So … a lot … wrinkles …
Nintendo Labo packed a lot of stuff in his box. At first I thought I would sit down with my son today and create some cardboard creations, play the games and then write this review. After making our first major Toy-Con, as Nintendo called these projects, I was quickly disappointed with this performance. The majority of Toy-Con takes more than 90 minutes depending on the game and the piano can take more than two and a half hours.
That being said, the basics of Labo can be recorded in a few minutes, and I was able to mess around with the Motorcycle and RC Car Toy Conss. In the face of this, I'm not quite ready to make a final decision on Labo but here's enough to say something about exactly what Nintendo did here. Nintendo Labo ̵
Published by April 20, 2018 MSRP: $ 69.99
Labo is the most Nintendo Nintendo has ever made since then, well, the switch. It's an idea that probably comes only from Nintendo, and definitely will only produce and release Nintendo. Labo comes with the "game" (duh), a bundle of cardboard boxes with toy parts punched into it, some rubber bands and a few other Doodads to help make your creations. There are five of these creations: RC Car, Motorcycle, House, Piano and Fishing Rod. The basics of making it are pretty obvious: you lay out the cardboard, fold, plug the Joy-Con – and sometimes the switch itself – and you go to the races (literally, when you've built the bike). 19659003] Labo is for children over the age of six, and it's pretty obvious. My son is three years old, so much of the folding and some of the gameplay was a bit beyond him. It's not overly complicated in what I've built so far, but there are definitely some precise wrinkles that require a lighter touch. Still, at three o'clock, my son was fascinated by the crease he could make and by the fact that something we were doing could control things on screen. Watching him realize that the motorcycle handles we actually built a motorcycle built on the screen was cool. Hell, I thought it was damn cool and I'm a grown man. Something you build vibrates like a motorcycle, maneuvering like one and even has a working gas pedal, brake, horn and ignition is just … great.
The construction itself is quite sturdy but it is still cardboard. The box is thinner than I thought, but also stronger than it looks. It is definitely strong enough to last a while, even with children, which was a recurring concern when Labo was announced. My son managed to smash a piece when I looked away for two seconds (because the children do), and he resisted his rather energetic attempts to "drive" the bike into the ground. However, it is by no means invincible; if I'm not careful, I might accidentally fold away where I should not. That could only be me, careless more than a statement about the strength of the cardboard.
What's clear is the attention to detail and the care Nintendo puts into this product. Every aspect seems to be thought through to the fifth degree, from what I've experienced so far. For example, the design of the motorcycle handlebar allows you to open the lower part, which makes plugging in the Joy-Con a breeze, even with large fingers. It's little things like these that highlight the construction aspect of Labo not to mention the fact that everything works (so far) simply.
As a dad – and a person shopping at IKEA – I've put together a lot of things that need to get parts into other parts, and nothing is more annoying than when something that's supposed to fit does not fit. This does not seem to happen at Labo . Each fold and tab fits exactly as it should, and it's really satisfying to come through a complicated folding series to make your Toy-Con exactly as it should.
It is also incredibly easy to follow the instructions. After inserting the cassette, there is a short tutorial that will guide you through making a joy-cone holder, and then you can get started. You can jump into any project, build and then play with your new invention. The instructions are presented in a video format that turns the switch into a tablet with the instructions, and I truly hope this is the future of all instructions. I wish you could jump to specific parts of the video more easily, but you can at least fast forward to increase the tempo. You can rotate to get the right angle, rewind to see a movement just right, and there's even optional background music that I myself folded in time. While you rarely need these functions while building, I would have liked to put together the cabinets in my kitchen.
The software is divided into three parts: build, play, discover. Build is basically your building instructions, Play the games you use with your Toy-Con, and Discover for instructions and other details. The coolest part for kids to discover is that it's not just basic instructions. Through three lively characters, kids can get ideas for playing with their new Toy-Con, develop add-on items that extend the capabilities of the original build, and even learn the basic mechanisms and programming their new toys do do. It's much more detailed than I thought, and really opens up the educational and imaginative aspects of the game.
And these things are a lot more resourceful than I thought. Both the RC Car and the bike have more than you think. For example, the RC Car can use the Joy-Con's infrared camera to control itself. You just set up these little signs for the car and it will vibrate from one to the other. Again, a small detail that Nintendo did not have to insert, but that plays wonderfully in the abundance of random functions of the switch.
Another example of this is the design of their own motorcycle racetracks. While the racing game for the Motorcycle Toy Con is simply super basic Mario Kart it's funny enough, and a cool way to show off the toy, but there's also track-making. You do it in an incredibly uncomfortable but totally amazing way. Instead of building a course piece by piece, you push the Joy-Con into a superfluous cardboard motorcycle that needs a few wrinkles.
Then you literally drive it around. Turn left and your track goes to the left. Lift it and you have a hill. My son has just created a racetrack by running around on motorcycle sounds. You can also design off-road courses … by pointing the infrared camera at things and assigning them to the landscape. Is it a terribly uncomfortable way to take a course? Yes. Is it funny like hell? Also yes.
It's the enhanced functionality and creativity that really inspires me on the rest of Labo . Fishing sounds funny, but now I wonder what other cool things I can do with the rod. The house looked like the least interesting toy con when I first started, but it has all these extra things that I die to find out what they are doing. There's a lot more to discover with Labo and I wish I could slow it down a bit.
If you build these toys back-to-back at great speed, it does not look like what it's made for. It's made for creativity, independent thinking, and a million other things you never thought a video game console could do. My only concern is where will I keep all this box, and if the games will continue to hold the interest of me and my son, beyond the initial effects of how cool it is to do such a thing. [This review in progress is based on a retail version of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
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Nintendo Labo – Variety Kit reviewed by Matthew Razak