Nintendo Labo - Great Innovation or Load of Old Rubbish?

Katie Lalwani takes a look at Nintendo’s latest product announcement and whether it will live up to the hype. The Nintendo Switch was undoubtedly one of the major gaming highlights of 2017. The ‘hybrid console’ saw soaring demand, with its key appeal being its ability to easily transform between a home console and a portable gaming device. Now seeking to push the limits of the Switch even further, Nintendo recently surprised everyone with its latest product announcement: Nintendo Labo.These Nintendo Labo kits consists of cardboard flat packs which can be used to build a host of ‘toy con’ creations including a piano, a fishing rod, and a wearable robot suit. It’s when these cardboard builds are paired together with the Switch, that the magic truly happens. Suddenly, the user is able to play their constructed piano, use the fishing rod to reel in an on-screen fish, and transform themselves into a giant rampaging robot.
“Many applaud the creative nature of these IKEA flat-pack type kits, which offer a unique blend of video game and traditional toy.”
Since the announcement of Nintendo Labo, there have been mixed reactions online. Many applaud the creative nature of these IKEA flat-pack type kits, which offer a unique blend of video game and traditional toy. Some saw the product’s potential application in education through encouraging children’s creative development and problem-solving abilities. It could also inspire an interest in engineering, coding, and arts and crafts from a young age.Not everyone is a fan of the idea however. Some were quick to call the product a gimmick. Many questioned how a few pieces of cardboard and string could be so expensive. It is unclear whether the builds and accompanying mini-game will provide more than short-term satisfaction and if players really are getting their money’s worth. Others have raised concerns about the sensibility of encouraging young children to use such a fragile and expensive piece of technology as physical toys.Regardless of its pitfalls, Nintendo Labo is a perfect example of Nintendo bringing innovation to the gaming industry. It can be seen as a further development for the future of virtual reality gaming, an area which is currently seeing great interest.Currently available for preorder, Nintendo Labo will hit the shops this coming April. Starting off, there are two different kits on offer: a variety kit and a robot kit. Both contain the materials needed to build the toy cons as well as a game cartridge to work together with the Switch.While the trailer offers a sneak peak at what the future has in store, it is clear that this is just the beginning for Nintendo Labo. There is limitless potential for the product to develop further, with more kits and new toy con varieties certainly expected to come. There is plenty of potential for crossovers with main Nintendo titles such as Super Mario and Zelda with games featuring toy con peripherals.Overall, it is difficult to say just yet whether the Nintendo Labo will be an innovation that endures or a short fad. Regardless of its success, the product fulfills the need for fresh ideas in the industry and may push other games companies to think outside the (cardboard) box.