This past Wednesday Nintendo unveiled their Labo range, a series of cardboard-based peripherals - or Toy-Cons (the name is adorable, admit it) - that are used to interact with specific software and provide “a new way to play” your Switch. The products have caused quite a divisive stir, further fuelled by the announcement of a weighty pricing model; as such, we’ve polled team PTC to gauge the reaction in our cosy corner of the Internet.
Editor, James Parry
Announcements which make you say 'Oh' could suggest a spectrum of emotion:
'Oh god, what have they done?’
'Oh wow, that actually looks really cool!’
‘Oh… how underwhelming...'
In the case of Nintendo Labo (surely up there with the Wii as one of the most Nintendo names of all time), for me it's probably a mixture of the first two.
Putting aside concerns about the use of plastic - a hot topic right now - the idea at first glance is one I can't see coming from any other games company, or at least no other company would be able to get away with it. The Joy-Cons as a piece of hardware are excellent, however their broad technological potential, and, by extension, Labo, are mostly lost on me due to sticking with Switch games that have more traditional control methods.
For kids though, it's a different story. Imagination is something Nintendo has always had a knack for capturing, and the pair of cardboard creations revealed so far already offer up near limitless possibilities in the right hands. Some parents may raise their eyebrows at putting down around £70 for some cardboard, understandably, but with so much samey-ness around and the ability to encourage creativity with pocket money-friendly customisation packs, why not?
Staff Writer, Chris Brand
I think the concept of flat pack controllers is ridiculous. I was never one for building or creating things so, for me, this sits comfortably between constructing a LEGO set and assembling an Ikea wardrobe on the entertainment scale. Like LEGO, much of the fun with Labo is to be had on the journey and, although I can see the appeal, it's not an activity I would ever willingly participate in.
There's also the cardboard issue. It's not known for being the most durable material and seems decidedly unsuited to being roughly handled. With the (not insignificant) price point, this could be an issue when it comes to replacing damaged kit.
I can see it gaining some traction but ultimately it's a gimmick and I suspect the novelty will wear off sooner, rather than later. However, I thought the same about Dubstep and that's, somehow, still a thing.
I reckon this is a rare misstep from Nintendo.
Staff Writer, Liam Andrews
Although it took me a full minute to realise the cardboard props being shown in the trailer were the actual product, and not just a lengthy build up to a reveal of some more flashy item, the fact that Nintendo is selling cardboard boxes isn’t all that surprising considering they were shifting empty Splatoon 2 packaging last year.
Still, I don’t quite know what to make of Labo. The idea of sitting down with a clear set of instructions and following them to create an awesome end product certainly appeals to me having grown up with Airfix kits and LEGO, but the price point that’s been floating around since the reveal seems far too excessive for what Labo is.
As Sam mentioned already, the total cost does include the software required to turn the cardboard into actual gaming peripherals, but I can’t see the games themselves being anything other than glorified tech demos, especially if they’re aimed at a younger audience. People have already pointed out on our forums that the combination of kids, expensive electronics and cardboard does seem like an accident waiting to happen.
Having said all that, I fully expect Labo to shift millions of units. I mean, who wouldn’t want their own Joy-Con RC car?
Staff Writer, Rob Holt
Like many others, I waited patiently for Nintendo’s 10pm mystery reveal, praying for the rumoured Link’s Awakening remaster, or perhaps a new iteration on the Switch. What we got were a series of cardboard nets that only the hardiest of Nintendo enthusiasts could describe as “exciting”.
For me, Labo will only ever appeal to young children; I don’t know any adults who would pay for a 13-key cardboard piano, robot backpack (is that where Project Giant Robot ended up?), or a cardboard fishing rod for that matter. Leave music to proper instruments, and videogame fishing to Sega, please, Nintendo.
It reeks of a grand, cynical money making ploy from one of my favourite developers, with price points to match. Mini-games locked inside cardboard nets for a lovely fat price, and nothing more. The only real surprise is that it wasn’t ready for Christmas - think of the guilt-tripping parents would’ve experienced!
To add further insult to injury, they’ve coined the products “Toy-Cons”, a name so bad that I required incense, lemon, ginger tea and an intense Enya listening session to calm down. I’m still on the fence with the Switch and its tiny buttons, but my Labo views are certain: burn that fucker down.
What are your thoughts on Labo? Dead against it like Rob? Open to something new like James? Let us know in the comments below or over on our forum.