Nintendo has a long-standing history of thinking a little bit outside the box, for better or worse. Now, Nintendo is giving you a box and letting you take your gaming to new areas of imagination with Nintendo Labo. It almost seems like a prank, but Nintendo’s next product is cardboard.
At first glance, it appears to simply be cardboard with cutouts to make different objects, and that’s exactly what it is. But because this is Nintendo, there is a bit more to the product than there appears to be at first. These cardboard construction products are designed to be interactive with the Switch in mind, opening the door for some of the most uniquely designed gaming accessories seen to date due to its balance between simplicity and complexity by just using cardboard and the Switch.
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) January 17, 2018
Nintendo Labo is designed and will be marketed as a creative tool for younger audiences, which makes sense. It not only inspires younger consumers to use their imagination while being constructive and, I imagine, show the ability to follow instructions in building their various contraptions. Some will be nothing more than additions to your collection of controller accessories you probably already have enough of from the days of the Nintendo Wii, but some could make for some educational opportunities to understand how the mechanics of various contraptions work.
Take the robot pack, for example.
What looks to be one of the more complex builds in the early Nintendo Labo product line (there are two construction kits scheduled for the launch, with one accessory pack also available, but if this takes off there will most certainly be more cardboard products made available down the line) is the Roboto Kit. As you can see in the photo above, courtesy of Nintendo, you are suited up with a robot pack with straps around your feet that seem to dictate the movement in a robot game.
This could lead Nintendo to the release the long-awaited robot fighting game brainstormed by Shigeru Miyamoto that was supposed to land on the WiiU. With the Switch becoming the perfect opportunity to revive some games largely lost on the WiiU (the Switch has already seen updated versions of Mario Kart 8 and will be getting updated versions of Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze and Hyrule Warriors later this year, for example), this may be the perfect situation for Miyamoto’s original concept for Project Giant Robot, which had its plug pulled a year ago as the company was preparing for the launch of the Switch.
But the game is just one thing. This product line has the chance to serve as an educational resource as well, especially the robot kit. Schools would be wise to jump on the opportunity to bring this engineering and mechanical project into the classroom where appropriate, because it may offer a chance to teach about the dynamics of a machine utilizing this kind of movement and physics. Basically, what Nintendo has here is their version of the educational LEGO systems LEGO has had in schools for decades.
This isn’t your basic edutainment software like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? or Mario is Missing. Instead, Nintendo has the hoeps of bringing something that is creative and informative as much as it is entertaining. For the widespread gaming market, this may be nothing more than a gimmicky product, but if the idea is to have a bigger impact on young creative minds, they may have something going here. Plus, it will sell more Switch consoles and also should turn a massive profit on packs of cardboard.
Me, using my future Nintendo Labo. pic.twitter.com/MpBtYnfgFw
— ?Fáyer? (@fire_tony) January 17, 2018
Scheduled to hit stores on April 20, the Nintendo Labo variety kit is slated to cost $69.99 and the robot kit is marked at $79.99. Those packs do come with the software that includes the instructions and software to interact with the final product once it is constructed, but here’s hoping Nintendo will also have ways to purchase additional cardboard on its own at a cheaper rate, because no matter how sturdy this cardboard is, there will be parents in need of replacing broken cardboard at some point in time.
The Nintendo Labo may turn out to be more profitable as far as percentages are concerned than the amiibo product line. But just wait, because at some point Nintendo will cross amiibo functionality into the Nintendo Labo, and we may even get a Nintendo Labo amiibo figure.
Evolution of gaming:
— Ｓａｗｙｅｒ (@Sawyer_DAA) January 17, 2018
As Nintendo always seems to do, they are going against the grain in the gaming industry and hoping for the best. Virtual reality may still be an aspect of the gaming industry the major companies are working on improving, but Nintendo remains reluctant to get back into the world of VR decades after the failure of the Virtual Boy.
Google’s attempted something similar, with their Google Cardboard concept. It didn’t go well, but maybe Nintendo can succeed by narrowing their market focus. There are some indications suggesting the Switch is equipped to handle VR if that time ever does come, but in the meantime, Nintendo will hope that using your creativity and imagination with their cardboard will satisfy.