Last night, the Japanese gaming giant Nintendo unveiled a surprising new experience heading to their Nintendo Switch hybrid console. After months of focusing on the older audiences with games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, DOOM and the recently revealed Bayonetta 3, Nintendo dedicated a brief 3 minutes to introduce a brand new product that, while pretty “out there” at first, actually fits pretty well into the company – and console’s – philosophy: Nintendo Labo.
This Is Nintendo Switch
From the moment the hybrid system was first revealed, it’s biggest draw – and PR message – has been the variety of play styles on offer. The most notable of which has been the ability to explore Hyrule on the big screen, or rescue Peach from the grasp of Bowser while on the loo or daily commute, but it goes further than that. You can choose to hold a Joy-Con in each hand and throw punches in ARMS like you’re really there, use a more traditional controller set-up, or split the Joy-Cons for some impromptu multiplayer.
We probably all thought the possibilities were endless – but in a mere 3 minutes, we’ve seen the Switch played like a piano, reeled in like a fishing rod, controlled like a radio-controlled car and more. This is a world of new ways to play – this is Nintendo Switch.
It Has “Nintendo” Written All Over It
And I don’t just mean it being called “Nintendo Labo”. Before Nintendo turned to the world of video games, they enjoyed a period as a toy company making iconic playthings like the Ultra Hand, Love Tester and… cardboard cars . Even once they were in the gaming sphere, the “experience” was at the forefront of their biggest success, the Wii. Lacking in the power its competition had, the Wii became a staple of household entertainment centres due to its revolutionary motion controls. The controller became an extension of the player; a throwing arm, a tennis racket and more. Now it’s your fishing rod, motorbike handlebars and RC Car. In fact, speaking of that last one…
Toy-Con Engages Your Imagination
It would be an absolute lie to suggest video games aren’t imaginative. The worlds they take us to, the characters we play as and more are diverse and limitless. Some games even let us chart our own adventure or live a life the way we want, but Nintendo Labo and the Toy-Con cardboard accessories go a leap further, as shown by the reactions I’ve seen just a little over an hour since their announcement.
What comes to mind when you see the above image, a Joy-Con powered device you can control like an RC Car? I’ve seen people excitedly preemptively challenge each other to races, while my mind raced to Robot Wars! What other uses can you think of?
An Evolution of an Idea
It’s no secret that Nintendo has been looking into the technological advances happening around them, such as the introduction of Virtual Reality gaming. While the company recently denied plans to join Sony’s PlayStation 4 in the VR arms race, Nintendo Labo arguably shows a clear inspiration from its cardboard cousin Google Cardboard – an extremely affordable VR headset powered by an external phone and dedicated apps. Instead of simply copying Google like a patent suggested they might, Nintendo have taken this inspiration and moulded it into their own vision – a product that while similar, is also nothing alike.
Nintendo aficionados may have also noticed a similarity between the Robot Kit video game and Project Giant Robo, which was reportedly cancelled back in February 2017. Well, it looks like some dreams never die.
Is The Price Right?
One thing people immediately noticed after Nintendo Labo‘s reveal, was the price-tag for each of its starter sets – a “Variety Kit” ($69.99) and “Robot Kit” ($79.99). That sounds like an awful lot for cardboard peripherals, but of course, the majority of that cost will be for the software, with $59.99 being the standard SRP for Nintendo-published titles. Also, while the peripherals are cardboard, you do get an awful lot of it. Nintendo’s website lists a whopping 19 cardboard sheets for the Variety Kit and a colossal 28 for the “Robot Kit”!
What concerns me though, is the durability. We all know cardboard isn’t exactly as tough as diamonds, but small children will still find a way to breach their defences with an unsightly scratch. The Guardian notes that Nintendo plans on offering replacement cardboard, but doesn’t mention what the cost will be. Another worry of mine, is that once these cardboard contraptions are constructed, how can we safely store them (especially the colossal Robot Kit)? As for whether Nintendo Labo can survive the test of time, both literally and figuratively, we’ll have to wait and see when the sets launch in the US on 20th April 2018 and a week later in Europe, on 27th April 2018.
What are your thoughts on Nintendo Labo?
Credit to Ashley Day for pointing out Nintendo’s Paper Model Series.