As an adult gamer, it's hard to hide the disappointment after Nintendo's recent announcement. Family gamers, but especially children, should have a lot of fun with the latest prank by Japanese creative minds. The innovative toy is called simple Nintendo Labo and is something like the further development of the popular science kits that have been appearing on the market in ever new forms since the 1970s.

It is hardly surprising that Nintendo of all people implemented the idea: the Nintendo Switch offers the perfect basis for such educational games. What Nintendo Labo is and what our first impression is you can find out in the following article.


The idea behind Nintendo Labo

On April 27, 2018, the Japanese console manufacturer is launching a completely new product line that should be unique, at least in the console sector: Nintendo Labo. In this new way of playing, gamers combine different cardboard models and the “building blocks” of the Nintendo Switch. The result is interactive play options such as robot controls, motorcycles or fishing rods. What adult gamers will hardly lure out from behind the stove is an enormously immersive game idea, especially for children, which enables them to immerse themselves in virtual worlds in a new way. Basically the cardboard models of Nintendo Labo nothing more than embed the Joy-Cons or the mobile console in an unusual haptic frame. Due to the concept, this appeals more to young players who use their imagination to reinforce the fusion between digital content and real control mechanics. Where adults can overwhelm just shaking the Joy-Cons, children begin to enter highly interactive worlds.   

Despite the good child-friendly game idea, the shock is still deep. The announcement of a “brand new, interactive Nintendo Switch experience” kept us going until 23pm. In our minds we have presented us with many innovations that players have been waiting for a long time to be released: a completely new experience in the world of Animal Crossing, a serving of augmented reality mixed with Pokemon for the Nintendo Switch, a dirty version of Wario Land, in which you shake and not stir - it doesn't matter, the main thing is that a well-known franchise is named!

And then Nintendo announces a cardboard construction kit instead of augmented reality or VR gadgets! Serious?!

Do it with cardboard: Nintendo Labo - handicrafts, games and discoveries with Nintendo Switch

After the first disappointment was over, it was about getting the idea behind Nintendo Labo to grasp - and to appreciate accordingly. What the Japanese have presented is actually quite innovative and enriching for the console market on closer inspection. Instead of their children Street Fighter brutally hitting opponents, parents in particular have completely new options for parking their children in front of the television. Appears on April 27th Nintendo Labo in two versions: a multi-set with the five different Toy-Con models piano, house, motorcycle, fishing rod and RC car as well as the Robo-Set, which only contains one robot model. As usual, the appropriate software is included with the sets on a game card for the Nintendo Switch. In terms of price, the sets will likely be in the range between 50 and 80 euros. The non-binding official prices for Nintendo Labo are 69,99 euros (Multi-set*) or 79,99 euros (Robo set*) and 14,99 euros for the Design package* containing various stickers. The sets can now also be pre-ordered via Amazon.

After all, if you understand the concept behind the handicrafts, you can get creative yourself and come up with your own models in order to discover completely new possibilities for interaction.

Who the idea behind Nintendo Labo want to understand even better, the best thing to do is to watch the official announcement trailer. 

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Classic educational games repackaged

What is innovative and unique for the console market is something that game-loving adults already know in a similar way from their own childhood. Nintendo Labo is a modern variant of the classic experiment kit, which the KOSMOS publishing house, among others, has had in its product range since time immemorial. Instead of tinkering together a little plastic and a few wires to make a radio, as in the 70s, trendy children simply make their creations out of cardboard and combine the shapes with the latest game electronics. Parents and legal guardians have to decide what is ultimately better. The mere fact that the choice of game systems is increasing is wonderful.

At least in terms of price, the toys are at a similarly high level. Who one Nintendo Switch already owns currently pays up to 80 euros depending on the Toy-Con-Set. A comparable kit from KOSMOS also costs 74,99 euros (cf. Robot control*), but contains considerably more material. In order to Nintendo Labo To be successful, Nintendo must manage to convince the community that they are buying more than just a pile of cardboard for 70 euros. 

After all, offers Nintendo Labo with the technology of the innovative Joy-Cons creative players the perfect basis for electronic cardboard experiments. The specialty lies in the combination of simplicity (Toy-Cons) and complexity (Joy-Cons). In the end, it will be interesting to see which idea Nintendo's design department will implement on its own.   

One thing is already certain: Nintendo Labo is relatively independent of the target group, even if the basic idea is more likely to appeal to children. Anyone who likes to spend their time with interactive toys will benefit personally from the game concept. 

The official press release from January 17, 2018 reads flowery:

With Nintendo Labo, Nintendo is launching a completely new product line on April 27th. It combines interactive handicraft and play experiences and appeals to both creativity and the instinct to play. Together with the Nintendo Switch TV console, the Nintendo Labo sets provide handicraft material, technology and software for creative own creations. These open up completely new ways to play - and new ways of turning ideas into reality with the help of Nintendo Switch technology. The Nintendo Labo trailer on YouTube gives you a first look at the new product line.

Nintendo has always surprised people with innovative entertainment and gaming experiences throughout its history. Just under a year ago, the company released Nintendo Switch, the world's first mobile TV console. With more than 600.000 consoles, it has sold better in Germany than any other Nintendo TV console in the comparable period - and has therefore also overtaken Wii.

In line with the company's philosophy, Nintendo Labo wants to put a smile on people's faces. Each kit allows players of all generations to transform modular cardboard kits into interactive creations, the so-called Toy-Con. The Toy-Con were specially developed for interaction with Nintendo Switch and its controllers, the Joy-Con. Whether it's a piano, a motorcycle or a robot - to name just three - every Toy-Con comes to life in its own unique way when the players connect it to Nintendo Switch.

