Nintendo wants you to make your own Switch peripherals out of cardboard with Nintendo Labo
CES wrapped up last week, and we saw some truly innovative products from the tech world and (especially) gaming companies. Leave it to Nintendo, though, to steal the spotlight less than a week later with a new product idea that is unlike anything the gaming world has ever seen. Introducing Nintendo Labo.
Labo is essentially a product line of peripherals and accessories for the Switch, but here's the catch: they're all made from corrugated cardboard. Nintendo will sell kits to make accessories, which Nintendo has dubbed "Toy-Cons" (a clever pun on the Joy-Con controllers). Each kit includes a Switch cartridge that will display on-screen instructions walking the user through the construction of each Toy-Con. Once the Toy-Con is assembled, gamers can then set the Switch and Joy-Con controllers in different parts of the cardboard concoction for unique and varied gameplay experiences.
The Toy-Cons themselves range from somewhat simple (like a bug-shaped remote-controlled car that can be built in about 5-10 minutes) to highly complex (like a piano with working keys that could take up to two hours to complete). The Toy-Cons will use the vibration motors and features of the Joy-Con controllers for different functionality. For instance, the "bug car" is able to move due to the position and vibration of the Joy-Cons. The piano keys contain a bit of reflective tape at one end that can be seen by the IR cameras in the Joy-Con controllers, which then communicate with the Switch to tell the game which keys are being pressed.
Currently, there are quite a few Toy-Cons in development. Nintendo showed off a Variety Kit that includes the bug car, a telescoping fishing pole with string, the piano, and two other games. Perhaps the biggest buzz was around a miniature robot suit that is essentially a cardboard backpack attached to the wearer's hands and feet via string. The Robot Kit also includes a cardboard headset that holds the Joy-Cons and the Switch console itself for a pseudo-VR experience.
Nintendo Labo is certainly not what anyone was expecting, but it's this kind of innovation that has kept Nintendo in everyone's minds and on everyone's lips. Labo definitely seems like a niche product and has been met with trepidation from more "hardcore" gamers, but keep in mind that these same gamers scoffed at the Wii back in 2006; that console went on to be Nintendo's most successful non-portable system, selling over 100 million units worldwide.