Buy Nintendo Labo VR

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This is awesome. I’ve stayed away from buying any of the Nintendo Labo kits because, after all, they are only cardboard. However I couldn’t resist the purchase of the Labo VR kit above. And I allow myself one silly purchase after giving a course (thanks GSK). And I get to play Zelda in VR.

So today we tracked down a copy of the game and starting folding things together. The game comes in a box around the size of a large pizza and is made of similar cardboard (to the pizza box, not the pizza). The instructions are an object lesson in how to tell you how to assemble something. They even have funny names for the cut-out parts. One was referred to as “two pandas holding hands”. If you follow the directions you’ll have no problems, and great fun putting the things together.

We started with the 3D visor. This is very reminiscent of Google cardboard. The lenses are supplied pre-mounted and are of good quality. The Nintendo Switch is not really a 3D device, but it works really well in the role. Just remember to clean the screen before you put it into the goggles. The biggest problem is that you have to hold the goggles up to your face while operating the controls, so you’d probably not want to spend too much time using them. But you do get a convincing 3D experience.

Then we moved on to the rocket launcher. There is only one word for this. Fantastic. The construction is properly long, with lots of different elements to be fitted together. When it’s complete you really feel that you’ve built something. And it works. The Switch “goggles” fit into the end of the launcher and you have a positive slide reload action that you can see in the game. Then a press of the trigger launches a rocket with a solid “thwack”. I was a bit worried about the strength and durability of the cardboard construction but it seems pretty solid and works really well.

I reckon if you have a Switch you should get this. The whole thing is such fun.

Apollo 11 VR Experience is Awesome

One of the great things about virtual reality is that it can take you places there's no way you'd ever be able to go in real life. For example, the moon.

Apollo 11 VR is an application about the first moon landing. You start off watching President Kennedy's famous speech about choosing to do things like space travel "because they are hard". You're in a very sixties themed briefing room with a flickering projector, a stylish TV and even a lava lamp (you had to be there).

Then, after a tour around your rocket, you're in the command module and blasting off into orbit where you have to dock with the lunar module before heading out into space. Apparently actually landing on the surface of the moon is a bit tricky, but we haven't got that far yet.

Everything is rendered extremely well, your fellow astronauts do look a tiny bit "uncanny valley" but the space scenes are lovely. And there are interactive elements which require more than a little thought and coordination.

It's being sold as a "documentary" and I think that's very fair. It's probably not a thing that you'd go back to time and again (although I think I probably will). The price of seven pounds fifty pence seems reasonable for something like this, I reckon you get an awful lot for your money. And it's a great way to show off the platform.

In fact I think that if you have a VR system, you should get this.

VISR Virtual Reality from Hull

Visr is a Hull based product development aiming to bring a bit of "other worldliness" into your life. It takes the idea popularised by Google's "cardboard" project and moves it on a notch or two, with the aim of making a properly durable personal virtual reality device powered by your phone. 

It arrives ready built, so you just have to drop your smartphone into the end and set out to explore the new worlds that developers in Hull are working away to create. It looks very interesting, perhaps we should have a "Visr games" section at the next Three Thing Game. 

I've signed up (always one for a new gadget me). You can find the project on Kickstarter here.