When Nintendo Labo first came out, I saw a lot of people talking about games getting “Labo support”. This really confused me, since it really didn’t seem like that was the direction Nintendo was going in. They had put out two different sets, the Labo Variety Kit and the Labo Robot Kit, and both were very self-contained experiences. Nintendo even went as far as to announce Labo in its own separate video, with no connection to any other game and without even using the Nintendo Direct banner. So, what is this Labo support everyone is talking about? Clearly, everyone had gone insane. But then, Nintendo patched Labo support into Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
I honestly hadn’t used any of my Labo stuff in a long time, but this announcement did get me to dig out the Toy-Con Motorcycle. In my review of the Variety Kit, I mentioned that the motorcycle game was the one that felt the most like a real video game, but that being said, it still wasn’t something that held my interest for too long. But being able to use that same Toy-Con in a full-fledged Mario Kart? That sounded pretty cool.
I still went in pretty skeptical though. It would be another motion control scheme for a game that already has that, and the old version wasn’t very good. But I’m happy to report that for the most part, this works really well. I played using a bike, because I figured that would feel more natural than a kart, and sure enough, steering like a bike was very responsive. The only real issues that pop up are from everything else besides stearing, which is not where I was expecting to have problems.
To accelerate, you have to twist the right handlebar, which is totally fine. Jumping and drifting is handled with that long thingy sticking out the top of the right handlebar (I don’t know anything about motorcycles, so I don’t know what it’s really called), which also, works pretty well. But the two other buttons, found on the bottom of the two handlebars aren’t the most responsive. They barely move when you push on them, and when one of the functions is using items, that’s rough. I found it really hard to hold a turtle shell behind you, a pretty vital strategy in the game, as after a few seconds I’d end up throwing the shell anyway. So, that’s unfortunate.
All in all, this is a cool way to play Mario Kart 8. It’s not going to be anyone’s preferred way to play in a competitive environment, but if you happen to have bought the Variety Kit and own a copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, this is a pretty cool extra feature that you’ll have fun messing around with.
This post wasn’t intended to be a review of the new controls however. With my entire perception of what Nintendo had planned for the Labo brand shattered, I started to think about what else Nintendo could be planning. So here’s some thoughts that I had.
Somehow, a Switch Animal Crossing game still hasn’t been announced, but I think everyone is convinced that it’s a thing that’s going to happen. You know what Animal Crossing has? Town songs that you make yourself. Well, what if you could compose them with the Toy-Con Piano? This could give you the ability to make much more complex songs while also being a more natural tool for playing them. I’m no musician, so I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to do anything much with it, but I think it would be a really cool addition for more talented people.
I also considered the use of the Toy-Con Fishing Rod, but decided that probably would be a bad idea. Sure, Animal Crossing has fishing, but it’s also very simple. Do you really want to pull out your big hunk of cardboard every time you want to catch some fish? That also hurts the portability of the game. Where as the town tune is a neat extra that you would want to spend some time with and could really take advantage of some Labo, fishing is such a vital part of the Animal Crossing experience and it would only serve to slow things down and make them more complicated.
There has to be something you could do with that Fishing Rod though, right? What if Sega put out a new Sega Bass Fishing? The Dreamcast game could be played perfectly fine with a controller, but also was compatible with a fishing controller. Put a new one on the Switch, include normal controls with the option of using the Toy-Con. Bam. You can have that one for free, Sega.
I think it’s very possible that Nintendo will release small Labo accessories for specific games instead of just supporting the ones that come with the Variety Kit. My first thought was a sword that could be used for an HD remaster of Skyward Sword. At the end of the day, that’s just a cardboard sleeve for the Joy-Con and doesn’t actually add anything. So, yeah, maybe don’t do that one.
But what about a gun? It could use the gyroscope for aiming, which works fairly well. Then, have different ammo boxes with reflective stickers on them that you could load into it. The IR camera would detect the pattern on the sticker and change the ammo accordingly, functioning the same way as the Toy-Con House. Put this out with a new Duck Hunt game. I don’t know about you, but I’d play that.
I really like Nintendo Labo and hope to see it continue to get expanded upon. What do you guys think? Is there anything you’d like to see get the cardboard treatment?