Nintendo Labo, the company’s quirky new cardboard-based accessories for the Switch, is finally here. Are they truly innovative or just a flash in the pan? Here’s what the critics are saying. ( Dave Kotinsky | Getty Images for Nintendo of America )
Labo turns the Switch into a piano player, a full-fledged robot suit, and a fishing game with a fishing rod, to boot. It also turns the console's Joy-Con controllers into RC cars able to see heat signatures by virtue of the built-in infrared camera, and move via vibrations.
Is It Just A Gimmick?
It's more than an idea. Ideas are a dime a dozen — anybody can get them. But how Nintendo implements this idea to make the Switch essentially the dream project of DIY junkies is what matters. Cardboard peripherals? Sounds cool. Cardboard accessories that use the infrared camera to incorporate movements into a game? Sounds way cooler. In fact, this exact approach is what elevates Labo from gimmick to an absolute creative sandbox.
As such, early reviews for Labo, out April 20, are unsurprisingly glowing. Some critics say it provides an avenue of learning by making, which is significantly hard to achieve with a machine that's designed to play video games first and foremost. Once again, Nintendo has managed to innovate the way people play, proving that it's not just about good video games — it's also about different ways to interact with them, then share those experiences with other people.
Below are some reviews for Nintendo Labo:
Nintendo Labo Review Roundup
The Verge: "The tagline for Labo is "make, play, and discover." Each of these elements is an equally important part of the experience, but the most impressive aspect of Labo is how the lines between the three blur. You play as you build, you discover as you play, and it's a blast no matter what you're doing."
"Labo is an experience where creating and building are just as much fun as playing. It eases you into this world: at the beginning, you're simply folding cardboard. But just a few hours later, you're trying to figure out how to turn a box into an interactive drum kit."
TechRadar: "Certainly, we can see a lot of educational potential with Labo and we don't think it would look out of place in classrooms, particularly when the programming features of Toy-Con Garage come into play. It's guerilla education."
"Though there's a lot of focus on the clever cardboard Toy-Cons, cardboard is only a very small part of Labo. Nintendo has crafted an engaging and exciting bit of software here and we can't wait to see the community that will inevitably form around it"
Time: "Labo could be a hit, or a flash in the pan. But it's clear that Nintendo isn't content with the Switch being just an ordinary video game console, and it's going to continue trying to give you new reasons to buy one."
CNET: "Labo is precisely the sort of wild idea that Nintendo somehow pulls out of its hat and succeeds at. It's surreal, enchanting, challenging and turns the concept of using the Switch inside out. As my son said, 'It's like an extension of the Switch.' It's impressed everyone I've shown it to. But it's not necessarily something everyone's going to want to use."
PC Authority: "It's through the introduction of Nintendo Labo that the Japanese company's history as a toymaker shines through. Long gone are the days of Nintendo's original Japanese toys, replaced by consoles and video games but that sense of playfulness the company has instilled in people for hundreds of years hasn't been diluted."
"There's hours of entertainment here, countless more of learning and experimentation. The fact everything is made of cardboard shouldn't be a deterrent either, it means that it's fixable, customisable, re-creatable. If it breaks, you can just repair it, and Nintendo even shows you how."
Nintendo Labo comes in two kits, a "Variety" one and a "Robot" one. The former, which costs $70, includes a number of cardboard peripherals and games, while the latter, which costs $80, includes a full robot suit. Both are available starting April 20.
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