Technology

Nintendo’s Labo playset slaps the Switch into build-your-own cardboard toys

Enlarge/ Labo looks like a trip, Nintendo.Nintendo

Nintendo has announced a new build-your-own-accessories line for the Switch console, dubbed Nintendo Labo. It will arrive on April 20 in the United States and Japan and April 27 in Europe.

Labo's two playsets, the $69.99 Variety Kit and the $79.99 Robot Kit, will come with marked cardboard sheets that must be punched and folded by players, along with connecting string, reflective stickers (for controller-sensing purposes), and other accessories. The foldable parts resemble everything from pianos to fishing rods, along with a full-body robot outfit. They accept both the Switch console and its Joy-Con controllers in various slots.

  • Nintendo Labo will combine the Switch console, its Joy-Con controllers, and buildable cardboard sets.
  • The debut video shows how to put the piano set together. Start with individual, foldable cardboard pieces.
  • Getting closer.
  • It's missing something.
  • Oh, right. The Switch.
  • There's also a slot for a Joy-Con to be inserted, visible here on the left.
  • Many other modes were shown, including this insane fishing-rod rig. Take that, Sega Bass Fishing!
  • Work a foot pedal with a Joy-Con inserted.
  • Make this cardboard person walk solely by controlling the Joy-Con's rumbling.
  • More vibration-based controls.
  • Put it together.
  • The Robot Kit looks quite large.
  • That's an intense backpack.

Nintendo has a name for the resulting toys that players create by combining cardboard and hardware: Toy-Cons. (Get it?) Other Toy-Con possibilities include a motorcycle steering mechanism, RC cars, an interactive Toy-Con house (with a pet inside that you'll take care of), and a series of "make the Joy-Cons vibrate to move cardboard characters around" figures. Each Toy-Con will utilize various sensing mechanisms of the Switch and Joy-Cons. For example, the 13-key piano will utilize the right Joy-Con's infrared camera to identify when you press its piano keys or manipulate any of the "knobs" you assemble and add to the piano.

The Robot Kit looks decidedly more complex, complete with a series of strings and levers, and it's designed to be worn like a backpack along with a helmet and foot attachments. (Perhaps this full-body rig is what Nintendo had in mind when the company recently said it wasn't all that interested in virtual-reality development.)

Each playset will come with compatible software as well, though exactly how many modes will come with each kit is currently unclear. In the Robot Kit's case, that software largely resembles a long-teased "Project Giant Robot" game that Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto had previously talked up for an eventual launch on the Wii U. That game appears to now have new life as part of the Nintendo Labo series.

  • Robot Kit.
  • Variety Kit.
  • If you're going to pay Nintendo $10 for a sticker pack, it may as well be as full of fan service as this box appears to look.
  • A better look at how the cardboard sets look before being disassembled.
  • Put it together with your parents…
  • …but also designed for kids to be able to assemble.
  • Piano time.

An additional "Customization Kit" will be offered by Nintendo, complete with stickers, stencils, and colored tape, for $9.99. You can also, of course, grab your own markers and paints to customize your cardboard parts as you see fit.

Nintendo offered fans roughly 12 hours of advance notice before this announcement. The company claimed that it was about to unveil "a new interactive experience for Nintendo Switch that's specially crafted for kids and those who are kids-at-heart." This was preceded a day earlier by a Ubisoft staffer's claim that Nintendo's Wednesday would "explode the Internet." Nintendo of Japan has announced "Labo Camp," a series of public preview events around the time of Labo's launch in Tokyo and Osaka, while Nintendo of America will host similar events in San Francisco and New York.

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