After the Wii and the Switch, it’s fair to say that Nintendo is no stranger to quirky innovation. Now, the company has announced a new experiment for the latter handheld/console hybrid, one that involves inserting the device into pieces of cardboard to create accessories for controlling mini-games.
Called Nintendo Labo, the two playsets that will be available in the US on April 20 consist of cardboard sheets that can be used to build items such as robots, pianos, fishing rods, and motorbike handles. Users place the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers and the tablet itself into the creations to play the games.
The two different sets going on sale are the $70 Variety Kit and the $80 Robot Kit, both of which include a Switch cartridge, cardboard pieces, and any other parts that are required, such as string and reflective stickers. Instructions on how to create the accessories, which Nintendo has named Toy-Cons, appear on the Switch’s screen. There’ll also be a $10 Customization Kit available that includes stencils, stickers, and colored tape.
The Variety Kit includes five Toy-Con projects: two RC cars; one fishing rod; one house; one motorbike; and one piano. The slightly more expensive kit comes with the massive robot suit seen in the video (top). Nintendo says it will let users “build an interactive robot suit with a visor, backpack and straps for your hands and feet, which you can then wear to assume control of a giant in-game robot.”
Here are Nintendo’s descriptions of the Toy-Cons in the Variety Kit:
- 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 console. 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 tug the Fishing Rod upward and crank the reel quickly 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 with, play games with and feed 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, while twisting the right handle activates the throttle. 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 experiment with your own musical creations by pressing different keys. You can even insert different assembled knobs to create new sound effects and tones!
Nintendo of America is holding Labo events in New York City and San Francisco for kids aged 6 – 12 to get some early hands-on sessions with the Toy-Cons. You can find out more here.