Nintendo has never been short on creativity. The visionary company's unique video game propositions have led it to enormous success, stinging failures and a lot of quizzical looks, especially last night (17 January) when it revealed its latest unique idea.
Nintendo Labo blends the gaming giant's savy for game design with its long history as a toy-maker in what it describes as a "new line of interactive make, play and discover experiences designed to inspire creative minds and playful hearts alike".
To the cynical eye however, it looks like a whole lot of cardboard.
Launching on 27 April in Europe and 20 April in North America, Labo will be sold in two packs: a Variety Kit and Robot Kit. In them are the means to create remote control cars, toy fishing rods, 13-key pianos and more.
It all works in tandem with Nintendo Switch, the inventive console released last March to worldwide success.
Labo puts to use the motion control functionality, infrared camera and 'high-definition rumble' of Switch's Joy-Con controllers. The IR camera in the Right Joy-Con is used to sense which keys of the piano are being struck for example.
They can also be the handlebars of a motorbike, the working reel of a fishing rod and much more. The Robot Kit turns into an exo-skeleton of sorts with a backpack and arm extensions, used in a game seemingly born out of Project Giant Robot.
The peripherals will be used in games packed in with each kit, attributing to the cost - which is set at $69.99 for the Variety Kit and $79.99 for the Robot Kit. No European prices have been announced. The patterns will be made available online so players will be able to create new accessories should the ones that come packaged with the game be damaged.
Nintendo of Europe president Satoru Shibata said in a press release: "Our goal is to put smiles on the faces of everyone Nintendo touches.
"Nintendo Labo invites anyone with a creative mind and a playful heart to make, play and discover in new ways with Nintendo Switch. I personally hope to see many people enjoying making kits with their family members, with big smiles on their faces."
Here's how Nintendo describes the two packs' builds.
With the Variety Kit, you can create many different Toy-Con, including Toy-Con RC Car, Toy-Con Fishing Rod, Toy-Con House, Toy-Con Motorbike and Toy-Con Piano.
- Toy-Con RC Car: Insert the Left and Right Joy-Con into your newly built RC Car and control its movement using touch screen controls on the Nintendo Switch. The HD rumble feature in the Joy-Con controllers will cause vibrations that move the car in the direction you choose. Materials to construct two RC Cars are included.
- Toy-Con Fishing Rod: Construct the Fishing Rod with an active, rotating reel that is attached by string to a cradle holding the Nintendo Switch console. Catch one of many exotic fish shown swimming on the Nintendo Switch screen by casting your Fishing Rod and unwinding the reel to lower the hook. Once you feel a vibration from the Joy-Con inserted in the reel, you must crank the reel quickly and tug the Fishing Rod upwards to try and complete the catch.
- Toy-Con House: By inserting various assembled blocks into openings in the sides and bottom of the House, you can interact, feed and play games with a cute creature on the front-facing Nintendo Switch screen. Each differently shaped block is detected by the IR Motion Camera on the Right Joy-Con inserted on top of the House.
- Toy-Con Motorbike: Insert each Joy-Con into an assembled set of handlebars to drive a motorbike on the Nintendo Switch screen. Pressing the ignition button starts the engine, twisting the right handle activates the throttle, and leaning your body or turning the handlebars left and right controls the motorbike.
- Toy-Con Piano: After assembling a beautifully crafted 13-key piano and inserting the Nintendo Switch console and Joy-Con, you can create your own music by pressing different keys. You can even insert different assembled knobs to create new sound effects and tones.
- Toy-Con Robot: Create a wearable robot suit, and insert the Left and Right Joy-Con into the designated slots on the backpack and visor to assume control of the robot, which is shown on the TV when the Nintendo Switch console is docked. Enjoy a variety of fun game-play experiences, including Robot mode, where you can destroy in-game buildings and UFOs.