Nintendo Labo: A Great Meeting Between Ikea and Lego
The most incredible design, very well-thought-out instructions, software and Lab games are fun and offer a lot of possibilities, some of which are still unexploited.
The Nintendo Labo range is a little Ikea that meets Lego. A unique and super fun option for the Switch that will unleash the creativity of children.
Labo is perhaps the most curious video game concept ever imagined by Nintendo. Recall that the brand is at the origin of other quirky ideas like the Virtual Boy (1995) who made a flop or the Wii which met a mega success.
Combining cardboard, great designs and a little programming, Nintendo Labo can turn the Switch console into a fishing rod, a motorcycle, a piano or a robot.
After having spent long pleasant hours assembling and then playing with these cardboard accessories, one has the feeling of having to deal with a scientific school project combined with a video game that would be the result of a union between Ikea and Lego. It’s a brilliant innovation, where travel is as important as the destination.
Unpack Cardboard Cartons
The boxes of the Multi-Kit and the Robot Kit are heavy and bulky. It looks like a little Lego Boost boxes that came out last year.
The Multi-Kit box contains 28 pieces and the Robot Kit 19 contains stickers, colored string, eyelets and plastic rings, elastic bands and straps. There is also a card on which are stored the games and programs with which you can try each kit.
If you have kids who love building games, Labo will look familiar to them. The whole cardboard concept is really bluffing. Assembly is easy thanks to an impeccable design based on perfectly adjusted bends and perforations. Some elastics and straps are sometimes necessary, but rarely.
Plan to spend a few hours building your accessories. Nintendo announces 3 to 4 hours for the Robot Kit, but we spent 5 hours there. There are 5 projects for the Multi-Kit (remote control car, fishing rod, motorcycle handlebar, piano and house) that require between 15 minutes and 3 hours. And in case of damage to the editing or playing, the card provided by Nintendo contains an application that explains how to repair a damaged part. The animated user manual is fantastic. On the Switch’s screen, you can enlarge it, fast-forward or rewind. Lego and Ikea would be well advised to use it in the future.
The secret of Labo? The infrared camera Joy-Con controller
The brilliant idea of these two kits lies in the clever use of the infrared camera housed in the joystick Joy-Con right. This sensor had only been used for the 1-2 Switch mini games. The Labo kits exploit it to its fullest extent.
Several of the accessories include a housing in which the handle is inserted halfway. The camera will read reflective stickers on which patterns correspond to playing actions. The piano keys work as well, the same for the control of the robot and the house.
Each cardboard accessory has its own app or game. The car’s remote control offers many options; the fishing rod goes with a game that we would have no problem buying separately.
The motorcycle game looks like Excitebike, with simpler circuits and challenges and a track creation mode. The Piano and the house are like creative toys. The keyboard keys of the piano are not only mobile and play real notes, but you can also change the octave and learn songs with the preprogrammed cards provided. There is even a studio mode that allows you to record and play along with other instruments.
The Robot Kit consists of sliding into the body of a mecha robot. The backpack has four cords connected to the hands and feet plus a visor that allows you to switch from a general view of the robot to a first-person view. It’s a Pacific Rim flavor with Nintendo sauce. You really have to play on a big screen rather than on the Switch which is too small to fully appreciate the feeling of immersion.
A Bit of Education And an Introduction to Programming
One of the most interesting features of Labo is Discover, a mode in which we learn how each accessory works and which we can discuss with chat agents in a chat. Discover is the third facet of Labo after Build and Play. It is in a way the back of the scene, the educational part that reveals the workings of the system with the key surprises.
We can go even further by using the Garage Toy-Con, a kind of programming tool that allows you to associate almost all the functions of the controller (buttons, shake, infrared camera, orientation) with an effect: a sound on the Switch, a vibration of the other joystick or the lighting of the screen. There are also additional projects to be able, for example, to make an electric guitar with elastics or an infrared “laser gun” that shoots a small man in cardboard.
The potential of this Garage is huge if user groups are formed and share new ideas. The only limit lies in the closed environment of the Switch and it will be up to Nintendo to make this part live by regularly adding new possibilities.
Nintendo Labo is definitely fun for young people. We did try it to 9 and 5 year olds who had fun. However, not everything is as simple and clear as with Lego. And you should also know that the insertion of Joy-Con sometimes requires some precautions or to unfold part of the box.
These are not games to use with others. In addition, the handling of accessories in cartons will probably support enough to pass between many hands. The Robot Kit offers a dual mode, but it requires that the second player is also equipped.
The Robot Kit proves to be a good way to play sports There is even a counter of calories consumed. Looks like a distant cousin of Wii Fit. Maybe Nintendo could dig this track to offer fitness games?
Personally, we would choose the Multi-Kit which costs a little less expensive and offers more different games compared to the Robot kit that seemed less extensive and maybe a little expensive for what it offers.
Once assembled, Labo accessories take up a lot of space and are not easy to store without damaging them. The easiest way is to have them on a shelf or to find large boxes.
The Robot Kit backpack is not always easy to put on and pay for an adult. You have to adjust the length of the cords for the feet and hands while being careful not to force. In the end it works, but it is not very convenient.
Labo is a really daring and awesome concept, which skillfully returns the use of the Switch. Very impressive but not necessarily everyone’s taste. The assembly part will appeal above all to DIYers and Lego fans. It is a very good family game, but rather in small committees according to us.
Nintendo has not been able to beat Lego at its own game but all the same, these accessories plunge us into a hybrid world between toys and video games, much like the Lego Boost and connected toys for iPad. And Labo has the advantage of being more affordable, at least if you already have a switch. In this case, you probably will not regret investing in one of these kits. Not sure however that it would push us to buy the console. Anyway, there are already enough good reasons to want a Switch. Labo is an icing on the cake, bizarre and fascinating.