When Virtual Reality gaming godfather Palmer Luckey was sat for hours a day in his garage relentlessly working on what would become the Occulus Rift, his vision for 2019 was probably not the Nintendo Labo VR on the Switch.
But I bet he loves it, just like my family and I do.
Because what Nintendo have managed to do with their latest Labo kit release is strip gaming down to more than just plug and play and easy thrills.
And at the risk of sounding cheesy it is also a superb educational tool too. My wife will tell you I know everything. But hell I think I learned a lot of new things putting it all together with my 11-year-old daughter.
The VR Kit is built around cardboard goggles that allow players to view stereoscopic 3D images using the Switch console.
There are five items in this bumper pack which attach to the goggles including a blaster, a camera, a bird, my personal favourite the elephant, and a space viewer.
This may sound a bit complicated if you’re not a particularly crafty person. But there are detailed, easy-to-follow instructions for building each device so you needn’t worry. And in many ways the building element is just as much fun as actually using the new toy cons.
Listen this is not designed to in any way complete with the (for want of a better word) ‘proper’ high end VR kits out there. But Nintendo isn’t selling it in such a way. What they have done is make ingenius use of their existing - albeit limited - hardware to take you on a VR joyride. Think of it as VR lite, or a soft introduction to VR and you’ll be along the right lines.
As I touched on the Discovery Mode acts as a wonderful educational tool - which would work great in schools - as it teaches you not only how the tech works by basics in engineering and programming.
And creating your own VR experiences in the Toy-Con Garage is the crowning achievement of this charming package.
I was a touch disappointed with the minigame roster as it felt lacking in terms of actually getting a good use of the tech and Toy-Cons you create.
This is undoubtedly the most involved, enjoyable, biggest and best Labo kit to date. There are some obvious drawbacks but it is about managing expectations and enjoying it for what it is, a family friendly bit of fun to be played in short bursts.
The satisfaction my daughter and I got from watching as our pieces of cardboard eventually morph into these intricate and awesome-looking devices was priceless.
They look super cool and that is exactly how I would describe the Switch’s Labo VR kit: a super cool package that is fun, educational and inventive without posing any real threat to the VR gaming establishment.