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Nintendo Labo

Nintendo Labo is a completely insane idea from Nintendo, blending cardboard folding with programmable gaming accessories. It comes in two versions: a $70 Variety Kit, and a $80 Robot Kit.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Nintendo Labo

Inside, Labo is almost all cardboard sheets, with a few extras and a physical game card in a box.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Nintendo Labo

There's also some string, plastic grommets, reflective stickers, rubber bands and foam-backed stickers. They'll all be used.

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Nintendo Labo

When Labo is assembled, it can become crazy things like a robot backpack (the only thing you'll make in the Robot Kit), a cardboard piano or a weird toy cardboard house (part of the Variety Kit).

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Nintendo Labo

Curious about the Robot Kit? This is me in the backpack.

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Nintendo Labo

It barely fit on my big grown-up shoulders, but there are adjustable straps.

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Nintendo Labo

The Robot Kit turns your body into a game controller for a bunch of little game modes, like a home version of Pacific Rim.

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Nintendo Labo

My punches become robot punches. My stomps becomes robot stomps.

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Nintendo Labo

Everything is controlled by cords connecting to the backpack. Oddly, it really works.

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Nintendo Labo

And it's tiring. There's even a calorie estimator based on weight.

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Nintendo Labo

There aren't a ton of game modes in the Robot Kit, but there's a timed destroy-everything mode that tallies points, and a series of individual challenges that can be unlocked. Plus, a two-player vs. mode if you have a friend who also bought one of these eighty-dollar things.

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Nintendo Labo

The head visor isn't just absurd: It actually does something.

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Nintendo Labo

Flipping the visor up puts the game in third-person mode. Flipped down, it's a first-person view. An inserted Joy-Con controller recognizes head movement and visor motion.

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Nintendo Labo

You'll need to adjust the straps and pulleys for your arm length.

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Nintendo Labo

Same goes for the cardboard foot straps.

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Nintendo Labo

It's not always flattering to be a middle-aged cardboard robot.

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Nintendo Labo

But I loved it.

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Nintendo Labo

Taking off the gear was sometimes challenging. Don't bend anything!

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Nintendo Labo

This kit took me over five hours to make.

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Nintendo Labo

Robot Kit is best when the Switch is connected to a TV. To control things like menus, use the Joy-Con on your head.

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Nintendo Labo

The hand grips are just rolled-up tubes of cardboard. Actually, everything is cardboard.

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Nintendo Labo

The cords can be wrapped up to shorten how far they extend, or unraveled.

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Nintendo Labo

The backpack's straps are a little tight for me. Pretty amazing it's all cardboard, except for some fabric straps and plastic grommets.

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Nintendo Labo

What's inside? It's mostly hollow, with a few weighted blocks that rise and fall as you pull your hands and feet.

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Nintendo Labo

The blocks have reflective stickers that the IR camera on the Joy-Con can read and turn into game motion.

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Nintendo Labo

The Joy-Con sticks out of the backpack's back.

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Nintendo Labo

You'll need to find a place to store all this stuff (good luck).

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Nintendo Labo

The Variety Kit has five things you can make, plus a handful of other surprises. One project is House, a weird little house-thing toy.

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Nintendo Labo

In it, a little cute digital creature lives.

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Nintendo Labo

You can insert various buttons and blocks to make things happen in the house.

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Nintendo Labo

There's a left hole, a right hole and a bottom hole. Each spot changes what happens, and objects can be combined.

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Nintendo Labo

I'm using an oven for some reason!

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Nintendo Labo

A mine cart mini-game, my son's favorite. Punching the springy button makes it jump.

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Nintendo Labo

You can collect things to feed your creature.

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Nintendo Labo

Turn the crank, make the critter run in a wheel.

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Nintendo Labo

It would be fun if Nintendo released more buttons in an update pack.

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Nintendo Labo

"Play" is the Labo mode where all the games and experiences are kept.

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Nintendo Labo

As you can see, there are more things to do than Toy-Con creations, so some cardboard things get more than one (the piano gets an aquarium and a recording studio, plus the piano app).

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Nintendo Labo

Make, Play, Discover are the three areas of Labo, and each has things to do.

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Nintendo Labo

Discover mode is set up like a series of manuals for each creation. It's full of insights, play tips, repair troubleshooting and little Easter eggs.

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Nintendo Labo

In the House part of Discover, there are parts to read up on.

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Nintendo Labo

The info is presented as a chat by cartoon avatars in Labo who explain how everything is made, and suggest ideas to explore. Keep reading, and more tips and parts unlock.

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Nintendo Labo

Deeper in Discover is Toy-Con Garage (under a manhole cover), where there are a set of pretty open programming tools. It's like IFTTT for gaming, and has other projects to explore... but it's a little hard to see on the small screen.

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Nintendo Labo

Make is where the building instructions are kept. They're like animated versions of Lego instructions married with Ikea.

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Nintendo Labo

Projects are broken down into stages (the piano took me nearly three hours).

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Nintendo Labo

Cardboard sheets are clearly identified...

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Nintendo Labo

...and folding instructions are animated and clear. You can rewind and fast forward, or spin the models around and zoom in, which is really helpful.

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Nintendo Labo

It made me confident enough to handle all the projects, but some parts are too complicated for young kids (I think, but I may be wrong: I built with my 9-year-old and it was great).

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Nintendo Labo

Just keep in mind, building will take you hours (and hours).

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Nintendo Labo

Speaking of the piano, it's one of the coolest parts of the Labo Variety Kit. The keys all work nicely, but that's not all.

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Nintendo Labo

Side buttons play popular songs to learn, and a lever changes octaves. 

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Nintendo Labo

There are also removable plugs that change the instruments and add effects. An extra Studio mode customizes the sounds even more and can record songs.

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Nintendo Labo

Inside, the piano is somewhat simple. Like the robot and house, it has reflective stickers that move and can be read by the Joy-Con's IR camera.

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Nintendo Labo

The Joy-Con sticks into the back.

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Nintendo Labo

The keys move...

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Nintendo Labo

...and the IR camera registers them. 

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Nintendo Labo

Here's the side lever, which uses a rubber band to add springiness (some parts use a few rubber bands). Stay tuned for more as we build and try more things!

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