Nintendo Labo has been out for a while now. We've been charmed by the company's inventive designs and the way they fuse cardboard with the Switch's powerful Joy-Con controllers. The product line hasn't been a runaway success, though. In its last quarterly earnings, Nintendo revealed that 1.39 million Labo sets were sold between their debut in April and the end of June 2018. That's by no means a disaster, and not a huge surprise given Labo is more education focused than Nintendo's usual wares. The kits are also a tad more expensive than a typical Switch game like ARMS.
Tomorrow, Nintendo is releasing a third Labo set called the Vehicle Kit. I doubt it will sell 10 million copies, or rival the popularity of PlayStation 4 exclusives like Spider-Man and God of War. I do believe, though, that it's the best Labo kit yet, with satisfying builds and a robust suite of gameplay modes. Together, they stand a decent chance of tempting skeptical parents who worry their little ones will grow tired of the concept after a few days.
Before you can pilot a virtual monster truck, you have to build some physical props. As with previous Labo kits, these are constructed from large, rectangular sheets with clearly defined pop-out pieces. The new set comes with a Switch game card that contains detailed instructions for each one. Individual steps are conveyed with short videos that you can rewind and rotate at any time. The solution is a huge improvement over the paper pamphlets that ship with LEGO sets and Ikea flat-pack furniture. I also appreciated the child-friendly jokes that Nintendo peppered into each step.
Everything slots and folds together in an elegant way. Even now, five months after Labo's debut, I'm impressed that none of the kits require a pair of scissors or pot of glue. It keeps your Nintendo Switch safe and ensures that your little one can open the box and get stuck in right away. Occasionally, you'll have to dig into an included bag that contains an assortment of string, plastic washers and elastic bands. These parts are a fraction of the final kit though, and rarely feel like a design cop-out.
The Vehicle Kit offers five major Toy-Cons: a wheel, an acceleration pedal, a flight joystick and a spray can. There's also enough cardboard to build a Joy-Con holder, a wheel-mounted Switch stand, and two small Joy-Con "keys" that are required to operate all of the Toy-Cons except for the pedal. They all take a long time to complete. Like, seriously long. Nintendo estimates that the wheel alone will take you three hours to finish. Thankfully, each build is broken down into stages, with helpful reminders to take a breather after each one. I constructed everything over a weekend and was mentally drained at the end. If you're making the kits with children, I highly recommend spreading them out over a fortnight or two.