Many will remember the excitement that came with the announcement of the Nintendo Switch last year. A console that boasted both technological advancements with its Joy-Con remotes, and the ingenious idea of a portable home console finally being implemented successfully (lest we forget the handle on the GameCube). Nintendo’s latest announcement, however, has left most scratching their heads and questioning the gaming monolith’s state of mind. I’m talking about Labo.
Sandwiched between announcements for Dark Souls: Remastered and Mario Tennis Aces was a strange concept which involves creating a number of Switch peripherals out of cardboard. Initially, I, like most of the people who saw this, scoffed at the audacity of a multi-billion dollar company trying to sell cardboard to the masses, only to then sit down and think about how ingenious a move this was. During the Nintendo Direct presentation, we were shown the contents of the two kits that will be available for purchase in late April.
Here’s our first look at the project:
First up is the Variety kit. This kit features the bulk of what we’ve seen, with items such as a piano, fishing-rod, and “RC cars” all making their debut. From the video we can see that what would normally be produced in plastic and sold for hundreds of pounds is instead created in flat-pack cardboard to be constructed by the user. This creates a unique opportunity for the user, as gamers are typically deprived of the experience of getting to put together their hardware (with the exception of PC-building enthusiasts).
The Switch device itself supplies step-by-step assembly instructions for the peripheral you are creating, and since it is nothing more than cardboard, there is an extreme level of customisation available. I personally feel that these products would be perfect for younger children and are an attempt to get children to be more active and imaginative.
Personally, the biggest draw-in is the Robot kit. The idea of strapping a bunch of cardboard to myself and stomping around as a virtual giant robot fills me with nothing but joy and a feeling of nostalgia for the days of my childhood. The kit comes with the cardboard to create a backpack which houses the internal components. This is mostly just some cord which is used to create resistance for the arms, as well a visor and two special Joy-Con holders.
The most exciting element about this is the sheer scope of the Labo project. Nintendo have the chance to create as many peripherals as they can think of, and with cardboard being recyclable, it is an environmentally friendly endeavour. Arguably, the one sticking point is the price. Nothing Nintendo puts out is cheap, we’ve known that for years, and Labo is no exception. With the Variety kit coming in at £59.99, the robot kit coming in at £69.99, and the customisation pack priced at £8.99 for what is essentially stickers and tape, it can be said that this is a bold move by Nintendo.
Regardless, Nintendo is once again cementing itself firmly as the staple of the family-gaming market.