By: Andrew Lister
Nintendo has done it again. Just when you think they couldn't come up with yet another outside-the-box concept (pun totally intended), they release a very strange, yet really impressive idea upon the world.
That idea is Labo. Stupid name aside, Labo turns toward engineering and the world of edutainment to create a brand new experience that pairs elaborate cardboard creations with the Nintendo Switch.
Yeah, you read that correctly. Nintendo is producing a series of cardboard diagrams that you put together to play video games in completely different and creative ways.
How creative, you ask? Well, during the trailer we saw the creation of a working cardboard piano, fishing rod, motorbike handlebars, camera, and remote-controlled robots. And that's not even mentioning the super cool VR-esque robot get-up that allows a child to literally play a game as a Transformer.
At first, you might ask yourself, "Is Nintendo really trying to sell us cardboard?" Yes, they certainly are. However, Labo is far more than just cardboard. It's an opportunity for kids to use their imaginations and do something different and more active both with their bodies and their minds. Video games are often looked down upon for their sedentary nature; they are blamed as negative influences. This flips the script completely and will fuel young minds toward engineering and figuring out how things work and are made.
And let's make an aspect of that perfectly clear: Nintendo said ahead of the announcement that this was something "crafted for kids and those who are kids at heart." This wasn't something meant for adults or hardcore gamers, and that's completely fine! Also, I totally see what you did there, Nintendo. "Crafted" for kids, eh?
So how exactly does all this work? Well, Nintendo's Joy-Con controllers not only have built in HD rumble, but the bottom of the right Joy-Con includes an IR sensor. Put simply, it is advanced technology that can determine distance and detect the shapes of objects. It's a feature that has been underutilized up until this point, but now it can be used in a number of really unique ways.
For example, the Labo piano works by inserting the Joy-Con with the sensor facing inside the box. When you press a key, the reflective tape on the keys are picked up by the controller and then transferred directly to the system, which plays the note. You can even add in filters that change the sounds made on your Switch, providing different ways to play music.
Nintendo Labo launches on April 20th, and you can pick up two different Toy-Con packs (a genius name, by the way). The first pack is a collection of five different creations: RC cars, fishing rod, house, motorbike, and piano; the second one is the complete and complex robot kit. The set of five will sell for $69.99, and the robot kit will be $79.99. Not only do you get the cardboard kits, but you get a physical copy of the gaming software.
While this may not be something for everyone, I commend whoever at Nintendo cooked up this crazy idea. This project screams Nintendo and showcases the company's continued innovation beyond its competition. Instead of chasing Sony and Microsoft to 4K and VR, they consistently change the definition of what it means to be a gamer and what their hardware can do. I hope these sell well, and I'm looking forward to what else might come out of their secret Lab...o.
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