Nintendo LABO was announced yesterday. What is Nintendo LABO? It’s a bunch of cardboard. Okay, that might be simplifying it a bit. In essence, LABO is taking papercraft to a whole new level. Due out later this Spring, the idea that you can make your own Switch accessory that you can play with various different gaming experiences? Is it some hardcore new gaming adventure? Nope. It is as Nintendo said it would be: for kids and those who are kids at heart. Nintendo isn’t afraid to just go for the fun of it all. And it’s precisely why the Kyoto company has been around for over a century.
LABO’s construction, especially the standalone “Robot” game, are incredibly in-depth builds. My son couldn’t build that. But he’s also not quite 5 years old. LABO isn’t for him. It’s for the kids who love to build, create, and those with the fine motor skills to do so. It’s for the LEGO builders, the Minecraft world makers. It’s for the kids who make forts out of pillows and old boxes. It’s for the kids who see a game like Little Big Planet and light up as they go off and make their own levels.
I saw a lot of gamers in my social media timelines disappointed that what Nintendo announced wasn’t “for them”. But not everything the gaming giant does will be for everyone. Hell, I’m not going to rush out and get LABO on day one. I don’t have the time or space in my house for more stuff (my son’s trucks dominate our living room), and my kids are too young to really get into LABO themselves. Now if in a few years, it’s still a big deal and he wants to try it, then we’ll see.
No, LABO isn’t for you and me. Unless we’re willing to put down the idea of fragging bad guys and achievement hunting, and just toy with the idea of games as toys to be played with. LABO, on some level, speaks to the very core of my long-lost childhood. It reminds me that I used to spend hours building and creating scenarios with my LEGOs. And yet, LABO is so much more. It’s a working mini piano, an RC car, a building smashing robot, a fishing pole, and so forth.
I won’t be getting LABO. Not right away. But you can bet your butt that I’m thrilled Nintendo still has the capacity to just say “The hell with it.” And make something they want to make. In the process, they make something we all wish we had the time and energy to love. I want to build this stuff with my boys, and hopefully, I will in a few years’ time. For now, I’ll gleefully and wistfully watch you all.