Nintendo Labo

Nintendo released Labo this week. A pairing of the highly successful Nintendo Switch and a box of cardboard.

Now that is simplistic, but if you order Labo, you receive a rather large (24 x 24ish), 2” thick box filled with flat cardboard (and a Switch cartridge). Your job is to MAKE the bits and pieces to complete the accessories.

First, love the idea! Leverage a rather unassuming “game device” with a ton of built-in cool tech and expose kids to not just playing but doing! Now, the rub.

Nintendo states on the box, for ages 6+. Accurate but think of this, a 6 or 10 year old cannot wait to get their hands on something and start playing (instant gratification much?), you open the Labo, pop in the cartridge and select “MAKE”. Easy right? The “simplest” item to make is the RC Car (estimate of about 10 minutes) which I would say is accurate. The fishing pole, driving game and others estimate about 2 HOURS!

I have a 7th and 8th grader at home and we tried last night with RC Car. After popping in the cartridge, I could not see the screen, what they were clicking or anything, but they got it done (in about 10 minutes). No crying, no snatching and no ripped cardboard, success! Now what…

Well, I also have adventurous boys and since this “project” did not count against their electronics allowance — they milked it for all it was worth. We (they) found a “discover” section of the app which took the RC Car and offered other tasks and methods of using the car and various sensors. The “joy-con” (removable controllers) that are used on the “car” also include a camera (among other surprises) and can “auto-drive” to a reflective flag. Neat to see the system move and wiggle to the finishline.

I’m reviewing the Labo as a parent, technologist and educator — please keep that in mind.

[4 out of 5] As a parent, cool hack for anyone that already has a Nintendo Switch and kids 10+ years old (with a reasonable attention span).

[4 out of 5] As a technologist, the rethinking of this “toy” is great! I was happily surprised and intrigued to find some of the tech right in this hand-held device.

[3 out of 5] As an educator, the tasks take too long, would require a bunch of devices and the cardboard is a great idea but will not last too long. Something will get ripped or lost quickly.

Overall — 3.5

NOTE: I have read that there are PDF versions of the instructions so if there was a MAKER Club (say 2 hours in the afternoon), students could follow the PDF instructions, build the cardboard item and then trade off with the Switch to play and test their construction.

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Technology professional

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Scott Adamson

Scott Adamson

Technology professional

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