In a totally unexpected move, Nintendo surprised gamers today by unveiling new cardboard accessories which interact with games for its Switch console. We're excited not only for something fresh from the company, but also by the idea that they haven't just added more useless plastic swag that will clog our oceans and landfills.
Nintendo Labo features cardboard sheets that users can pop out and fold into everything from motorbike handles to fishing rods and a miniature piano. You then insert the Switch’s detachable Joy Con controllers, and start playing.
Focusing on physical ways to interact with software sets Nintendo apart in a gaming market where moeny is mostly made by tapping a smartphone screen. The move is also a nod to the Wii a decade ago, which got gamers off the sofa to swing controllers and play virtual tennis and bowling.
Nintendo Labo will initially come in two sets that go on sale April 20: the Variety Kit (US$70) and the Robot Kit (US$80 each). The first includes “parts” for remote-controlled cars, a fishing rod, house, motorbike and piano, while the second allows you to build a robot suit.
Nintendo has a history of releasing physical accessories for its consoles, including Amiibo figurines for the Wii U, and steering wheels and fishing rods for the Wii. And Nintendo has long hinted the Switch would get a bunch of accessories.
Nintendo isn’t alone in introducing physical accessories that interact with software. A year ago, rival Sony unveiled Project Field, a lightweight device the size of a kitchen cutting board that connects to real-world objects so they can be used for controlling games on smartphones and tablets.
Google has also embraced cardboard, with an assemble-yourself viewer that turns smartphones into virtual-reality goggles.
We're counting down to April already ...