Here’s a thing about me: I don’t like video games. No, wait, that’s not entirely true. I spent a sizeable chunk of my teen years with Mario, Luigi and Duck Hunt, and I was unreasonably proud of my Mortal Kombat skills #fatality
But things have changed and honestly, today’s games scare me. Sarge and I decided a while ago that we wouldn’t be encouraging our kids to play video games at all. We wouldn’t be buying a console and we wouldn’t be introducing them to games on the computer or iPad.
Yeah, I know, we sound super fun, but we figured there are better things kids could be doing with their brains than trying to slaughter characters on a screen.
AND YET: here I am, telling you to try the Nintendo Switch #hypocritealert
I know, I know, I don’t know who I am anymore either. But I just didn’t expect a video game system to be so much more than a screen… hear me out.
The Nintendo Switch by itself is pretty brilliant and will do what any serious gamer wants. It’s a handheld device AND a home console, so it’s actually two devices in one. You can play at home on the big screen or you can take the handheld with you and play it on the go. It’s pretty much everything you’d need, as far as I can tell.
But that’s not the really cool part. That’s not the part that made me want to try this system. Nintendo Labo is what changed everything for me.
Nintendo Labo is a new product line for Nintendo Switch and the best way I can describe it is: it’s like a STEM lesson rolled into an art class that turns into a video game. Confused?
Ok, it’s like a construction set that comes to life. No?
It’s like a crafternoon puzzle club for computer coders.
Ok, I even lost myself there…. basically, you take some cardboard, turn it into a toy and then bring it to life with a video game. Got it? But that’s only the first step.
Thud and I started with the motorbike from the Nintendo Labo Variety Kit because MOTORBIKE. The Variety Kit also includes four other “Toy-Con” projects – the RC Car, Fishing Rod, House and Piano.
I was pretty sure the construction part would be a bit tricky for him so he commandeered the console and guided me through the ‘MAKE’ section of the game. Every step is set out really clearly using the software on Nintendo Switch; so as long as you have reasonable dexterity, anyone can do it.
Of course, I soldiered on through approximately 40 minutes of whining because he wanted a go, and me telling him to just watch please and “oh you’re being SO helpful with the instructions”… until I gave in and handed it over. Naturally, he was perfectly capable and I spent the next 40 minutes feeling like garbage because I’d not only underestimated him but I’d stolen all the fun for myself. But damn he was proud of himself.
As soon as we finished, he begged to make the fishing rod. WITHOUT EVEN PLAYING THE MOTORBIKE GAME. I’m not sure he fully realised there was a video game component. He just REALLY liked the building part. Which is fair enough because there is a certain level of smug satisfaction you get when you see the final product #ifisaysomyself
It all sounds fun in theory, but what really blew me away is: it all works. The motorbike steers and rides like a motorbike. The fishing rod casts off into the ocean, you feel a fish tug at the line and you reel it back up. The piano PLAYS REAL MUSIC.
The extras are where it’s at. You can play the game and that’s all fine, but if you want to, you can discover and learn how it all works. You can see how the Joy-Con controllers know when you’re popping a wheelie on the motorbike, you learn how the IR camera sees what’s going on inside the house, you learn how to create your own music. And, if you’re really clever, you can create your own Toy-Con creations and code your own games using Toy-Con Garage (an additional program included in all Nintendo Labo software). So the benefits of the kit don’t just stop when you’ve finished building.
Oh and if you’re so inclined, you can totally pimp out your Toy-Con with your own craft materials (it is cardboard after all – very easy to decorate!). I might have spent more time than I care to admit turning the house into my dream home. Sparkly pink roof, weatherboard cladding, white picket fence and all.
So, yes, here I am, the anti-gamer, gushing about a video game. In my defence, I didn’t expect to be so genuinely impressed with how much thought has gone into this little kit to make it educational, family friendly and indisputably FUN. Nintendo Labo feels like the perfect compromise between what kids want and what parents are comfortable with.
Nintendo Labo is out now, exclusively for Nintendo Switch. There are currently two kits available; the Nintendo Labo Variety Kit – which we showcased in this post – as well as the Nintendo Labo Robot Kit for more advanced builders. Each Nintendo Labo kit contains everything you need to build your Toy-Con projects…no glue or scissors required (just BYO Nintendo Switch!).
The Nintendo Switch console was loaned to our family for the purposes of this review. This is a sponsored post but the opinions are all my own. And Thud’s.