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Nintendo unveils Labo, DIY cardboard add-ons for the Switch

This is Nintendo at its most Nintendo.
David Lumb, @OutOnALumb
January 17, 2018
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If you thought Minecraft was the best thing for kids on the Switch, get ready for Nintendo to (once again) blow your mind. Behold Labo, a set of DIY tools built on cardboard sheets that turns the console into a powerhouse of play. Make a piano, with the Switch's screen for music! No, wait, a motorcycle game with cardboard handlebars! A house, with the Switch displaying an interior you can customize! Now is the era of the Toy-Con (yes, that's an official term).

Labo comes in standalone kits, each with an assortment of designs and parts (like rubber bands and eyelets), as well as Switch cartridges holding the software. They include sets of pre-cut cardboard sheets, so kids can just punch out the pieces and assemble their project of choice. Two are listed on Nintendo's Labo website: A $70 variety pack, which includes the aforementioned piano, motorcycle and house, as well as an $80 kit to create a wearable robot-simulating suit. While aimed at kids, there's some, uh, cross-generational appeal here (ROBOT KIT!).

Gallery: Nintendo Labo | 5 Photos

Clearly Nintendo intends this to be a discovery tool for youngsters to learn and play, repurposing the Switch to augment a dynamic constructive experience. At first glance, it's hard to gauge how this system will play out: Kids will probably shred through the cardboard just by using it, yet that keeps the system's cost low and could open the door for homebrewed hacks. Heck, it's cheaper to download a cardboard design for a custom controller than 3D-print one. Whether kids will be motivated to repurpose their console for 'edutainment' instead of using it to just play games is another question.

Labo goes on sale on April 20th in the US and April 27th in Europe. If you live in New York or San Francisco, Nintendo is putting on 3-hour Labo Studio hands-on events -- but you can only attend by bringing a 6-12 year old kid. Space is limited, so register now.

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