It’s good to see that they’re continuing to make little improvements to Labo like the custom controls.
I like it a lot!