Meet the Nintendo Labo, Nintendo’s High-Tech Cardboard

UPDATE: Both the Variety Kit and the admittedly cooler Robot Kit are now available for purchase.

Gotta give credit where it’s due. In Nintendo’s case, that would be their highly-innovative spirit, and love for all things wild, unconventional, even wacky.

After releasing the game changer that is the Nintendo Switch last year, the Japanese giant has enjoyed a successful run with Switch-exclusive titles, like Super Mario Odyssey, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

As if that wasn’t enough of a groundbreaking innovation, the big N strikes back again, this time with a high-tech cardboard.

Yes, you read that right.

Say hello to the Nintendo Labo, the latest member to the Nintendo family. A wild new experiment for the Switch, it allows players to insert the red-slash-blue current-gen console into cardboard pieces to build robots, remote-controlled cars, and houses, among other creations.

Much to the joy of your inner architect self, the construction process is simple and hassle-free. Start with a piece of cardboard, build one of the many choices available, power it up by putting the Switch in, then enjoy the playtime. Child’s play.

Essentially, the Labo wishes to combine “the magic of the Nintendo Switch with the fun of DIY creations,” and that was clearly reflected in the trailer, where cardboard creations are used to play piano music, steer cars, and control in-game robots remotely. Y’all, the future of technology has arrived!

April 20, 2018 is the date to look out for. Players will be able to buy two different sets of Toy-Cons (a wordplay on the Switch’s Joy-Con, because this is Nintendo we’re talking about) – the Variety Set (S$92), and the Robot Set (S$106). It’s to be noted, however, that while the two kits will not be mandatory, the cartridge is still needed.

According to Nintendo, here’s a breakdown of the items present in the Variety Kit:

Toy-Con RC Car: Insert the Left and Right Joy-Con into your newly built RC Car and control its movement using touchscreen 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!

Meanwhile, users can look forward to building “an interactive robot suit with a visor, backpack and straps for your hands, which you can then wear to assume control of a giant in-game robot”, which is, in a way, Real Steel materialised in real life.

In the case of broken cardboard, the Customisation Set is here to help. Armed with stencils, stickers, and coloured tape, the additional S$13 kit will bring more joy and smiles especially to the young ones.

Kids in New York City and San Francisco will have first dibs during Nintendo’s Labo event, scheduled for February 2-3, 2018, and March 2-4, 2018 respectively.

All in all, the Nintendo Labo is incredulously ridiculous, but also a hell lot of wholesome fun. If there’s someone who can pull off absurdity to great success, it’s definitely Nintendo, and they’ve once again shown us that nothing can get in the way of great innovation. Heck, never would I’ve thought to see a day where a mere piece of cardboard is capable of such magic.

Nintendo, never stop being amazing.

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