Nintendo Labo is a gaming and construction toy platform developed by Nintendo to be used with the Nintendo Switch gaming system, which will be released in April 2018. The platform uses kits that include cardboard cut-outs and other materials that are to be assembled in combination with the Nintendo Switch console display and Joy-Con controllers to create “Toy-Cons” that can interact with game software and vice versa. Nintendo designed them as a way to teach principles of engineering and physics.
Nintendo Labo is released as individual Labo Kits, each containing a set of pre-made cardboard cut-outs and other materials, used to make “Toy-Cons”, and a Nintendo Switch game card, which contains interactive instructions on how to assemble the Toy-Cons and software that the Toy-Cons can interact with. Once each Toy-Con is constructed, players insert the main Nintendo Switch display and/or one or both of the Joy-Con controllers according to the instructions. Each Toy-Con functions differently in the ways it interacts with either the Joy-Cons or the main display. For example, a piano Toy-Con can read the Right Joy-Con controllers infrared sensor to identify notes being played, while robotic Toy-Cons move using HD Rumble from the Joy-Con controllers, which are controlled via the touchscreen. Players may freely decorate the cardboard parts using coloring pens, tape, and other materials, while more experienced users can invent new ways to play with each Toy-Con.
Two Labo Kits have currently been announced for launch on April 20, 2018, in North America, Australia, and Japan and on April 27, 2018, in Europe. An accessory set containing stencils, stickers, and tape will be available separately.
The Variety Kit contains kits for five individual Toy-Cons:
- A remote-controlled car, where the vibrations from the Joy-Con serve to provide momentum and steering to the car. The game software allows the player to control the car like a normal remote-controlled vehicle.
- A fishing rod where the Joy-Con sits on the reel and the handle of the rod. The game receives motion input from the Joy-Con to simulate a fishing game.
- A toy piano with a full octave of keys; the console sits atop this to serve as a music stand.
- A motorbike with Joy-Con inserted into the handlebars on either side of the Console for steering.
- A house containing a slot to insert different components that can interact with the game software on the Console’s display.
The Robot Kit includes parts to make a mecha suit that includes a visor which holds the Switch and a backpack that holds the Joy-Con. This allows the player to rampage through a virtual world presented on the console’s screen. Journalists noted similarities between this Kit and Project Giant Robot, a software title for the Wii U that had players use the motion sensing of the Wii U GamePad to control a robot and rampage through a city. Project Giant Robot was teased during E3 2014 and believed to be tied to Star Fox Zero, but was ultimately canceled by Nintendo.
While Nintendo has not confirmed any additional Toy-Con kits, journalists observed that other Toy-Con configurations were shown in the announce trailer, suggesting that additional kits may be announced at a later date.