Nintendo Labo mixes DIY cardboard craft projects with gaming…and it’s awesome

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Yesterday, Nintendo teased that it would be announcing something…different. A new interactive experience, they called it. The tease drove the internet into a frenzy. Many warned hardcore gamers that they should temper their expectations and not expect something that caters to them. No, it wouldn’t be a new Smash Brothers, or Metroid, or even Animal Crossing.

Instead, what they announced was the sort of off-the-wall, awesome and creative concept that only Nintendo does. It’s called Labo, and it combines the magic if DIY cardboard craft with video games, in weird and wonderful ways. This is one instance where it’s better watched than read, so just take a look:

It’ll be available in April this year, coming in two variety packs that include the cardboard cutouts and the games you’ll play with them. To start things off, there’ll be the Toy-Con 01 Variety Kit and the Toy-Con 02 Robot Kit, coming in at $70 and $80 respectively.

Here’re more details on the kits:

Variety Kit

  • Toy-Con RC Car: Insert the Left and Right Joy-Con into your newly built RC Car and control its movement using touch screen controls on the Nintendo Switch console. The HD Rumble feature in the Joy-Con controllers will cause vibrations that move the car in the direction you choose. Materials to construct two RC Cars are included.
  • Toy-Con Fishing Rod: Construct the Fishing Rod with an active, rotating reel that is attached by string to a cradle holding the Nintendo Switch console. Catch one of many exotic fish shown swimming on the Nintendo Switch screen by casting your Fishing Rod and unwinding the reel to lower the hook. Once you feel a vibration from the Joy-Con inserted in the reel, you must tug the Fishing Rod upward and crank the reel quickly to try and complete the catch!
  • Toy-Con House: By inserting various assembled blocks into openings in the sides and bottom of the House, you can interact with, play games with and feed a cute creature on the front-facing Nintendo Switch screen. Each differently shaped block is detected by the IR Motion Camera on the Right Joy-Con inserted on top of the House.
  • Toy-Con Motorbike: Insert each Joy-Con into an assembled set of handlebars to drive a motorbike on the Nintendo Switch screen. Pressing the ignition button starts the engine, while twisting the right handle activates the throttle. Leaning your body or turning the handlebars left and right controls the motorbike.
  • Toy-Con Piano: After assembling a beautifully crafted 13-key piano and inserting the Nintendo Switch console and Joy-Con, you can experiment with your own musical creations by pressing different keys. You can even insert different assembled knobs to create new sound effects and tones!
Read  Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit review – Putting the car into cardboard

Robot Kit

  • Toy-Con Robot: Create a wearable Robot suit, and insert the Left and Right Joy-Con into the designated slots on the backpack and visor to assume control of the robot, which is shown on the TV when the Nintendo Switch console is docked. Enjoy a variety of fun game-play experiences, including Robot mode, in which you can destroy in-game buildings and UFOs.

Personally, I think this is awesome. While I have close to zero interest in this myself, and my kids are now a little old for this, I think it’s a great way to get kids to do intricate projects that have a damned good payoff.

Speaking to Time, Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime said that while the tech and the concept could be used for more things down the line, the goal right now is to “communicate the power of the idea with Nintendo Labo [and] really enable players to make their creations, personalize them, and enjoy the [inherent] gameplay experiences … We think that’s going to be a great way to start and then progress down the path.”

Of course, half the internet is angry at the very existence of this, but here’s the thing. Not everything has to be for you. Most of the Switch audience right now is made up of core gamers and lapsed gamers who’ve discovered the joys of gaming again thanks to the Switch’s portability. Now, it opens up to children, the audience that the other half of the internet already believes plays Nintendo games.

Last Updated: January 18, 2018

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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