Nintendo Labo has a great name.
I love saying it.
I’ve been saying “Labo” to anyone who will listen for many hours. I like that it’s sort of like collaboration, it’s sort of like laboratory, and it sort of rhymes with Nintendo.
It Makes Wonderful Use of the Joy-Con Hardware!
The Switch Joy-Cons are packed with cool hardware. Much of it is unused or underused in current games.
In particular, the infrared depth camera on the bottom of the right Joy-Con.
That camera gets a huge workout inside the Labo toys.
Excuse me, the Labo Toy-Cons. (That’s great naming too).
Combining the infrared camera with the multiple motion sensors to bring toys to life is a cool idea…and I hope that its inevitable sales success pushes more developers to do fun stuff with the Switch in the future.
The Marketing is Brilliant
You’ve watched this video already, right?
That’s some slick Nintendo marketing, right there!
I bet it took months and hundreds of careful meetings to make that. Many of the Switch owners I know were sold on the concept the second they got to the end of the video.
That’s impressive work.
It sells kids and adults on the concept all in one swoop. In fact, I think more adults will buy this than kids…considering they’ll need to have gainful employment to afford everything.
OH NO THE PRICE
The variety kit is $69.99. The robot kit is $79.99. And there’s a pack of stickers and stencils for $9.99.
So your total spend if you want to go all-in on Labo’s launch in April?
In the world of high-end tech toys…I guess that’s not the worst price. But as video games go, it’s abysmal.
I remember friends being lucky enough to get $300 Capsela bundles in the 90's, and you can spend much more than that on Lego Mindstorms without breaking a sweat.
Except those are self-contained toys not made out of cardboard.
Hey parents, you just bought your kids a $300 Switch console that comes with nothing to play…ready to turn around and spend a ton of money on some cardboard instead of video games?
The Cardboard Conundrum
Nintendo has figured out how to charge people a bunch of money for interactive cardboard.
I have no doubt that the bundled software will be functional and good…but will it be worth $10 more at a minimum than Super Mario Odyssey? Will these toys provide the same amount of fun?
Or will they be too easy for siblings to break since they’re made of freaking cardboard?
What happens if your Labo toy breaks or gets wet? Buy a new one!
What happens if someone accidentally throws out or recycles the toy thinking that it’s packing material? Buy a new one!
What happens when more Toy-Con kits release, making your sad old well-used Labo cardboard toys no longer the hottest thing? Buy a new one!
I have no doubt that Nintendo did research on this. Maybe they somehow anticipated this and they’re using some magical super cardboard that won’t break so easily…
Or maybe they just don’t care and they’re about to rake in the profit.
I am a 33 year old man, and when Lego Dimensions came out, I bought it for myself.
Then I spent an hour being frustrated that I had to assemble the Lego Portal first before I could play the game. I mean I get it, it’s Lego and this was the gimmick, but this just took too darn long.
I don’t have the best attention span, but I’d wager most kids would get bored of the Lego Dimensions process before the portal was ready.
Labo seems like it’ll have this problem times ten.
I can just imagine kids running off while parents are left to do the painstaking Labo assembly process. Not every kid, sure. But I bet it’ll be close to 50 percent.
And that’s supposed to be at least a third of the fun.
The Labo toys have many different pieces, flaps, rubber bands, and whatsits inside. They’re going to requite more patience than the instant gratification of most games, and more repair when something goes wrong.
That’s an interesting gamble in today’s immediate world.
To me personally, Nintendo Labo seems like a well-marketed money grab aimed at vulnerable families.
It costs too much money. It’s made out of cardboard. It has no real creativity. It’s a set of prescribed toys that people will play with, have fun with, and move on from…
…or accidentally break.
Now, if one day Nintendo allows me to create my own Labo Toy-Cons? Maybe order them online and get them printed, cut, and shipped? That would be pretty darn cool. And also the height of stupid luxury.
As presented, Labo seems like about $20 worth of basic software and a whole lot of expensive cardboard.
I’m going to keep saying the name all the time though.