Thinking Outside the Box: Nintendo Labo

Unless you’re Solid Snake, the Nintendo Labo probably left you going, “huh, that’s a bit strange.” Nintendo’s newest announcement, aimed for children and those who are children at heart, is a combination between the Joy-Con’s IR functionality and DIY cardboard patterns that must be carefully constructed to create unique immersive experiences. The announcement video displays these two different packages, the first including a thirteen key piano, a fishing rod, motorcycle handles, an RC car, and a house. The other package includes one of the more interesting pieces: a robot suit complete with a visor, backpack, and straps for both hands and feet. That’s right, your childhood fantasy of becoming a cardboard powered robot is now a reality. Releasing April 20, the Variety Kit is priced at $69.99 and the Robot Kit will set you back $79.99.

When the Switch was announced back in October 2016, Nintendo’s stock prices plummeted around 6.5% as many business analysts were initially skeptical of the console’s success, most likely due to the Wii U’s lack of financial success. Within its first year, Nintendo has sold over 10 million Switch consoles worldwide, proving it to be a more successful follow-up to the Wii U.

Though Nintendo’s last ambitious announcement left investors hesitant of the Switch’s success, Nintendo Labo’s announcement actually increased Nintendo’s stock by 4% on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. It may be too early to tell how well Labo will sell, but the initial price point seems fair compared to other Switch titles. The two kits don’t only come with cardboard pieces as the paired software remains the bulk of the package. Children and parents alike will be able to spend time together in order to create an experience that is just as fun to build as it is to play with, reminiscent of the childhood magic of LEGOs. The patterns seem rather simple, but just intuitive enough to give parents an excuse to help their kids set up these nifty “Toy-Cons.” Nintendo also offers a $9.99 Customization Set that includes stencil and sticker sheets allowing the creativity to flourish even more.

While it may not be for everyone, it is interesting to see Nintendo’s design and marketing philosophy continue to appeal to broader audiences. Nintendo and its blue ocean strategy still show to be successful among an industry bent on recent 4K and VR trends. One can only hope that Nintendo will only further develop alongside other DIY communities, possibly paving the way for custom Labo creations. There is even a possibility for schools to utilize the Labo as a tool for educating children on the various uses of technology as a way for bringing unique ideas into reality. Nintendo Labo might just be the weirdest innovation Nintendo has yet to offer, but also one that can bridge that ever growing gap between the digital and real worlds.

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