Nintendo Labo Overview: A Parent’s Perspective

Nintendo Labo

Weird, quirky, and cardboard are the defining traits of the Labo development kit. Nintendo’s latest brainchild is a combination of model kits, infrared sensors, game development, and a desire to spend countless hours building a miniature piano or a house, or whatever. But, what exactly is Labo? Is it fun? Will a five-year-old kid like it? Well, I sat down with my son, and with the variety kit in hand, we set out to build a house and a literal remote control car to find out whether it’s enjoyable or not.

Let’s not mince words here; the Labo took the world by surprise. Nintendo took a risk by creating a game that involved cardboard and plenty of skeptics came out of the woodwork to criticize such an idea. How dare Nintendo sell us pieces of cardboard? Do they think we’re children? Who would spend $70.00 dollars on such nonsense we claimed! People were calling for the head of Nintendo’s leadership in a platter. In fact, admittedly, I was also on the fence about the subject, but strictly on the skeptics’ side. It wasn’t until I bought my kid his own console that I started to see it as an opportunity to bond with him over model building.

You see, unlike I was; plenty of other players were sitting on the hopeful side of the fence. Model kit enthusiast was definitely one of the markets, but so were parents with similar ideas to mine. Once Labo hit the markets and people discovered they could potentially develop their own games with the programming system, it gained another market with experimental developers, and other creative types. Simply put, the game tackles a variety of niche markets instead of just one. Nintendo hit the ball out of the park by creating something that numerous smallish groups will use for their own distinct reasons. Similar to how the Wii Sports on the Nintendo Wii reached a huge audience the Nintendo Switch has managed to do the same with the Labo Development Kit and that might just be the secret to its success.

But, it’s not just about targeting a group of people and hoping it sells, as a good game still has to be enjoyable in order to garner sales. But, is Labo enjoyable? Is it a good game and not just a development kit? The answer is plain and simple, yes, yes it is! You can do plenty of things with the Labo especially if you have multiple sets of controllers in the house. You can race cars against each other, you can play in the house with the multiple buttons and arrange to win some sweet candies, play piano together, or even play Mario Kart with the latest update. It’s simply a joy to share together with your kids, especially if they’re into building and creativity; the Labo Development Kit is almost up there with the likes of Minecraft in terms of simplistic fun.

However, that isn’t to say that you’ll be building everything within the timespan of a few hours, and call it quits. While the instructions are simple and have a great sense of humor to keep you entertained during the process, a few of the kits are fairly complicated and required some delicate hands along with a few hours of your day to craft. You should not get into Labo if you’re not the type to set aside time with your kids and instruct them carefully while they help you build the models.

You’ll soon find yourselves enjoying your final product as you marvel at the hand crafted miniature piano that you built together and took anywhere from three to six hours (depending on the age of the children) in order to finish, yet the feeling of pride and accomplishment that comes with completion is just wonderful. Furthermore, the ability to paint the cardboard just opens up more possibilities for creating an unique product out of an already established cutout. Yet, what can be said about the product quality itself?

Well, as I mentioned earlier, the Labo is a seventy dollar kit that comes with a game and the numerous cardboard cutouts for each of the models. This basically means you’re paying for a full price game and ten dollars for the rest of the items included which are: the infrared stickers, cardboard, plastic bits for the fishing rod and such, and a few more items. Do I think it was worth the price? Yes, I do. The cardboard is pretty durable; there were plenty of times I found myself being gentler than I should have been. In fact, when the eleven-year-old daughter of a family friend came over, she joined us in building one of the kits, the girl wasn’t as gentle as my son or me and the cardboard still held strong.

You’ll pretty much have to be aiming to break it in order to rip it apart as Nintendo made the product with children in mind. Additionally, if you do break it by accident, the Labo comes with a few spare parts that you can take out to replace them (but, they’re limited so be mindful). Admittedly, I found myself enjoying the building process more than my kid at points because five-year-olds have very short attention spans and he had buildings to destroy in Minecraft.

Now I have to mention a few things before anyone goes out and buys the product and potentially ends up disappointed. Labo is not for everyone, your kids might not resonate with it like mine did, and in those cases, you might find yourself building the kits by yourself… but, don’t despair. You will certainly get a degree of enjoyment.

Furthermore, you’ll have to make time to create these models. There will be plenty of times you’ll find yourself coming back home from work tired, but if you don’t set time aside to build the kits (even gradually), they’ll sit there collecting dust. Of course, I understand that it also depends on your parenting style. I’m very involved in the life of my son and as such, I participate in a lot of his gaming habits (that is on top of the other numerous activities we do together).

You might find that the Labo does not fit your lifestyle and that is fine too. Just make sure you come prepared to spend time crafting your own fishing rod, and don’t fret too much if you mess up. Remember that you can always rewind the instructions if something doesn’t make sense, and keep an open heart and mind while you patiently wait to grab your kids’ attention after they’ve run off. Definitely worth the price of admission, The Nintendo Labo Kits are available now through almost any certified retailer.