Do-it-yourself creations with Nintendo Labo
This week Nintendo did it again: they announced a new product line nobody could have expected. Nintendo Labo, coming this year to Nintendo Switch, combines the fun of do-it-yourself products with innovative new video game experiences.
Using specially designed modular sheets of cardboard, kids can build all kinds of imaginative creations. These include a 13-key Piano, an RC Car, a House, a Fishing Rod, and more. All DIY projects can interact with Nintendo Switch consoles and Joy-Con Controllers to form Toy-Con creations.
While other gaming platforms are pushing VR and 4K, it’s incredible to see Nintendo’s latest initiative is Switch + cardboard. When you explore Nintendo’s past though, Nintendo Labo is exactly the kind of family entertainment core to their DNA. Despite getting into video games in the mid-80’s, for nearly a century they made trading cards and toys. Nintendo Labo seems like the ultimate culmination of their 128-years making video games and toys.
Make, Play, and Discover
Nintendo Labo’s mission is clear: letting kids unleash their creativity through the fun of Make, Play, and Discover. Let me start by explaining the Make. Labo products will be shipping in kits, and inside you’ll find specially created sheets of cardboard. Using step-by-step directions shown to you on the Nintendo Switch screen, you’ll fold cardboard pieces into object components. Put all the components together and you’ll build a creation, like a Piano or a Motorbike.
Next it’s time to Play! Your Toy-Con creations will come to life using the power of the Nintendo Switch system. Each Toy-Con has its own game, such as a fishing simulator where you reel in fish with your cardboard Fishing Rod. The Toy-Con Piano lets you press keys and experiment with your own musical creations. The fact that all these experiences can be had using a Switch console and cardboard is pretty amazing.
Finally, Nintendo Labo is all about letting you explore the magic behind your creations. For starters, you view the step-by-step assemble instructions to really learn how they’re created. The goal is to get kids interested in seeing how the Toy-Con creations are built. Also, after the Toy-Con is built you go behind-the-scenes to see how it works. For example, the Piano Toy-Con uses the Joy-Con’s infrared camera to detect what keys are being pressed. Using the Toy-Con software your kid will come to learn the inner workings of how these creations work. Pretty cool!
Toy-Con #01 – Variety Kit
One of the things I learned right away about Nintendo Labo is the each Kit is numbered. Presumably this means there will be a series of Kits released, but we’ll have to wait and see. What I do know is Toy-Con #01 is called the Variety Kit. It will include the following five Toy-Con creations:
- RC Car Toy-Con : For this you’ll build an RC Car and then insert the Left and Right Joy-Con into it. Using touch screen controls on your Nintendo Switch console you’ll be able to control the car’s movement. Movement is actually created using the HD Rumble feature in the Joy-Con controllers. Small vibrations will move the car in your desired direction.
- Fishing Rod Toy-Con : You’ll construct a Fishing Rod with an active, rotating reel. As well, a string (which acts as the fishing line) connects the Fishing Rod to a cradle holding the Nintendo Switch. You can then cast your line and catch exotic fish swimming on your Nintendo Switch screen. A vibration in the reel means you’ve caught a fish, and then you tug the rod upward and crank the reel to complete the catch.
- House Toy-Con : 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.
- Motorbike Toy-Con : 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.
- Piano Toy-Con : After assembling a 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.
Toy-Con #02 – Robot Kit
This next Toy-Con, numbered 02, is called the Robot Kit. It’s much more focused than the Variety Kit, offering one large, elaborate robot Toy-Con creation. You’ll build an entire wearable Robot suit and insert the Left and Right Joy-Con into the designated spots. One slots into the backpack, while the other the wearable visor. You can then control the Robot, which is shown on your TV when the Nintendo Switch is docked. A variety of fun gameplay experiences are available, including Robot mode where you destroy buildings and UFOs. This is probably the closest your child will get to pretending like they’re a super-powered Transformer!
Customize your Toy-Con creations
Another interesting aspect of Toy-Con projects is the incentive to customize as you build. The majority of cardboard is a standard, boring brown colour, and Nintendo hopes kids will get creative. You can paint your Toy-Con, use pencil crayons or markers, or add stickers as examples.
To reinforce this customization concept, it appears that Nintendo is also going to be selling a Customization Set. Inside the box are handy customization tools like stencil sheets, sticker sheets, and tape rolls. Of course you can also use any arts and crafts supplies have at home, or purchase new supplies. It’s going to be really exciting to see all the Toy-Con creations kids will come up with!
So, that’s what we know so far about Nintendo Labo. There are still many questions to answer, and lots of time for Nintendo to provide answers. Stay tuned on the Plug-In Blog for the latest news on Nintendo Labo!