There was a time when Nintendo was almost synonymous with needless accessories: plastic tennis rackets, baseball bats and wheels that gave the company's Wii controllers a little more shape. Now it seems Nintendo's at it again, but this time it's not creating pointless accessories. It's building a-powered DIY cardboard creativity kit.
It's called Nintendo Labo, and not only does it look fun, but kind of educational, too.
At a glance, Nintendo Labo is a pair of Switch games, each with its own DIY cardboard construction kit -- separated into a $70 "variety kit" and an $80 "Robot Kit." Pop out the cut-outs in the variety pack, for instance, and you can build a toy fishing pole, drivable cardboard RC cars, a motorbike mount for the console's Joy-Con controllers or even a mini, but completely functional, 13-key piano.
The robot kit, on the other hand, promises to let kids build a wearable exoskeleton that allows them to control an in-game robot with their own body.
Alone, all that sounds pretty fun, but if you take a moment to think about how these cardboard kits are enabling these experiences, it's also pretty fascinating. Wondering how a paper craft piano can play notes only using one of Nintendo's Joy-Con controllers? It's not fumbling around with the controller's "HD Rumble," it's using the right Joy-Con's IR camera to read the internal workings of the keyboard and translating those notes to the Switch's console component.
It's a clever use of one of the console's lesser-used features, and it makes you wonder what else can be done with Nintendo's Joy-Con controllers. Fortunately, Nintendo seems interested in showing us. In addition to offering the experiences that come with the kit, Nintendo's setting up "Nintendo Labo Studio" events in select cities to help kids "create new ways to play" with their Nintendo Switch and Labo.
Want to build a cardboard robot? Apparently you can. Just tape a Joy-Con back to the back of a cardboard paper doll, and watch the controller make it dance.
Weird. But kind of awesome.
The two Nintendo Labs games both launch on April 20, but families in New York City and San Francisco can check the semi-educational paper craft game out early. Nintendo's hosting its New York City Labo Studio event on February 2-3, and another in San Francisco on March 2-4. Parents with kids aged 6 to 12 can sign up on the company's website.
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