15 things you should know about Nintendo Labo
WE BREAK DOWN SOME OF THE INCREDIBLE FACTS AROUND THE SWITCH’S REVOLUTIONARY NEW ACCESSORY KITS.
GIVEN THE SUCCESS of the Switch and the impressive library of first-party games we’ve received in the past 12 months, you’d think that Nintendo would be all out of great ideas. But here we are, barely into 2018, and the company has turned the industry on its head all over again — come on already, give somebody else a chance! Nintendo Labo launched on 27 April, and it’s already shaking up the way our imaginations coalesce with the wonderful world of videogames. It could be the evolution of play as we know it and, once again, it all starts here on the Nintendo Switch.
It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Back in 2012, notorious industry analyst Michael Pachter joked that should Nintendo ever make a cardboard box and slap its logo on the side of it, fans of the company would still buy it. Well, what do you know; it’s taken a decade, but one of Pachter’s predictions has finally come (mostly) true!
To put it simply, Nintendo Labo is a set of interactive build-and-play experiences. It’s a toy and software line that asks players to build intricate constructions from sheets of cardboard, later combining them with the Switch and Joy-Cons to unlock new and innovative avenues of play.
Each project — known internally as a Toy-Con — comes with branded sheets of cardboard, rubber bands, string and other assorted craftwork items. It will also be
bundled in with software that features detailed interactive instructions and a relevant mini-game designed to showcase your new construction.
Nintendo has so far shown off just six of the projects that make up the first wave, and they effortlessly capture a sense of childlike imagination — the do-it-yourself spirit that any of you who spent childhoods playing with cardboard boxes will immediately recognise. These projects span everything from larger pieces, such as a fully functional piano and a kit that transforms into an autonomous robot, alongside smaller constructs that let you fashion items like steering wheels, fishing rods, RC Cars, controllable creatures and even a camera. While Labo is predominantly designed for kids, it’s clear that an adult will need to be present and accounted for in the construction stage. Is this fun for all the family, or the sort of headache parents could do without? That much isn’t clear just yet, but we’re banking on it likely being the former.
The Robot Kit, one of two kits that was available at launch (and the most expensive revealed so far) will, for example, take a number of hours to piece together. It has foot straps, a visor and a big bloody backpack that will not only need to be built from the templates, but then connected together with an intricate system of strings and bands — necessary so that the game registers your arm and foot movements as you control a robot hell-bent on levelling a city that’s being displayed in the Switch-holding visor.
It’s such a wild idea. All of the projects demonstrated thus far have an exciting, almost magical quality about them. They capture the imagination and a childlike sense of wonder, joining with the excellent force-feedback found in the Joy-Cons to create some truly impressive experiences.
We will always lament the death of the plastic peripheral. The extension of play and the newfound sense of immersion they introduced to gaming will never be forgotten — though the amount of space they consumed in our homestead certainly will be. Nintendo has taken all of this in its stride and delivered a product that not only delivers new avenues for play, but something that can exist as a learning tool; as a way of bringing people and families together, and as a conduit for unlocking creativity. And when it’s all said and done, it can be easily flatpacked and stored away for another day without consuming the entirely of your living room. Nintendo Labo is unlike anything we’ve seen before on console, and it has the potential to be huge.