Team Talk: First thoughts on Nintendo Labo
Team Talk is where members of the Switch Watch crew gather together to give their opinions on various different things; reveals, reviews or analysis.
The Nintendo Labo was recently announced much to the surprise of literally everyone in the world. Nintendo’s “new way to play” hit social media by storm with it’s mix of cardboard folding and game integration seemingly working together by magic. Our contributors; Lachlan, Brian and myself decided to gather our initial thoughts on Nintendo’s new toy line.
I first saw the news about Nintendo Labo after I had just woken up. It was about 10 minutes after the trailer dropped, and upon watching it myself I felt a need to write a news article about it, my initial reaction being that of surprise and bewilderment. This was big, and needed to be talked about. Being a musician, seeing a working cardboard piano you construct yourself had me floored. Their smart use of the joy-cons, simplicity of the cardboard constructs and clever use of elastic bands seems genius, but I found myself asking if it would sell.
I know this isn’t a product I will buy, nor am I it’s core demographic. My curiosity though led me to ask friends of mine who have children what their kids thought of it. Apparently they had heard them talk about nothing but the Labo ever since they watched the trailer. The excitement they have for it is incredible, so their marketing seems to be working for those who the product was intended for. The real question I have now though is whether this will be a flash in the pan. Will these cardboard peripherals be left in a cupboard to gather dust next to the many Wiimote tennis racket and gun add ons, or will children continue to embrace it?
My first encounter with Labo was initial confusion. I woke up to news sites flooded with articles on Nintendo’s whacky new way to play. I didn’t read anything, but went straight to the trailer which was just unbelievable. Seriously, where did this come from? It’s so left field and so Nintendo. The trailer was almost hypnotic. Firstly, I never knew cardboard was so dexterous, second, IS THAT A REAL PIANO? By the end my mouth was ajar, slightly confused and almost applauding at the magic that surely must be powering it.
Right from the Switch’s introduction we knew that the Joy-Cons were something of a little box of tricks, although since release that hasn’t been fully explored by Nintendo. Until now. I’m guessing Nintendo had purposely held back the announcement and demonstration of Labo and the Joy-Cons true potential until they were in the all-clear in regards to the Switch’s success, not wanting to scare away the hardcore gamer thinking they were focusing on kids. That was a good move.
Public response seems mixed so far, some already infatuated while others perplexed and ridiculing the idea. Either way it certainly caused a stir in social media circles which is always a good sign that it could be a success. Personally, while I’m excited to see how well it does and where they can take it from here, I’m not going to be jumping on the hype nor will I likely to be purchasing it. It’s just not for me. I’m not a hobbyist builder and my child is currently still in the womb, not quite old enough to put together a cardboard piano. In seven years time however, this may be right up my alley.
The only time I could see myself buying a Labo set in the immediate future is if it’s included or slightly implemented into the gameplay of bigger games. For example, if the next Legend of Zelda has a fishing mini-game that can use a smaller construction fishing rod, sure why not? The big sets however are a no-go for now. I’m happy for kids and parents alike though!
As with most people, Nintendo Labo completely caught me off guard. I got back home from work to hear people asking if I had heard about Nintendo’s “new cardboard toys”. I was flabbergasted, to say the least. Of all things, cardboard? However, upon reflecting upon this idea, I have come to realize that there is an incredible level of brilliance behind this concept.
I worked with young kids over a period of two years in a creative setting, and something I found they were absolutely fascinated with was cardboard. They always had desires to cut it apart and mold it into something special of their own creation. It got to the point where we always had at least 20 boxes set aside in the room for the kids to work with. Extrapolating that experience to this new way to play from Nintendo, I can absolutely understand why this product could be exactly what the younger market desires. It encourages creativity and allows kids to work with their hands on something which correlates directly with the games they love. Normally, a cardboard creation is just that. Kids play with them purely from the strength of their own imagination. However, Nintendo Labo gives them an opportunity to make something which has a real application. I think many kids will have a great level of pride over their Nintendo Labo accessories.
I have found myself wondering what exactly could have inspired something like Nintendo Labo. It just seems completely random and out of left field, doesn’t it? However, I think Nintendo has been very observative of social media and how people are responding to their products, and I think Nintendo Labo is a result of that. Do you all remember how last year there were reports of Japanese kids who couldn’t get one yet admired the Switch so much that they created cardboard renditions of it? There was even one posted by Ama-chan on Twitter which had removable Joycon, a Joycon grip and a dock. Looking back at those stories, it seems obvious where the idea for Nintendo Labo came from, and it leaves me optimistic for what else Nintendo will come up with in the future!