Nintendo Labo

Nintendo Labo is a fun and innovative combination of building and gaming. But more importantly, it’s a concept that’s transforming the way we think about video game consoles and what accurately defines a video game.Nintendo’s new take on video games, Labo, starts with its first two kits for the Nintendo Switch on Friday. Which are kind of like a mix of Lego building, motion-controlled fun, and good old-fashioned gaming? Instead of plastic bricks, Labo uses cardboard cutouts that you fold and fit together into predetermined designs, called Toy-Cons. Like a fishing pole, a piano, or a visor and backpack with attachments that make you look like a robot.

Toy-Con

Each Toy-Con interacts with the Nintendo Switch in one form another. some of them using the Joy-Con controllers to sense different motions and actions which correlate to on-screen actions. Others using the Joy-Con’s HD rumble feature to vibrate the cardboard Toy-Cons and make them move around, all controlled with the Switch’s touchscreen.

Instead of instruction booklets, each Toy-Con kit comes with a Switch game cartridge that includes video instructions for building the Toy-Cons as well as the games to play them with.

Labo combines the creation of motion control that the Nintendo Wii made so famous in the mid-2000s with new ways to interpret it into gameplay. Like the Wii made us look at new ways to use video game controllers. Labo is getting us look at new ways to use consoles.

In the various iterations of Labo, the console and controllers convert a fishing pole and porthole into the ocean. A set of motorcycle handlebars and a console to see wherever you’re going, a remote-controlled car and a touchscreen to control it.

The Nintendo Switch console itself is integral to the gameplay. Turning what would otherwise be pretty basic games into more immersive experiences.

The Perfect Showcase

The robot Toy-Con is the perfect showcase as whereby the Nintendo Switch works as a whole and illustrates just how much it can do. Especially when combined with Labo. It consists of six major parts. A visor with a Joy-Con in it to track your head moves, two hand grips on strings, two-foot straps on lines, and one large backpack where all of the series lead.

Stuck into the back of the pack is the right Joy-Con. Which as a sensor pointing inside the bag to read your movement. How does it understand your progress? The strings from your limb attachments lead to cardboard bricks with light bands on them. So while you move to take a step or deliver a punch, the blocks jump up and down. The Joy-Con reads that movement and turns those into on-screen action. That action is a robot you control with your whole body that mostly just punches things until they break or blow up, along with a couple of other bite-sized ways to play around.

And that leads to 1 of the only downsides of Nintendo Labo: the games themselves. While it’s fun to make the Toy-Cons and see how the creations come together. The gameplay that they facilitate can get pretty dry pretty quickly.

The fishing game is fun, although there are only about ten different types of fish that you can catch. Driving around with the motorcycle Toy-Con is cool at first, twisting the handlebar to control your speed and leaning with the handlebars to control where you go. But it’s a pretty barebones experience.

 

Not to mention you seem goofy as hell with the whole get-up on

But beyond the primary games is the Toy-Con Garage. Which enables you to create your own experiences with some necessary coding. The Garage runs with some of the Toy-Cons you have already built as well as extra pieces you can play around among the come included in the box.

The Garage adds a slight bit extra to every Toy-Con. The freedom it gives you to mess around including your console and Toy-Cons performs the Labo experience feel a bit more worth it.

What will be exciting to watch is how Nintendo iterates on Labo. These are only the first two kits.Nintendo has hinted at more to come. While I can’t see the building processes getting too many more interesting than they previously are, the games themselves become a lot of room to grow.

Nintendo can focus a bit more on making fun games that people will need to play for more than a few hours. Or add some healthy competition in beyond to spice things up. Which is what made the similarly first Wii Sports game so famous.

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