Friday, April 26, 2019

First Impressions: Nintendo Labo: VR Kit - Part 2

This is Part 2 of a currently two part series about the Nintendo Labo: VR Kit.  Part 1, where I go into my history with virtual reality and preconceived notions about VR on the Nintendo Switch can be found here.

So Sunday afternoon is when the VR Kit arrived and that was when I started in on the box.

My first thought, not having any experience with any of the previous Labo kits, was that the cardboard sheets that made up the break-away pieces was a lot thinner than I was expecting.  The cardboard did not seem flimsy, but something about its thickness just seemed. . .thin?  However, once I started putting the cardboard together to create the VR Goggles, I discovered that there were a number of pieces that ended up with three individual layers of the cardboard and once constructed, were quite sturdy.  I mean I could still bend all three pieces with my feet if I really wanted to, but why?
One thing that did kind of surprise me, but really should not have, was that the VR Goggles took over 30 minutes to assemble, creating four separate pieces that ended up fitting together to make the one unit.  I knew from reading about the first set of Labo kits that each construction took anywhere from 30 minutes to up to 3 hours for some, even when adults put them together, but my hubris towards construction Ikea furniture got the better of me.  I will not underestimate the complexity that will be the facegun, or whatever it is called.  Blaster?

Once I did have everything together, I dove into the handful of mini-games that were playable with just the VR Goggles and what surprised me the most was the gyroscope.  Not the gyroscope in the Joy-Cons, but inside the body of the unit itself.  I had no idea that there was a gyroscope in the body of the Switch.  This allowed for movement of the goggles to look around inside the VR world along with separate moving of the Joy-Con as a cursor/hand.  One hand holding the goggles to my face while my right hand holding the Joy-Con, picking up objects and throwing them into a brightly lit blue sky, or playing a six stage platformer that seemed to be inspired by Wipe-Out!

Something else I was not anticipating, were the informational bits told to the player(?) about how virtual reality works, how the VR Goggles work, how the brain interprets different visual inputs, and a number of other behind-the-scenes aspects contained in the play/game portion of the cartridge.  I found myself going through these tutorials, partly because I am genuinely interested in what they entail, how the information is presented to their targeted younger audience, how that information is interpreted by someone 33 years older than the boxed age suggestion, and because I feel like after engaging with all of the tutorials that it might unlock something else.  Granted an impatient players of any age could just as well click through them as quickly as possible, spending maybe 10% of the time I have spent in order to unlock anything that may or may not be hidden.  Plus, seeing as how Nintendo took the time to put together information about the product I just bought, I might as well interact with it to at least make the money I gave Amazon and Nintendo feel like it was worth it all.

Going back to some of the concerns I had prior to purchasing/playing was the resolution and frame rate.  After an hour or two playing various games, watching some specifically designed videos, and a couple of the tutorials, it is very easy to see nearly individual pixels from the screen.  And while it is noticeable, for me at least, it was far from distracting.  The resolution, primarily on the videos was also somewhat fuzzy, but far from unplayable.  Also, I apologize to anyone else using our Switch for VR as our screen is not the cleanest and I probably could have done a better job applying the screen protector.  But again, it is pretty easy to look past the "blemishes" and just enjoy what is actually happening on the screen.

And I think ultimately that is what not only the Labo VR kit, but the entire Nintendo Labo series is about.  Having fun.  I recognize that I am not the target audience by about 30 years, but I do love constructing things and I am pretty excited to see what the Labo Garage has to offer in terms of VR and what assets from the included games section.  And maybe with exception of the flying game, I think Conklederp will also like a lot of what Labe VR has to offer.

Long As She's Been Doin' It Right

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