Nintendo Labo was the surprise no one expected, as when Nintendo stated before its reveal that viewers would need a child-like wonder to enjoy it, most assumed it would just be a more casual title. The cardboard creations actually have a history with Nintendo’s past as toy makers, but now come to players both young and old as the newest method of play on Switch. While many immediately brushed it off, Labo is easily one of the most wonderfully creative things Nintendo has managed to make that will likely be remembered as a starting point for many great things to come.
Labo sets are currently split between the variety pack, which features a large number of cardboard creations, and the robot set, which features one key creation at a larger scale. The variety set features an array of smaller titles for players to experience from fishing, racing to even playing a piano. While these are some things an older fan might not be interested in, they actually offer a huge amount of variety. The racing track allows users to create their own tracks by scanning real life objects with the infrared scanned, the piano allows different tones to be used and fishing even lets players design their own fish that can be captured. This presents Labo’s simple genius in the most easy way with how truly inventive it can be.
While it might not present the most high-tech games, Labo shines in its ability to make players think creatively. The first step is to create each cardboard toy, known adorably as Toy-Cons, from scratch. While this might be a quick task for an adult, the younger players are the ones who truly get the most from this. The Switch itself is the tutorial and will walk through how to build each individual part in a straightforwardly easy way with images that can even be rotated for easy understanding. While it’s true some might require the assistance of an adult, this is still a great way to get people involved with their own creations. They can be decorated with a variety of pens and even stickers available for Labo, so no two will be exactly the same and will represent the one who put it together.
After they’re entirely put together, the Joy-Cons are then inserted into various parts of the Toy-Con before they can finally be used. The controllers take advantage of the HD rumble and infrared in order to play the variety of games without direct use of button controls. The piano set, for example, uses the infrared scanner to tell which keys have been pressed with reflective stickers on each one. The most simple of the Toy-Cons is the car which simply uses the Joy-Cons HD rumble to move in multiple directions, but makes for a fun and simple introduction to what can be made. The robot set is the largest and features an entire backpack with working machines that function as arms and legs that allows the user to punch through walls and destroy anything in their path. While not much can be said about the game itself just yet, the process of simply putting everything together would be a lengthy one that would be impressive for a younger player to have fun creating.
Of course, the absolutely biggest deciding factor for Labo’s longevity will be the cardboard itself. Cardboard doesn’t last forever, takes a lot of storage space and can very easily be damaged especially depending on the age of the user or how it’s handled. Even an accidental step in the dark could leave to one of the many Toy-Cons being damaged if left on the ground, which can be common in a household with younger players. Nintendo has come out to say they would supply replacements for purchase, but one would hope that the quality is enough that it can at least last a good amount of time before that’s necessary. The quality of the Toy-Cons seems above average to the every day package, so they may just have gotten it right when it comes to stability with at least older children and adults.
It might be easy for some to simply write Labo off as a toy made for younger audiences, but it’s truly more than what it appears. Labo is a creative way for people to not only play, but also an amazing way for younger children to experience creating something from scratch in a fun, learning environment. Nintendo has always thought outside the box to make entertaining ways for players to enjoy their games and this is not the last we will see of these ideas from them. Although it’s starting out as simply an add on for a variety of mini-game titles, we’re likely to see compatibility in future titles with creative new ways that will be fun for anyone with that child-like imagination. Those who want to experience Nintendo Labo for themselves will be able to when it releases later this year on April 20.