Nintendo is a weird company. They produce a lot of good ideas, but every console cycle a few “what the heck?” ideas squeak through, along with some that just plain suck. I’m still trying to figure out where LABO falls on that scale. It seems like a harmless concept on the surface, and those are fine as long as they don’t become the signature, forced gimmick that drags down their host hardware (see Wii Music, Zelda Phantom Hourglass and Star Fox Zero). Nintendo also has the irritating habit of foisting overpriced tech demos on its consumer base (1-2 Switch), and I think $70 for the LABO Variety Kit and $80 for the Robot Kit are just too damn much, even with the included software.
Nintendo has released three new trailers to detail the kits’ features and to justify the quantity of gameplay vis a vis the price. There is a surprising amount of depth here; the software doesn’t just give you basic instructions but actually demonstrates, via cutaways, how the toys are engineered and how they work to leverage the Switch and Joy-Cons’ tech in admittedly ingenious ways. The minigames themselves are quite creative and look high in production values. But to me at least it still feels like Nintendo is selling cheapo alpha development hardware for $70 and $80 respectively, when the cardboard should have stayed in the R&D labs and some actual hardware should be running for those steep prices.
In all fairness some of this stuff is pretty smart. There’s a whole “build your own” module that teaches kids basic physical construction and logic circuit engineering. They also emphasize that this is basically an art project on video game steroids—“it’s cardboard after all, so feel free to express your personality.” For $20 or even $30 I could stomach that, but this is $80 cardboard that in all likelihood will junk up your house for a while and ultimately get tossed in the trash. Childhood art supplies are typically inexpensive for this very reason.
Like I said, Nintendo always has a few uniquely, err, “Nintendo” ideas per console cycle, and some of them feel forced and half-baked. Even if it’s just for little kids, I’m still not sold on LABO and I feel it’s one of those forced, undercooked concepts. Cardboard is fine for rough internal development, but a modular, Lego-style controller building kit feels like the logical endpoint for a product like this and a more reasonable ask at $70-80. But hey, Nintendo just gave us an incredible 2017 and, LABO aside, 2018 is already looking pretty great. I’ll give them one or two dorky, head-scratching ideas, just as long as I don’t have to play Metroid Prime 4 with a cardboard Wiimote.
Check the trailers below and decide for yourself if LABO is worth the asking price. No comment or speculation, at least from me, on whether LABO’s 4-20 release date is unintentional brilliance or just an uncomfortable joke.
Nintendo recently unveiled Nintendo Labo, which combines the magic of Nintendo Switch* with the fun of DIY creations. Nintendo Labo kits offer interactive build-and-play experiences designed to inspire creativity and discovery in people of all ages. And there’s much more left to discover about Nintendo Labo.
Today, Nintendo revealed three new videos that showed off some more details about Nintendo Labo, as well as additional features of the first two Nintendo Labo kits – the Variety Kit and the Robot Kit – which launch on April 20.
One particularly cool feature that’s part of the software included with each Nintendo Labo kit is Toy-Con Garage, which can be accessed in Discover mode. Toy-Con Garage introduces basic principles of technology in a fun and accessible way, allowing you to combine various simple inputs and outputs to invent new ways to play with your Toy-Con projects.
In addition to Toy-Con Garage, the Toy-Con projects in each kit offer numerous ways to have fun as you Make, Play and Discover different experiences.
Build your own wearable Toy-Con Robot suit and assume control of a giant in-game robot, completing challenges and destroying in-game objects to unlock powerful new abilities.
If you’re feeling competitive, you can even challenge a friend in two-player local battles or compare your high scores/rankings with other players! (An additional Robot Kit and Joy-Con controllers are required for two-player mode; sold separately.)
Nintendo Labo encourages you to use your imagination and creativity to customize your cardboard Toy-Con creations in a variety of ways. The Robot Kit even allows you to customize and level-up your in-game robot.
Toy-Con Piano: After assembling your 13-key Piano, you can host an impromptu recital or record your songs and play them back for your biggest fans-in-the-making. Experiment with different sounds and pitches to create something truly unique – even a song composed entirely of cat noises!
Toy-Con Motorbike: Grab ahold of your newly constructed handlebars and race through different tracks, challenging CPU opponents or collecting targets across mountainous terrain. You can even create your own custom tracks, so start planning your designs now!
Toy-Con Fishing Rod: There are many exotic fish to discover, and some of the deep-ocean fish are particularly tricky to catch. Show off your collection in Aquarium mode and have fun creating your own fish with different shapes and colors – simply insert and scan different cards in the Toy-Con Piano to get started. (Assembled Toy-Con Piano is required to access Aquarium mode.)
Toy-Con House: Befriend the cute creature living in your Toy-Con House (shown on the Nintendo Switch screen) and discover different ways to interact and play with it. There are a variety of experiences to discover, including mine cart races, bowling and jump rope.
Toy-Con RC Car: The RC Car is full of unique and surprising features. Since the Variety Kit includes materials to build two Toy-Con RC Cars, you can race against a friend, set up obstacle courses or even compete in a sumo-inspired challenge to try to knock your opponent’s RC Car over (additional Joy-Con controllers are required; sold separately). Create a path using the reflective stickers included in the kit, and set the car to auto-drive along a specific route using the IR Motion Camera on the Right Joy-Con controller.