Nintendo’s latest Switch accessory is made of cardboard, and Labo may be the firm’s best announcement yet
Nintendo certainly isn’t shy about making leftfield announcements. The ambidextrous Switch console broke games console tradition, and we all remember that – admittedly gimmicky – R.O.B robot games helper from the late eighties. But Nintendo’s newly launched Labo accessory isn’t quite so high-tech.
Yes, this is Nintendo’s Labo, a cardboard DIY Switch accessory designed for inquisitive minds. Together with the Switch console (sorry Wii U owners), each Labo kit provides enough tools for kids – and playful adults – to construct their own DIY creations, such as a fully functioning cardboard piano, fishing rod or driveable RC car, and see their creations come to life.
Nintendo Labo: Everything you need to know
Nintendo Labo: UK price and release date
The Nintendo Labo launches on 27 April. We finally have UK pricing too, and can expect to pay £60 for the “Variety Kit” and £70 for the “Robot Kit”. I’ll go into more detail about the differences between the two in a bit, but just know that both kits include a cartridge of games and stickers to customise your cardboard creations.
There’s also a separate “Customisation set” on offer, which includes extra designs for your Toy-Con creations with stickers, tape and stencils for £9.
Nintendo Labo: What is it and what can you do?
Each Labo kit comes with a set of modular sheets of cardboard, specifically designed to interact with the Switch and the Joy-Con controllers. Simply construct your chosen accessory, such as motorbike handlebars or a birdhouse, into what Nintendo aptly calls a “Toy-Con” and plug your console and controllers into the designated areas.
Let me explain just how these accessories come to life. For instance, you can construct a fully functioning 13-key piano and insert the Nintendo Switch console and Right Joy-Con controller. As you play, the IR Motion Camera in the Right Joy-Con detects which keys are pressed and plays each note through the console’s built-in speakers.
Likewise, you can construct a pair of handlebars, with a Joy-Con inserted in each side and the Nintendo Switch console cradled in the middle. Simply hit the ignition button, turn the right handle to engage the accelerator, and watch your daring races unfold on the Nintendo Switch screen.
As for the list of available accessories on launch, the $70 variety kit includes the RC car, fishing rod, house, motorbike and piano construction tools, while the $80 Robot Kit includes the Robot tools. The latter enables you to take control of a fully functioning robot, destroying cities and taking out UFOs in-game.
Nintendo Labo: Early verdict
Labo is certainly one of Nintendo’s more intriguing announcements in recent months. And with the Switch’s first birthday fast approaching, I’m convinced the Labo accessories aren’t a gimmick. Here’s why.
For starters, Labo appeals to a generation of kids who may not necessarily be interested in Airfix kits, but are big video-game fans. This merging of the digital and physical can still inspire creativity, and perhaps introduce children to engineering-driven professions in the future.
Likewise, unlike other plastic-ridden games accessories long since forgotten and dumped on the rubbish heap, Labo’s cardboard construction is very environmentally friendly.
Essentially, Labo is an approach that only Nintendo could successfully pull off, and I’m looking forward to spending many hours with its cardboard creativity kits when Labo launches in April.