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Nintendo Labo's many cardboard forms

Cardboard + games + programming + Nintendo Switch = crazy fun. Here's our first hands-on.

Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott Stein
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Scott Stein
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Nintendo Labo consists of cardboard foldable papercraft construction projects, plus software on the Switch that tells you what to do and plays games with what you've built. I got to try out Nintendo Labo with my kid in New York in advance of its release.

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This is me, wearing a cardboard robot suit. This is Nintendo Labo, arriving in April: and it's crazy.

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The $80 Robot Kit is one of two packages you'll be able to buy. It uses your Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers and turns them into a body-controlled robot backpack body suit.

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Punches become robot punches. Kicks and steps become robot kicks and steps. A head visor activates a first-person POV mode in-game, too.

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The robot backpack works when crouching (you turn into a robot car) or standing (you become a mech robot). Pulleys activate thumping sounds in the backpack.

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The cardboard creations, called Toy-Cons, use the Joy-Con controllers to power wild ideas. This House turns the Switch into a weird interactive dollhouse.

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Pop in cardboard knobs and buttons, and you can make crazy things happen in your tiny home (I flooded mine with water).

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The fishing kit, one of five in the $70 Nintendo Labo Variety Kit, makes a fishing rod that attaches to the Switch and turns into an awesome working fishing game.

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Making the fishing rod ended up being over an hour of work, and we didn't even finish.

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The Labo Piano is a real working keyboard. The keys trigger musical notes, or can be other sounds when cardboard plugs are popped in.

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A Motorbike project creates working handlebars that control an Excitebike-type game. The handlebar rotates to accelerate, and it vibrates realistically (seat not included).

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RC Cars, another project in the Variety Kit, involves making race-car housings for the Joy-Con controllers (they're more like cardboard bugs).

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One Switch can control two sets of buzzing RC cars if you have four Joy-Cons.

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The Robot Kit only has the robot backpack and game, but it's a really big construction project.

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Some bedazzled and customized buzzing RC car things Nintendo showed off to indicate how much you're free to color or design your cardboard.

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A few more super-customized Labo cardboard designs from Nintendo. There's going to be a lot of Instagram sharing of Nintendo cardboard.

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The Labo step-by-step instructions show 3D models of what you're supposed to fold, and it's easy to use.

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A lot of pieces to manage! Luckily, the app makes sense of them.

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I felt great satisfaction making a cardboard thing to put Joy-Cons in (seriously, though, it was satisfying!).

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Each project's instructions can be fast-forwarded or rewound as needed, and models can be zoomed in or spun around.

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My son and I stare at the instructions to plan our next move. If you've made Lego, you'll feel right at home: it's excellently designed.

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Building things is half the fun of Nintendo Labo.

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