If you are someone who grew up with Pokémon, you likely have enjoyed the various Pokémon games that had nothing to do with the main series. I remember how after red and blue blew up; we saw so many spins off titles like Pokèmon Pinball, Hey you, Pikachu! and even Pokémon Puzzle League. With so many Pokèmon games, it helps to keep the kiddos excited as they eagerly await the next main game or next exciting episode. While there are plenty of games you can pick from, I would argue that the best out of these was a game where it wasn’t about “Gotta Catch ’em all!” as much as it was “Snap ’em all.”
Pokèmon Snap‘s premise was simple but brilliant. Following a Pokèmon Photographer, Todd Snap, Professor Oak summons him to travel to Pokèmon Island, to take photos of the Pokèmon there. While it didn’t feature all 151 Pokèmon, it had a wide variety of Pokèmon to snap pictures of and it promoted the importance of taking the perfect pictures. Players would get grades on the photos sent to Oak, and kids could even print their pictures at their local Blockbuster. Sadly, for as revolutionary as the game was, we never saw a sequel. Why? You mean to say after the 7th generation and over 800 Pokèmon, Pokèmon Snap 2 was too farfetched of an idea?
From Pokèmon To Labo
So why did I talk about Pokèmon Snap during the introduction rather than Nintendo Labo? Well, the reason is that is to help set an idea of the potential that Nintendo has that they are not tapping. Chances are if I’m sure if I were to ask you, “What are your thoughts on Nintendo Labo?” one of the first reactions you would give me is a smirk and scoff under your breath; A fair response considering what we have seen it do within its own games.
As someone who has gone through the trouble of two kits already (and will probably get the next two later), I must admit that the concept of Labo really fascinates me. Yeah, you might laugh off the “RC Car” (because I know I did too), but the Fishing, House, Motorbike, and freaking Piano were brilliant concepts. They took some time to finish, and there was a lot of creativity that went in each craft and how they functioned.
So, with all of these amazing cardboard models we make, what do we do with them after their creations?
And that’s where our problem lies. One can say the Labo Motorbike (and other vehicle Labo) could work with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but that’s it. This isn’t to say Nintendo needs to drop what they’re doing and make more cardboard crafts, but rather, it would be interesting to see Nintendo implement the crafts into other games if possible.
Looking Back on the First Look at Nintendo Labo
If you recall the “First Look at Nintendo Labo” video, around the two-minute mark, we saw various other concepts of what could be done with Cardboard.
We got our Vehicle Kit later that let players make a car, plane, and submarine, but then we had other teases shown but felt like were dropped for whatever reason. We had this “Labo Bird” where you could flap its wings and have the head bop back and forth with the right Joy-Con stuff in its head. Then there was this rifle-looking object you could cock, and some kind of black arm thing that was hard to decipher.
And in the middle of all that, we also saw a quick look at the Labo Camera too and how simple it was to use. The left Joy-Con is on the right-hand side as the shoulder button would let you take pictures. Meanwhile, the right Joy-con is right where the Lens would be which you can rotate (to likely zoom in or out) and its special camera position having direct access into the box so help with the fancy inner workings. It was only on screen for a moment, but for those with hawk eyes, it didn’t take long for fans to make a connection between it and a certain other Nintendo Game that would let you take pictures.
There were mixed responses by onlookers upon the initial release, but then again, one could make an argument that Labo was magnificent. So much so, in fact, that Time gave the Nintendo Labo the title of “One of the Best Inventions of 2018.” Say what you will, but it certainly is amazing to think that having kids build props out of cardboard would be more entertaining than some might have first thought.
Nintendo Labo Kit 04: VR?!
So, what happened to those other Labo ideas? Do you mean to tell me that Nintendo came up with those concepts and did nothing with them one year after announcing Labo? Well, recently, Nintendo confirmed that there will be a 4th entry in the Labo series, and the title of the kit caught everyone off guard: VR. Nintendo will apparently dive into the realm of Virtual Reality (some would say this is second shot after the infamous Virtual Boy) although it is difficult to say how the Nintendo Switch will work in some kind of “VR Mode.” For now, focus on what the kit will get since it’s probably best to know what you would spend $80 on.
