Thinking Outside the Box
Nintendo Labo is the name of Nintendo's new DIY "experience," which is coming to Switch this spring. What makes Labo unlike any other game the company has ever released is that it comes bundled with sheets of cardboard, strings, rubber bands, and other materials, with which you can build cardboard peripherals called Toy-Cons.
Labo is being released in two separate kits, each of which comes with different materials and activities. The first package, the Variety Kit, lets you build five different Toy-Cons for use with a corresponding mini-game: RC Car, Fishing Rod, Piano, House, and Motorbike. The second Labo kit, Robot, doesn't feature the same breadth of activities, but it is much more complex. It lets players build an intricate cardboard backpack that is used to control a robot on the television screen.
We got to try Labo out for ourselves at a preview event this week, assembling some of our own Toy-Cons and playing each of the activities included in the two different Labo kits. You can watch us test out the different Toy-Cons in our Labo gameplay montage, but if you want a closer look at the game, click through the gallery above to see each of the Toy-Cons you can make and learn more about their corresponding activities.
Given Labo's rather unusual premise, you may still have questions as to what it is you actually do with the game. If you're still confused, we broke down exactly what Nintendo Labo is. Labo releases in the US and Australia on April 20, while it arrives in Europe on April 27.
The RC Car is the simplest Toy-Con in the Labo Variety Kit. It can be assembled in only a couple of minutes, and unlike the other activities in the package, it doesn't interact with a specific mini-game on the Switch. Instead, the console itself functions as a remote control for the RC Car. After inserting your Joy-Cons into the sides of the car, you're able to drive it around by pressing buttons on the Switch's screen. The Variety Kit comes with enough material to create two RC Cars.
The Fishing Rod Toy-Con is actually comprised of two separate constructions: the rod itself, and a cradle (the "Ocean") that houses the Switch console vertically. The Fishing Rod is attached to the Ocean via a string, and by rotating its reel, you can raise or lower your fishing hook on the Switch screen. This is used to play a simple game of fishing; lower your line until you spot a shoal of fish, and once one bites down on it, you must pull the rod back to hook the fish and rotate the reel to pull it up to the surface.
As its name suggests, the House Toy-Con resembles a tiny home. The right Joy-Con is inserted into the chimney, while the Switch console itself is slotted in the center. A fluffy creature lives inside the House, and you're able to interact with it by plugging different "keys" into the sides and bottom of the Toy-Con; one key makes a faucet appear, which you can turn to fill the House with water. Inserting two keys at once lets you play a mini-game, like a short minecart level or a bowling alley, in which you earn candy to feed to the creature.
The Piano is one of the most complex Toy-Cons to assemble, though it's the most straightforward in terms of what you can do with it. Once put together, the Toy-Con acts like a real piano, playing music when you press its keys. The Switch console is slotted above the keyboard and displays the notes you're pressing. The Piano also comes with three different knobs that can be inserted into the top of the Toy-Con. These change the tone of the notes; one knob, for example, turns each note into a cat meow.
The Motorbike Toy-Con resembles the headlight and handlebars of a dirt bike. Each Joy-Con is inserted into one of the handlebars, while the Switch console rests in the center of the Toy-Con and provides your view of the racetrack. There are several different races you can participate in against AI opponents. You press a button on the right handlebar to start your engine, then twist the handlebar to accelerate, turning the Toy-Con to steer your character around the racetrack.
Unquestionably the most complex Toy-Con from the two announced Labo kits, Robot has you assemble a cardboard backpack that is worn to control an on-screen robot. The right Joy-Con is inserted into the back of the Toy-Con and reads your movements when you pull the levers attached to your hands and feet. The object of the game we tried was to destroy a city by punching and stomping buildings and other objects. Kneeling down also transforms your robot into a vehicle, while spreading your arms out to the sides allows you to fly. The Toy-Con also comes with a visor; when that is pulled down over your eyes, the action on-screen shifts to a first-person viewpoint.