Last month, Nintendo pulled a Nintendo and unexpectedly unveiled a whole new way of play with the Switch, integrating the system with buildable cardboard props for little kids to experience new kinds of games. This new innovation is called the Nintendo Labo. Whether it's a fishing game, a working cardboard piano, or even a VR robot game, it shows just how modular the Switch really is and how vast Nintendo's imagination really is. While it might be a surprise for a lot of people, Nintendo has always been a brand that's focused on fun and have been making toys for over a century now.
Nintendo started out in 1889 with Hanafuda cards, a type of Japanese playing cards and have climbed their way up since then. While not exactly "cardboard", it certainly shows that the trademark Nintendo charm has been around for a century or so and will continue with the Labo. These cards came in a wide variety of colors and design, which certainly showed off Nintendo's charm and style from way back when.
In the 1960s, Nintendo manufactured toys for children, emphasizing and honing in that state of imaginative play that only kids could do. As you can see in the image above, Nintendo has always been a fan of stylish writing, cool pastel colors, and yes, packaging things in cardboard as well. Here's hoping they'll release Joycons in this coloring.
Another blink and you'll miss it moment from the trailer is an upcoming Labo configuration that seems to be a reference to one of Nintendo's best-selling toys in the 60s, the Ultra-hand. This also confirms that more Toy-cons will be coming after the initial 2 games.
The modularity of the Joycons that depend on the game played also harkens back to the customizable add-ons for the Wiimote, making you really feel like swinging a tennis racket in Wii Sports or really steering a wheel in Mario Kart.
After the success of the Nintendo Entertainment system, Nintendo focused on video game hardware and software for the next few decades, their glorious return to making first-party toys came in 2014, with the introduction of Amiibo. These little Near Field Communication enabled plastic statuettes can activate a number of things on Nintendo's first party titles while also acting as toys for kids to play outside of video games.
While all the games look fun and brilliant, the one that stood out the most is the Robot Labo game, which some fans noted was a recycling of the Project Giant Robot demo showed off by Miyamoto himself a few E3s ago. This game is definitely a must-have for Nintendo Switch owners, especially it features a giant robot (which is controlled by your actual body movements by the way), destroying a city, and you can even transform Optimus Prime-style, to quickly get around the world map.
Overall, this is a step in the right direction for Nintendo. With the Switch quickly rising to the top to be the undisputed handheld-console hybrid champion, this added modularity of the entire console shows that Nintendo is having another renaissance on their hands. Expect to see this innovation on store shelves in April of 2018. Also check out Before Mario, a blog documenting Nintendo's past as a toy manufacturer.