Nintendo is bringing VR to Switch in the form of its latest ‘Labo’ kit which aims to “combine the innovative physical and digital gameplay of Nintendo Labo with basic VR technology to create a simple and shareable virtual reality experience for kids and families.”

Nintendo today announced the Nintendo Labo: VR Kit, the fourth kit in their ‘Labo’ product line—primarily targeted toward younger gamers and families—which offers build-it-yourself accessories which work in conjunction with specially made games and experiences.

Image courtesy Nintendo

The Labo VR Kit for Switch will launch on April 12th priced at $40 for the ‘Starter Set’ which will include two ‘Toy-Con’ creations: ‘VR Goggles’ and ‘Blaster’. Two expansion sets will be available for $20 which offer two more VR Toy-Cons: the ‘Elephant’ & ‘Camera’, and ‘Wind Pedal’ & ‘Bird’. Each will offer unique experiences tailored to the Toy-Con.

A full Nintendo Labo: VR Kit will be priced at $70 and include all of the Starter Set VR Toy-Cons as well as those in the expansion packs.

Nintendo has only offered a hint of what the Switch VR content will look like: “Fend off an alien invasion with the Toy-Con Blaster, visit a colorful in-game ocean and snap photos of the sea life with the Toy-Con Camera and so much more.” We expect to learn more closer to launch, but the design of each of the VR Toy-Cons gives some hint at what the interactions will look like: with the Blaster, the user aims and pumps the slide under the gun; with the Camera the player uses the trigger to snap photos while rotating the lens to zoom or focus; the Elephant will have an articulating trunk tracked with both controllers; and the Bird will have a movable neck and wings.

Image courtesy Nintendo

The Labo VR Kit will also work with the Toy-Con Garage feature that offers “basic programming tools for players to experiment with,” which suggests the Switch VR content will be customizable to some extent.

“This new kit builds on the core tenets of Nintendo Labo—Make, Play and Discover—to introduce virtual reality in a way that’s fun and approachable for both kids and kids at heart,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “We wanted to design an experience that encourages both virtual and real-world interactions among players through passing around Toy-Con creations.”

Nintendo says that the Switch VR Labo kit offers a “unique first VR experience,” [our emphasis], which we take to mean it will be relatively basic. Like Google Cardboard before it, the Labo VR Kit for Switch is effectively a drop-in holder for the console, with lenses which each see one half of the screen for a stereoscopic view. The kit will likely offer rotational (3DOF) tracking only, without the positional (6DOF) tracking that is rapidly becoming the standard for VR headsets. The low resolution of the Switch’s display (1,280 × 720) means that the effective resolution could only be up to 640 × 720, which would be roughly equivalent to 2013’s Rift DK1 development kit, depending upon the field of view (which is currently unconfirmed).

Still, Nintendo has shown time and again that raw processing power and high fidelity graphics aren’t prerequisites for great gaming experiences. Switch, despite being substantially underpowered compared to the latest consoles from Microsoft and Sony, has sold tremendously well since its March 2017 launch, reaching 32 million unit sales by the end of 2018. Nintendo’s lauded first-party content is a major driver of Switch sales, even if the console can’t push the same number of pixels as competitors.

Nintendo of course has yet to live down the famously failed Virtual Boy console-HMD which launched back in 1995 and offered rudimentary graphics, a stereoscopic view, and no form of headtracking. The system was cancelled less than a year later launch. Though Virtual Boy hardly resembles anything that would be considered a contemporary VR headset, the Labo VR kit won’t possibly come to market without comparisons bandied about. The stakes are high to show that the Labo VR kit isn’t history repeating itself.

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Nintendo’s leap into VR with a Labo VR Kit for Switch is very likely a strategic toe-in-the-water, giving the company room to experiment while considering a broader play, likely for a future console. Even giving Nintendo the benefit of the doubt when it comes to quality of experience over sheer graphical horsepower, a Switch VR headset designed for the larger Switch demographic (rather than the younger Labo demographic) would be too far behind in hardware to compete with contemporary high-end PC or mobile VR headsets. For that reason, it seems likely that Nintendo will use the Labo VR Kit for market testing and experimentation, while considering a broader Switch VR headset for a future console.

Image courtesy Nintendo

In the meantime, Nintendo has the opportunity to flex its rich game design experience in the still quite young medium of VR. The Labo VR Kit experiences are likely to be 3DOF only, but will also use the motion-tracked Joy Con controllers for input while combined with the Toy-Con accessories for unique experiences. Like Google Cardboard—which doesn’t include a strap—the strap-less and bulky nature of the Labo VR Toy-Cons will naturally reduce head rotation speed and help hide any latency that may be present in the system.

