If you were ever wondering which direction Nintendo was headed, now you know. They made a hard left in a direction no one was expecting, but in fact it was actually back to their roots of being a toy company before ever Mario ever graced an arcade cabinet.
On Thursday, January 18th, Nintendo unveiled its newest Switch peripheral “Labo” which is a set of cardboard cutouts that can be shaped as a number of “Toy-Cons” to use with minigames. According to the Guardian, there are a total of 25 sheets in the initial package that are assembled to create a robot backpack, fishing pole, toy house, remote-control bug, and most impressive to me, a piano. Nintendo mentioned they are aiming this product at children, but the varying complexity is a bit concerning. The piano, for example, is said to take about 2 hours to build, but the finished product probably is something pretty ingenuous. The “joy-cons” fit on the side and use their infrared cameras to detect reflective strips on each key and there are even dials on the side to change the piano’s tone. Labo will hit store shelves on April 20th, and, as Polygon reports, will be priced at $69.99.
As a kids’ toy, the durability of the cardboard and price point worry me. I can see parents being weary of shelling out almost $70 for what they would see as some cardboard along with the system itself and games. I commend Nintendo for testing the waters on something completely new, they’ve never been scared to try before. Using analog sticks and rumble packs on the N64 controllers changed gaming forever, so great ideas are in their blood. We will have to wait and see if the Labo will join the ranks of Virtual Boy and the Power Glove or if there is something there really memorable, either way it’s exciting to get such a shock from our playground friends at Nintendo.