Will Nintendo Labo Be a Win or Fail for the Switch?
Paper Mario's Dream Come True
When the company has at a high it could sell us anything- and has if you think of all the needless Mario swag that has been thrown at us since the early 80's including that awful tasting Super Mario Brothers cereal. With last years release of the Nintendo Switch throwing Nintendo's name back in the ring as a real contender in the console wars after the failings of the Wii and Wii U, anything marketed for the new handheld and on TV combination seems a good one.
Let us see a full library of the throw back Virtual Console games, give me reboots like the Spyro The Dragon Trilogy coming to a Switch near you in the near future.
Give me...Nintendo cardboard retailing at nearly $70 a kit and call that an innovation?
That's right Gombas and Gombettes, if you haven't seen enough cardboard in those Paper Mario games for the 3DS, you can now buy your own DIY cardboard folding kit to add to your console, which left many of us scratching our heads.
The Labo kits for The Nintendo Switch are $70 cardboard accessories of sort that add an element of DIY exploration to the system, but I'm stuck at the why.
The Labo Interactive Building Experince
Marketed to the kids, and kids at heart, Nintendo is banking hard on The Labo to take off with clever marketing and pre-orders already in retailers and online. According to the Nintendo press kit for The Labo; using modular cardboard and The Switch components, kids and adults alike can create cool creations like a playable piano, robot, and other playable toys that can be incorporated into your gaming experience.
Where I get where they are coming from with the new and inventive ways to play with your console- think back to the scan-able cards for the 3DS that unlocked smaller mini games involving famed Nintendo characters, I don't really see the market for cardboard things that I can wrap around my joycons and probably use once before the rip.
Maybe I am not the demographic here, but exactly why would I want to put a cardboard shell around my Switch and make it a playable piano? Something like that may be neat once but not at the price point.
The 3DS experimented with cards that could be scanned to unlock mini games by the use of the camera and the 3D technology, perhaps paving the idea for The Labo.
Variety And Robot Labo
Two kits, already in pre-sale to be released in April, The Labo is described on Nintendo's website as having two styles available for the launch including a Variety and Robot kit.
From Nintendo's site on The Labo described as the following in their press kit:
Variety Kit ($69.99MSRP*)
- Toy-Con RC Car: Insert the Left and Right Joy-Con into your newly built RC Car and control its movement using touch screen controls on the Nintendo Switch console. The HD Rumble feature in the Joy-Con controllers will cause vibrations that move the car in the direction you choose. Materials to construct two RC Cars are included.
- Toy-Con Fishing Rod: Construct the Fishing Rod with an active, rotating reel that is attached by string to a cradle holding the Nintendo Switch console. Catch one of many exotic fish shown swimming on the Nintendo Switch screen by casting your Fishing Rod and unwinding the reel to lower the hook. Once you feel a vibration from the Joy-Con inserted in the reel, you must tug the Fishing Rod upward and crank the reel quickly to try and complete the catch!
- Toy-Con House: By inserting various assembled blocks into openings in the sides and bottom of the House, you can interact with, play games with and feed a cute creature on the front-facing Nintendo Switch screen. Each differently shaped block is detected by the IR Motion Camera on the Right Joy-Con inserted on top of the House.
- Toy-Con Motorbike: Insert each Joy-Con into an assembled set of handlebars to drive a motorbike on the Nintendo Switch screen. Pressing the ignition button starts the engine, while twisting the right handle activates the throttle. Leaning your body or turning the handlebars left and right controls the motorbike.
- Toy-Con Piano: After assembling a beautifully crafted 13-key piano and inserting the Nintendo Switch console and Joy-Con, you can experiment with your own musical creations by pressing different keys. You can even insert different assembled knobs to create new sound effects and tones!
Robot Kit ($79.99MSRP*)
- Toy-Con Robot: Create a wearable Robot suit, and insert the Left and Right Joy-Con into the designated slots on the backpack and visor to assume control of the robot, which is shown on the TV when the Nintendo Switch console is docked. Enjoy a variety of fun game-play experiences, including Robot mode, in which you can destroy in-game buildings and UFOs.
The prospects of these DIY projects do sound fun and add a new element to the capability of what can be done with The Switch, it really doesn't seem to do much to add to game play.
Crafting And Gaming
While the introduction of The Labo is still in the early stages, it seems to be more directed to younger users, taking eyes off the fact there still isn't much of a library released for the platform as it been out for about a year now.
Perhaps it is the much older player in me that seems to say, while making things out of cardboard is great and all Nintendo, could you bring me another game to play?
Of all the consoles I own, Nintendo sadly defaults to my Mario, Zelda, and throwbacks console as I leave my big girl gaming to other platforms and I really wish that Nintendo would step up and try to capture more of the adult market in a meaningful way by getting some teen or adult rated games rather than just the nostalgia of Mario Kart or I will keep buying my first person shooters on PlayStation.
I can't see too many parents going for The Labo either, at its ridiculous starting price for pieces of cardboard. While neat and well intended, with easy to follow on screen directions holding the attention of a kid long enough to craft some cardboard robot parts.
I would like to see The Labo prove me wrong with its wonder.
"Leave Luck To Heaven"
Nintendo is no stranger to reinventing itself.
In its early history Nintendo started as a card company, then moving into toys and games before finding its calling in gaming software in the early 80's. It's name, rumored to mean "Leave Luck To Heaven" according on Japanese translation, Nintendo has definitely been fortunate to reinvent themselves time and again.
There were several times that we thought we had seen all Nintendo had to offer, but the company refuses to be the underdog and uses their colorful style, great original characters, and draws us all back in for the newest Super Mario Odyssey Download Featuring Lugi's Balloons, or release of Mario Kart 8.
We love Nintendo to bring out the child in all of us and bring us back to that first moment we learned to love gaming. My time on The Switch is that break between a Rage Quit on the Xbox One.
Maybe I will learn to love The Labo and make some cardboard utopia and find new uses for The Switch that I never saw possible before and remind me of the time as a child when I got such joy out of playing with an old appliance box when my parents replaced something around the house.
Then again, at the $70 price point, this magic cardboard better be something special indeed.