Nintendo is big on innovation in gaming, and while that hasn't always worked out over the years (ahem, the Virtual Boy and Wii U), it's panned out amazingly well with the Switch. And Nintendo Labo could be the next smash.
What is Nintendo Labo? Well, it's cardboard… but this isn't a virtual reality ploy. Instead, Nintendo Labo are a pair of cardboard cutout kits that create inventive peripherals that can transform the Switch in weirdly wonderful new ways – or let you dress up like a robot in front of your telly. Yes, really!
It's another out-of-left-field move from Nintendo, but the first trailer is dazzlingly imaginative and looks like something that kids will eat up – and non-kids, too. Here's everything you need to know about Nintendo Labo so far.
1) Yes, they're selling cardboard
Look, we love Nintendo, but putting a premium price on logo-adorned cardboard is just too far… right? Nah. Nintendo Labo hardly looks like a half-baked cash-in: it looks really inspired and inventive, and it's tapping into maker/DIY culture while you wield your pricey home-or-handheld console.
Essentially, each Nintendo Labo kit comes with sheets of cardboard with snap-out designs within, which you'll fold up and turn into a variety of shapes. Each of those interacts with the console in some way, whether you slide the Switch screen in, pop in the Joy-Con controllers, or wear the pieces to turn yourself into a full-sized controller.
And you'll get a game bundled with each kit, of course, unlocking the digital companion to your DIY peripherals while also including interactive instructions on how to set up each creation.
2) One kit is a variety pack
Most of the trailer above focuses on the main attraction, the Variety Kit, which comes with five different shapes to create from the included cardboard sheets.
One has a pair of Toy-Con RC Car builds, which you can slide the Joy-Con controllers into – and then it drives, thanks to the HD Rumble vibrations in each controller. You'll use touchscreen controls on the Switch to drive it around.
Another is a fishing rod, which extends out with string and lets you pretend-fish via your Switch screen. And it'll even vibrate when you get a bite. There's also a house that you can play with by sliding in different blocks, and a motorbike controller that lets you play a racing game by holding the cardboard handles.
The most stunning one of the bunch has to be the Toy-Con Piano, though, which has 13 working keys that are recognized by the IR Motion Camera in the right Joy-Con. It also has knobs for tweaking the output and creating new noises, and you'll dock the Switch right into the little paper piano. (The Guardian says it'll take about two hours to build the piano, though…)
There are a couple other interesting-looking devices in the trailer, such as a kick-drum pedal and a little cardboard guy with a Joy-Con strapped to his back, although it's not clear if those are bundled in this kit or just future possibilities for the Labo line.
3) The other turns you into a robot
Well, this is pleasantly absurd. The Nintendo Labo robot kit is one that you will physically wear as you play a game on your TV.
It has a big, boxy backpack that you'll strap on, which is attached by string to stirrups around your feet, plus there's a head visor and two controllers that look like cardboard HTC Vive wands. And you'll pop one Joy-Con into the backpack and the other into the visor getup.
And then you'll punch the hell out of buildings as a giant robot, and hopefully do a bit more digital damage as you make a fool of yourself in front of the telly.
4) And you can decorate everything too
Alongside these two starter kits, Nintendo will release a Customisation Set that comes with various stickers from across the Nintendo gaming universe, a couple different rolls of colourful tape, and stencil sheets for putting your own stamp on each device.
Of course, you could just grab whatever paints and markers you have handy, but that wouldn't be very official now, would it? Just kidding – do whatever you want with your cardboard piano. We won't judge.
5) They're coming in April
We'll see both Nintendo Labo kits in April, alongside the Customisation Set. They'll release in the UK on 27 April, while folks in the States get them a week early on 20 April.
As for price, it's unclear what they'll go for in the UK, but the Variety Pack sells for US$70, the Robot Kit goes for US$80, and you'll pay $10 for the stickers, tape, and stencils kit.
Given the online buzz around the announcement, we wouldn't be surprised to see these kits in short supply at first, much like the Switch and nearly every other desirable Nintendo release over the years. Hopefully some pre-order links will pop up soon so you can start making plans to dress up like a robot in late April…