15 things you should know about Nin­tendo Labo


TechLife Australia - - CONTENTS -

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.

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