Nintendo also says that the strap-less design is meant to encourage sharing by making it easy to pass the VR Toy-Cons from one person to the next. This suggests that the experiences will be designed with simple pass-and-play gameplay in mind, though with that Camera Toy-Con, it’s hard not to think about the potential for something like Pokemon Snap VR. Interestingly, the company notes that all of the Labo VR games can be played in a non-VR mode using an included ‘Screen Holder’, which may be included to accommodate anyone prone to motion sickness, or children younger than the recommended age for the product (which the company has set at six years old).

The April launch timing for the Switch Labo VR Kit is quite interesting considering Oculus’ upcoming Quest headset is also set to launch this Spring. While Oculus is targeting a broader ‘gamer’ market with Quest, there is sure to be some overlap with Switch owners (or potential owners) who might be interested in getting a taste of VR, and could be swayed toward the lower cost Switch option via the Labo VR Kit. Even without the Labo VR Kit, Switch’s $300 price point and position as a ‘secondary’ gaming device will put it in fairly close competition with the $400 Quest.

Because of its low cost and the large existing install base of Switch consoles, the Labo VR Kit will probably sell quite well compared to many contemporary VR headsets. Its reception (good or bad) could therefore majorly influence the perception of consumer VR, showing it off as something to be excited about, or a technology which just isn’t ready. For that reason, the whole VR market should be hoping that Nintendo manages to deliver a compelling experience with the Labo VR Kit that contributes to the overall interest in VR.

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  • jameshvr

    Awesome! Finally Nintendo steps in, and with Labo i think its just the right move :) All the Labo experiences i’ve tried so far have been extremely well done and creative. If it reaches the same level like the other kits (wich im sure it will) it will be just great!

    • JesuSaveSouls

      Yes I also agree with you sir.

  • Nicholas

    Seriously? What the hell is this? A low res screen with a strapless cardboard “hedaset”. What a joke.

    • for sure relax..you know HORI or NYKO gonna release a full headset attachment

    • TJ Studio

      Are you saying you don’t want Nintendo to do a VR system at all? Cus it sounds like you are!

      • Nicholas

        Just because I might not write back to “600 lb heavy Barbara” on a dating site, it does not necessarily mean that I am not interested in women in general.

        • Jerald Doerr

          Uhhh but what if you “write back” and you end up taking her for a spin and she is more fun than your wildest dreams?

          Lol, look I’m not saying you gotta write back but I’ll bet you $100 that if you tried this stuff (Labo) out you might just say Damn… Ok… They are onto something here.

          • Nicholas

            Haha, yep it could end up being the ride of my life!
            I’ll be keeping my eyes on this (hoping a new VR switch edition is released with better screeens)…

          • Muzufuzo

            they could at least provide Full HD, it’s not that costly anymore

          • Walter Silvy

            The switch not powerful.enough for that. We are talking Xbox 360 ish.level console. It’s pretty much a just slightly underpowered versions of f the wiiu but in.portable form.

          • Muzufuzo

            But there could be a new version of Switch with Tegra X2 instead of X1 and 1080p instead of 720p.

    • kazira

      Yeah u dudes are missing the point… only people I seen playing a switch is kids so I think this is good for kids to learn about Vr and I’m sure KIDS will enjoy it.

  • mirak

    This is ridiculous

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  • gothicvillas

    Well, VR/AR is the future of gaming undoubtedly.. but not sure if Switch is good platform to introduce it. Psvr is already struggling and just about make it possible. For new VR users, Nintendo vr may end up a puke fest. We’ll see.

  • y_m_o

    As someone who owns a pretty good rig (i7 8700k/gtx1080), I sold my Switch last year. Used the funds to buy the vive wireless adaptor. Got so sick of the poor games and ever increasing indie rubbish (most were ports from Steam). The Switch doesnt have the muscle for proper vr. Missed opportunity. They werent interested in vr before lol. Joke!

    • themobiledivide

      Its funny to me that you would sell one of the best gaming platforms of this generation in order to fund one of the worst. Switch first party games are pretty incredible and a lot of the “indie rubbish” you state are all cool quirky games. I’m going to bet that these Switch demo games are going to introduce some fun experiences with innovative mechanics because Nintendo have definitely cracked that code over the years. Labo is a purely a kids toy but even my 9 year old Fortnite playing nephew loved it to bits. The ingenuity in the design of some of them is amazing and I’m sure the VR pack will be no different.

  • JesuSaveSouls

    Good move for nintendo to test the fields and avenues of vr on their domain and console.It will prove to be a good move and breakthrough.Jesus God’s Son also died for you and He is alive!

  • 3872Orcs

    Does it have IPD adjustment?

    • You can tell by looking at the article’s banner image that the optics are housed in one solid piece of plastic. It’s possible there could be software based IPD adjustment, but the simplistic nature of Labo products probably will rule such a thing out.

