When I first heard of Nintendo Labo, I have to be honest and didn’t feel too excited. I mean, they are just cardboards and sure, it looks interesting to be able to use these printed cardboards to give you more immersion in a game. But I had a play once with Google Cardboard in the past and it felt cheap and clunky.
When I was invited by Nintendo Australia to get a hands-on experience with Nintendo Labo last weekend, again, I did feel the excitement, but it wasn’t much. I said yes just to see what the hype is all about but what I saw on the day, was simply not what I expected.
Nintendo Labo is amazingly, mind blowing. One of the reasons is to see how good the technology behind Nintendo Switch really is (compared to the previous Wii), but it is the creativity and how Nintendo use the technology actually amazed me the most.
Nintendo Labo Official Trailer (if you don’t know what Nintendo Labo is):
Nintendo Labo First Impressions
Ok, so they took us first to a workshop where we could make our Nintendo Labo’s RC Car with the cardboards. Instructions were pretty clear (displayed on the Nintendo Switch console) plus, it’s animated so it’s really easy to see which part needs to go where. I’m usually terrible at assembling IKEA furniture but Labo’s instructions are clear and simple. Even kids didn’t seem to have problems with it from what I could see during the event.
Given the time and materials, you can go crazy and decorate your own RC Car with stickers, tape, and colouring pens, making it personalised. I could clearly see kids loving this and since you can always get a new cardboard and then recreate a new one, this is something that kids should not get bored with as they can change their own car as many as they want.
By using vibrations and sensors in the attached Joy-Con Controllers, you can then race with one another or have a Sumo battle. It was fun but probably not the kind of game that adults would love to play for long. I can see it to be a great fun to play with the whole family though.
Afterwards, we were taken to a different area to get our hands on the other Nintendo Labo’s experience. This time, the cardboards already came pre-assembled (so not to waste our time) and we had a chance to try out the other games. This was when we got our mind blown (not literally) – especially when trying out the Piano.
What amazed us was that Nintendo didn’t just stop at one idea. It showed how tiny my brain is compared to these crazy, creative people at Nintendo. For example, while making the cardboards somehow talked to the Console to let out a melody tune is cool in itself, there’s more. Using IR stickers and the IR camera on the Joy-Con controller, you can further customise the Piano to change the pitch or the instruments, which you can then layer in a simple-to-use recording studio and create your own masterpiece.
A Nintendo representative also taught us in detail how it all worked and even showed us how to create some of its magic using cardboards that represent different sound waves. Seriously, it’s mind-blowing when you experience it in person (how many times have I said this word, seriously).
But the unexpected twist during the event was the Fishing Rod. I expected it to be an ordinary experience, even though the concept of making a fish rod out of a cardboard might seem cool. When I tried it, I was surprised at how fun and real the experience was. It really felt as if the fish in the game was pulling the string when caught (through the use of the Switch’s smart vibration), and the fishing game was looking good enough that it just felt great to play.
Being able to reel in the Shark seems to be the main attraction in this game, and the toughest challenge so far. We were told only one person could successfully get the Shark out in the whole event. We tried and failed, yet the immersion felt real and we still wanted to just sit down and play. Here’s a short clip:
Though not recommended, I can see people
fishing playing this while doing number two in the restroom. Or riding their bikes, oh dear.
We tried the Motorbike and House, which made me wish I can play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with the Labo. Sadly, the answer is no.
All these will be included in Nintendo Labo’s Variety Kit (SRP AU$99.95) and will be available on the 20th of April 2018 in Australia. The other Labo kit is the Robot Kit and sold separately (SRP AU$119.95) – which will also be available on the 20th of April 2018 in Australia.
The Robot Kit is also fun to play as there are lots of ways for you to control the robot and use its arsenal of weaponry and equipments like the jump jet.
Last but not least, we were taken to another section where we could make our own, custom game with Nintendo Labo. The platform has a series of code libraries that you can select to later create a series of actions and conditions (kind of like coding your own game, but without having to understand C or Java programming language).
I was told there is no IF-ELSE statements yet in the platform but we can see it being added in the future. This definitely shows promise and we were told by our host that a 9 year-old girl actually made a simple shooting game in another session. Pretty cool.
We definitely had tons of fun over the weekend and I can’t wait to see Nintendo Labo being released later this month in Australia. It’s packed with potentials and whoever thought of Nintendo Labo and its concepts, is a true genius.
Nintendo Labo may not look exciting at first sight (i.e if you see it as just cardboards being used to make you play your game better), but you have to experience to believe it. Labo fully utilises the Joy-Con sensor and IR technology to the max and it’s amazing to see how fluid and seamless these advanced sensors being used, and it feels like they just magically work together.
It’s clear that this magic was hidden away from us when we got our Nintendo Switch and review it (check out Craving Tech’s Nintendo Switch review if you haven’t). And now that it’s being unveiled, the future just looks brighter. But I still want a party, multiplayer Raving Rabbid game on the Switch please (and not like the Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle).
Disclosure: I was invited by Nintendo Australia to the Nintendo Labo hands on experience and workshop. All thoughts and opinions in this post are mine and not paid