If you missed it (or don’t care about video games) Nintendo announced something new for the Nintendo Switch yesterday. It wasn’t a game (well, it’s kind of a game) but more of an add-on to the system. Although I hesitate to even call it an add-on because it’s…well it’s weird. Here, take a look at this reveal trailer and then come back here.
You watched it?
If you’re a bum and refused to watch the trailer, here’s what Nintendo is releasing in April of this year: cardboard. Yes, that’s right, the team at Nintendo has come up with cardboard constructions that use the HD rumble of the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers to creative innovative and interesting physical objects that expand on Switch games. There’s a cardboard piano you can construct, or a small RC car, or even an actual dude. There’s also a special giant robot kit that you can make and in the game you become the mech.
While the rest of the gaming sphere is focused on Virtual Reality, Nintendo is focused on Cardboard Reality.
The Nintendo Labo Cardboardo Piano.
Now obviously the Nintendo Labo (the moniker these construction kits are put under) is geared at kids with imaginations. And I personally think it’s pretty great. It is the most obvious and in-your-face way that shows why we need a company like Nintendo alongside companies like Sony, Microsoft, EA, Activision, and the like. While other gaming companies are focused on 4K and high-end graphics and squeezing the most out of the CPU rock and making high-resolution 60 fps games – or investing millions of dollars into virtual reality technology in hopes to be the first to really break it into the mainstream, Nintendo is going the other way and aiming at children who could care less about whether the TV is 1080p or 4k.
The following tweet puts it better than I ever could:
Of course Nintendo’s foray into the different has ignited all sorts of internet wars. People complaining that they’re paying $70 for a bunch of cardboard (the multi-kit costs $70 and the giant robot kit costs $80, on top of having to own a Switch) while others arguing that the material will be too flimsy and machines are going to get broken. There’s also a lot of people wading into the arguments that aren’t the target audience and were never going to buy anything related to Labo in the first place. It was expected, but also disheartening.
You see, video game enthusiasts as a large group have a weird sense of entitlement. As a mass, they tend to think that all games should be targeted to them. And things like Labo or simpler games that are targeted at kids are a waste of time and energy when Nintendo could be working on Metroid Prime 4. But no, a six year old does not have to learn about the classics and have to start with Super Mario Bros or Halo or whatever other game you think is a must-play. Kids are allowed to be kids, and this kind of kid-friendly addition to Switch is pretty neat. Yes, I do agree it’s on the pricey side, but it also gives kids the ability to use their imagination.
Once again, like with the Wiimote and Wii in general, Nintendo is bringing video games into the physical space. This time in a different way – building in addition to playing. It’s also telling that this is very kid-focused because they didn’t franchise it out. They aren’t leading off with a Mario game that happens to include cardboard. Because we all know that Nintendo enthusiasts would give their left kidney if there was a Legend of Zelda-related cardboard kit.
I’m excited to see how the Labo does. It’s not for me, but I’m definitely rooting for Nintendo to do well with it. It’s another one of their off-the-wall ideas that shows they aren’t just chasing the main market. They’re always looking at options to innovate and explore how video games can be more than just video games. And I’m all for that.