Nintendo is actually trying to sell cardboard to people and it's kind of amazing
Nintendo, for all their blunders and missteps over theirs years as a video game developer, have always had one goal: to innovate. Maybe not in software, if the New Super Mario Bros. series is any indication, but definitely in hardware and peripherals. The only reason people in the US even were interested in the Nintendo Entertainment System at launch was because it was marketed not as a disgusting games console, but as an entertainment system with a goofy robot and a light gun game packaged in. I’ve always respected Nintendo, even when they send projects out to die due to bad marketing, naming, lack of support from third parties, and strange decisions made by the suits at Nintendo because of this innovative spirit. VR is the new hotness, but way back when it was the old-new hotness, Nintendo was at the front delivering the worst possible VR experience anyone could have anticipated. Okay, so the Virtual Boy was a mistake. But, for every mistake, they have a huge hit with the Nintendo Wii or, recently, the Nintendo Switch. So, now that the Switch is raking in that dollar dollar, what will Nintendo do next? What peripherals will they create to support the wide range of functions that can be performed by the Joycons?
Nintendo decided that to think outside of the box, they’d need to understand the box. What makes the box, how the box operates, and how they can use the box. They then cut the box, made cutouts within the box, and are now going to sell the box and some rubber bands within another box for $70. And it’s kind of amazing.
If you haven’t seen it, on the day I’m writing this, Nintendo announced the Nintendo Labo. Nintendo Labo is a series of cardboard with pre-cutouts that you follow instructions to put together into a fishing pole or a piano or a robot backpack. It reminds me of when I went to Steak and Shake and got the little car cardboard cutout with the kids menu that you have to fold and create a car with. That was, of course, only three months ago because I am a sad, pathetic, man child.
The cardboard Nintendo is selling isn’t just cardboard peripherals you have to construct for $70. I don’t think Nintendo would be that stupid or ambitious. The Nintendo Labo also comes with a number of packed in pieces of software, each one corresponding with a specific cardboard construction. Each peripheral has slots that you place the Joycons in, and somehow the Joycons can do things like tell a little cardboard RC car to go forward when you control it with the tablet screen of the Switch itself. I’m not quite sure how, though the peripherals are surprisingly complex contraptions with a number of rubber bands for maximum quality. I’m just going to assume Nintendo is performing actual witchcraft, as Nintendo does. Of course, once you construct these cardboard peripherals, you can personalize them with markers and stickers or whatever. If I were designing one, I’d probably paint hot rod flames on the RC car. Or maybe bunnies. Or, to find a balance, bunnies INSIDE the hot rod flames. Shut up, at least the bunnies are on fire.
If you understood that sick reference, then there’s a good chance you aren’t the market for this product. During the announcement for the announcement, Nintendo made it clear it was designed for younger kids. It serves as inspiration for kids to get into engineering, spurring their creativity similarly to that of Lego (or maybe Minecraft for the kids of today). Just looking at some of the peripherals, my big meaty claws would probably snap them in half by accident, or I’d break a string or rubber band, or I’d break the thing trying to build it. Younger kids, however, probably wouldn’t have as many problems. Of course, they’d still break because children find a way to destroy everything. In terms of breaking it through gameplay though, maybe they wouldn’t break them so easily. I’d hope not, considering it costs $70 dollars. Or does it?
The ingenious thing to me about the Nintendo Labo is the fact that the pieces of the peripherals can be easily replaced using other pieces of cardboard, or string, or rubber bands. Well, maybe not easily, but it’s definitely possible. So kids who inevitably break everything they love will be able to have their new cardboard robot backpack repaired with relative ease, assuming the broken parts aren’t too essential to the function of the peripheral. A parent with a bit of technical knowhow should be able to put it back together. In theory, of course. I wouldn’t be able to put it together because I can’t even construct a bowl of Kraft Mac and Cheese, but other people might be able to. Perhaps even the kids themselves can rebuild their toys. They have the technology, the ultimate power of cardboard! Plus, Nintendo also said they would give replacement cardboard sheets as well, so it’s not a complete loss.
Nintendo may not have announced the virtual console, or the internet browser, or Mother 3 (it’s not happening, give it up), but they did announce something that I have to admit looks pretty cool. If I was a small bab with a Nintendo Switch, I’d 100% want the robot pack because even manchild me kind of wants it. It’s a smart way to do peripherals that can be customized, destroyed, and rebuilt with relative ease. It’s not a bad idea, and the fact they announced this doesn’t mean virtual console is dead, so stop complaining, and don’t email me with complaints.
At the very least, scalpers will now be able to scalp LITERAL CARDBOARD, a step above scalping Mario cereal. On top of that, this is the first recorded instance of actual hack fraud Michael Pachter being correct in a prediction about the games industry. So that means the apocalypse is finally upon us. Remember to buy Nintendo Labo on 4/20 for $69.99 before the world collapses, everyone!
Images: Twitter, LRM Online
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