So, besides the actual “VR Headset” (to which I don’t know if there’s a way to strap it to your head like the “Robot headset”), you have five other projects. You have “Blaster,” which looks like an orange Superscope if you to it to your face. There is also two animal-theme Labo that covers the Bird and Elephant (which I didn’t expect was the “Black Arm” in the previous section). We also have a “Space Viewer,” but the biggest draw would be that Toy-Con Camera. It would seem that through the Headset, you would attach each of the Toy-Cons to it in order to interact with them.
That’s all fine and good, but after reading comments on forums and comment sections, many people saw the potential in what VR could do for Switch titles. It wouldn’t be just Virtual Reality on the Switch (although who knows how well that’s going to work), but… if Nintendo will use these with other games like what we saw with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
For some fans, they immediately pointed towards a certain Nintendo 64 classic. Would this be our hard confirmation that Pokèmon Snap 2 is coming to Switch? That would be so awesome to say yes, but we can’t be too confident in that guess yet. It isn’t like the game would require the Labo Camera, but it would be amazing if you could use it; To get an announcement and you find out you can play it either with a controller, or through that camera. Would be a heck of a way to get people excited for more Pokèmon goodness and take pictures of the Generation 2-7 Pokèmon and show how you can implement Labo into games.
There is one other possibility to consider, and this one will be a stretch. Later this year, we will get the 8th generation of Pokèmon with Sword and Shield. New location, New Pokèmon, and other new goodies coming into play. What if though, there is a mode in the game where you get to take pictures of Pokèmon too? Doesn’t have to be like Pokèmon Snap, but just a simple mode where you can take photographs of your Pokèmon to share on social Media? And to go one step further, it could be a fun way to use that camera and make it where kids playing feel like photographers.
Again, this isn’t to tell Nintendo to make their games “Labo Compatible” but much like what they did with the Amiibo, you could do that too here.
Part of me likes to think Nintendo wants to ensure more is being done with Nintendo Labo outside of the original concept video we saw last year. Could we see a fifth Labo kit? Possibly, but Nintendo needs to make a bigger push on how fun it would be to play with them outside of their mini-games. Not to keep making a reference back to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but can you imagine if they had done more ideas like that?
For me, I’m hopeful on a brighter future of the Labo Kits. STEAM Crafts can be important for kids since it lets them know how to build things and be creative. As someone who works at a library, I’ve seen just how clever kids can be through arts and crafts. Labo might not be revolutionary by any stretch, but it lets kids learn new things and how the functions of the Crafts work with the game.
As fun as it would be to see Labo at the libraries, I know that would be overkill. Still, the Labo do provide unique gaming experiences. And if Nintendo wanted to, they could take full advantage of this with upcoming games so they can provide unique gaming experiences. Whether if this road leads to Pokèmon Snap 2 or not, is anyone’s guess, but personally, I hope we get a surprise reveal this year. Who knows how deep Nintendo will go into Virtual Reality, but hopefully it will expand further than just the VR Kit.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our article talking about 5 Nintendo Series That Should Go VR. Alongside with what I talked about with Pokèmon Snap, there are some other interesting concepts that Nintendo could make great use of if they chose to do so.
So, what do you think?
Could Pokèmon Snap 2 happen? Will Nintendo be able to capture the concept of VR next month? And what else can Nintendo do with Labo to showcase the possibilities of having these kits with games? Leave your thoughts down below and be sure to follow us here at Culture of Gaming for more articles on Pokèmon, Labo and other things in the gaming world.
Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 04: VR Kit will be out on April 12. While you can get the whole kit for $80, you can also get them separately. The Starter Set with the VR Goggles and Blaster will be $40 while the other crafts (minus the space viewer) will be $20 each. The first expansion will have the Camera and Elephant while the second will be The Bird and Wind Pedal.