      • 3872Orcs

        Hah! You’re right! I’m blind :p

  • Konchu

    This make sense to make a cardboard VR headset for this franchise. I know it wont be as good as PC VR but seeing some Nintendo made experience for VR even as a google cardboard clone has my interest peaked. I had no desire to get the other Labo entries but this might temp me just to see some official Nintendo VR entries. Its good not to underestimate Nintendo’s ability to make something magical out of inferior tech. (of course they have failed with garbage like Wii Music so wait for a review before dropping too much money here)

  • paul mason

    Screw Nintendo. Giving kids an awful VR experience so they will hate VR. Are they trying to kill VR.

    • brandon9271

      If Google Cardboard didn’t kill it neither will this.

  • MosBen

    This is fine. I’m not interested in it, and I won’t buy it, but Labo is about experimenting with play and using the Switch in some unexpected or novel ways, and this fits into that well. It’s not going to provide an amazing VR experience, but it doesn’t need to. It’s made of cardboard, you guys. It’s not supposed to be a hardcore piece of tech kit.

  • impurekind

    I hope Nintendo’s experience is at least decent and fun. It would be so ironic if Nintendo were the company that ended up poisoning the VR well–especially after some of its recent comments about it not really wanting to get into VR until it found a way to make it comfortable and fun and so on.

  • brandon9271

    I bet even this has better lenses than Rift CV1…

  • brandon9271

    This is light years ahead of the Commodore Amiga powered Virtuality.. and that blew my mind in 1995.. :-D lol

  • Lucidfeuer

    This has “nothing” to do with VR. But this is a nice collector.

    • dsadas

      yeah… it’s like those people that say vr started back in 95′. In reality, by no way, shape or form can you call VFX1 with 30 FOV with HORRFING lenses, resolution of like 250×240 , 2.5D pixelated graphics and with that very limited that was even a true 3dof and 256 colors panels. That’s just not VR.

      • Muzufuzo

        VR is only just starting NOW, certainly not in the 90s, that was utter crap hardware, unworthy of attention to anyone but the most hardcore VR enthusiasts

  • This might be the first time I’ve had a reason to dust off my Switch since Breath of the Wild. I think it still works…

  • Alan Harrington

    Nintendo poisoning the VR well yet again. Yes this is exactly what VR needs right now :-(

  • Sven Viking

    Ah, finally a sequel to Dumpy: Going Elephants.

  • Fourfoldroot

    Please don’t poison the well ninty. Best case this gets lots of new people interested in VR, worst case it makes the entire thing a laughing stock X X love you X x

  • oompah

    cardboard again
    who likes it?

  • Alextended

    It’s just a self contained toy like previous Labo kits, it’s not a new VR platform for people to spew so much hate for its deficiencies compared to PCVR/PSVR/Whatever. Just like the last Labo kit was pretty cool for children to make their DYI wheel and flight stick out of cardboard and then also get to understand how it actually works and how the joycon infrared camera detecting different moving parts in the cardboard thanks to the reflective tape bits translates into complicated and analog gameplay input that the joycon by itself can’t do and what kind of games can then utilize that for entertainment.

    It’ll sell maybe 100-200k units, kids who like the crafting stuff around the world will enjoy it, and it will then be forgotten just like the previous kits, it won’t amount to anything as far as VR as a platform is concerned, nor does it try to, nor will it set back VR or advance it further just like the last kid didn’t set back racing and flight simulators or whatever just because it had a wheel and flight stick to make and use, lol.

    • Alextended

      The last kit* not the last kid, haha. Labo is cool and a very specific niche, it won’t sell the multimillions of google cardboard and similar did to worry about (or alternatively hope) it affecting VR as a whole. Most Switch users are adults and this isn’t even for all children like Pokemon is, it’s for a specific subset and that’s why none of the other sets sold all that much but it’s cool to see them continue the line in a creative manner. This won’t sell all that much either but whoever gets it for his kids is sure to see them entertained and educated.

  • I think that it will introduce more children to VR and that’s great. The fear is that their parents may think that VR is the one of a poor cardboard and not the great technology of Vive and Rift.

    Regarding the timing, I think that since Oculus says that the Quest is the Switch of VR, Nitendo is answering launching the Switch VR close to the quest…

  • superdonkey

    It’s just asking to called Nintendo labotomy

  • Schadows

    I’m obviously very skeptical, mostly because of the Switch computation power (struggling to make games running at 60 fps in split screen) and its screen (does someone now what kind of matrix is used on the console screen ? RGB ? pentile ? etc.).

    But well, as long as its for Nintendo Labo, which targets the youngs, they can at least justify the status of “VR experience”.

  • Zobeid

    quote, “Though Virtual Boy hardly resembles anything that would be considered a contemporary VR headset…”
    It didn’t resemble anything that would be considered a VR headset in its own time either. It was not a VR product.