An example: With the Toy-Con piano, players can build a piano with 13 keys. As soon as the Nintendo Switch and the right Joy-Con have been inserted, you can play music to your heart's content. Because the infrared camera built into the right Joy-Con registers which piano keys you hit while playing. The loudspeakers of the console then, controlled by the associated software, reproduce the sound associated with the respective key. Of course, budding musicians can also experiment with their own creations.

Another option is to control your own motorcycle. To do this, you tinker with a functioning handlebar, in whose handles the Joy-Con and in the middle part Nintendo Switch are used. Then you simply press the ignition button, turn the right Joy-Con to accelerate - and you can experience an adventurous motorcycle tour on the Nintendo Switch screen.

"Our goal is to put a smile on everyone's face when they come into contact with Nintendo," says Satoru Shibata, President of Nintendo of Europe. “Nintendo Labo invites everyone who is creative and playful to tinker, play and discover in countless new ways with Nintendo Switch. I hope many people will enjoy trying out the kits with the whole family - with a big smile on their face. "
Tinkering and discovering with Nintendo Labo is just as much fun as playing. Every Toy-Con comes up with exciting challenges and different levels of difficulty that make it a unique experience. It's especially fun when you share the Toy-Con and Nintendo Labo experience with friends or family members. Creative spirits can also give their Toy-Con an individual touch by painting them with colored pencils or decorating them with stickers. The imagination knows no limits. There will also be a design pack from Nintendo, which will also be released on April 27th. It contains funny stencils, stickers and colored adhesive tapes, with which every Toy-Con can be embellished according to taste.
Nintendo Labo will be released across Europe on April 27th with two sets: the Multi-Set and the Robot-Set. Both contain everything needed to bring the corresponding Toy-Con to life - including the cut-out sheets and the necessary Nintendo Switch software.

The multi-set
With the multi-set you can create many completely different Toy-Cons: the Toy-Con-RC-Car, the Toy-Con-Angel, the Toy-Con-House, the Toy-Con-Motorcycle and the Toy-Con -Piano.

Toy-Con RC Car: The players build the right and left Joy-Con into the model car and then steer it using the touchscreen of their Nintendo Switch console. The Joy-Con's HD vibration function generates vibrations that move the car in the desired direction. The set contains handicraft sheets for two RC cars.

Toy-Con-Angel: It has a crank in which a Joy-Con is integrated. It is connected by a cord to a frame, which in turn contains the Nintendo Switch. There are numerous exotic fish to be caught that appear on the console screen. To do this, the players cast out the fishing rod and lower the line with the hook. As soon as the vibration of the Joy-Con signals that a fish has bitten, you need to quickly pull the rod up and turn the crank to pull the prey out of the water.

Toy-Con-House: By inserting differently shaped blocks into openings on the sides or in the floor of the house, you can interact with its residents. You can feed the cute creature that shows up on the Nintendo Switch screen, for example, or invite them to mini-games. All blocks trigger different actions. They are recognized by the infrared camera of the right Joy-Con, which is located on the roof of the house.

Toy-Con motorcycle: You insert a Joy-Con into each handle of a handlebar and use it to control the motorcycle on the console screen. You can start the motorcycle with the ignition button, accelerate with the right grip and steer simply by shifting your weight or moving the handlebars left and right like on a real motorcycle.

Toy-Con piano: After the players have assembled a beautiful piano and inserted their Nintendo Switch console and Joy-Con into it, they can hit the 13 keys to their hearts' content. You even have the option of installing rotary controls with which you can elicit new sound effects and tones from your instrument.

The robo set
Toy-Con robot: The players make the shell of a robot and take control of it by inserting the left and right Joy-Con in the designated places on its backpack and visor. As soon as the Nintendo Switch and the associated software are plugged into the docking station, the robot appears on the TV screen. A variety of different gameplay experiences are now available to players. In robot mode, for example, they can dismantle buildings and UFOs within the game.

At the same time, Nintendo has announced a workshop at which parents, children and media representatives can try out the game idea before it is released. According to current information, the events will only take place in Hamburg. In addition, participants bear the costs for accommodation and travel themselves. 

If you come from the Hamburg region or are not afraid of the costs, you can register for the workshop event until February 04th, 2018 sign in and with a little luck take part. 

Pro tip: keep your pizza boxes

Indeed Nintendo Labo is one of the high-priced toys, like many titles from Nintendo. Players who have been annoyed about the equivalent of titles like 1-2 Switch, for example, will also join Nintendo Labo hardly happy. 

A rumor leaked from France: Based on information from the IGN France news network, Nintendo wanted to make the handicraft templates of the individual Toy-Cons available to all users so that the models could also be recreated with their own material. This information has been found to be incorrect. As confirmed by Nintendo Australia, there are currently no plans to provide the samples to players free of charge. Of course, you can use the already cut sheets as a pattern - that is, in principle, use them several times. Interested parties should start hoarding their shipping and pizza boxes now in order to create a fishing rod that smells of salami and cheese, with which you can then catch very special types of fish.

Do it with cardboard: Nintendo Labo - handicrafts, games and discoveries with Nintendo Switch

In the end, there would have been a catch anyway: you still need the associated software to play.  

Nintendo Labo opens up completely new possibilities for in-house developers and third-party providers to inspire customers - but only if the new concept is also well received by fans. With the cut-off date of April 27, 2018, a kind of pilot phase is running for Nintendo, which will be decisive for the long-term further development of the product line. According to a TIME Magazine interview with Reggie Fils-Aime, CEO of Nintendo of America, Nintendo is currently making no further announcements regarding the future of Nintendo Labo want to publish. As innovative and courageous as the product line was launched, success seems uncertain, even for Nintendo. So let's be surprised.

What do you think about the idea? Would you Nintendo Labo buy for you or your children? Which model is your favorite?

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