Nintendo surprised fans and consumers yesterday with the announcement of their new Labo project, which seeks to introduce cardboard craft projects to their Nintendo Switch console. Traditionally a producer of video game hardware and software, the famous Japanese company appears to be taking a step in a new direction with this recent announcement. Though apparently innovative, longtime Nintendo fans are struggling to decide if this new innovation is worthy of praise or condemnation.
It is important to remember that Nintendo, while famous for inciting something of a video game revolution in the mid-1980s, started out as a manufacturer of children’s toys. The company can trace its origins back to the late 19th century, and though it may seem impossible today, Nintendo nearly went bankrupt several times before entering the digital media market.
While few remember the company before it became synonymous with a mustachioed Italian plumber, lifelong fans will recognize their latest move as the most recent in a long string of attempts to shake up the industry. These attempts, the most notable of which was the Nintendo Wii’s paradoxically popular control scheme, have a history of either wildly succeeding or drastically failing. Most will remember the tremendous success that was the Wii, but few remember Nintendo’s Virtual Boy console — an early attempt at virtual reality that backfired so significantly that it had to be discontinued shortly after it was released.
Nintendo’s Labo launches on April 20, and while only a portion of the peripherals Nintendo showed off in their announcement video will be available by that date, fans will doubtlessly be clamoring to get their hands on the Japanese company’s bold new product. Nobody is exactly sure how these cardboard creations will work with the Nintendo Switch, but Labo may function similarly to Nintendo’s 1-2-Switch game, which largely focused on real-world interaction between players.
It may be important to speculate on the durability of this new product, however. Though it may bend and contort into all manner of fun objects, at the end of the day, Labo will likely be as fragile as cardboard. This is particularly troubling when considering that Nintendo will be asking $70 for Labo’s first pack, the contents of which we have yet to know. Parents typically aren’t concerned when their children play with cardboard, but if that cardboard comes at a steep price, they may reconsider. Plus, cardboard is notoriously difficult to keep in usable condition for long periods, and given Nintendo’s history of failing to meet consumer demand, it may be nearly impossible to get your hands on the Labo in the near future.
Nintendo’s upcoming product release certainly has the potential to be appreciated by Nintendo fans both young and old, but for now, our only recourse is to wait for April.