In Depth

Nintendo Labo reviews: the cardboard kits with ‘a huge amount of depth’

Cardboard kits allow users to build their own Switch accessories, but will it win over gamers?

Nintendo is known for finding unusual ways for people to interact with computer games - and its new Labo kits are no exception. 

Revealed at the Japanese firm’s product conference in January, the Labo kits are a range of cardboard gaming accessories designed to interact with the all-in-one Switch console

Each kit comes with a selection of different sets to construct, ranging from small cardboard bugs to a makeshift virtual reality (VR) suit. Once the kits have been assembled, players insert the Nintendo Labo game cartridge into their Switch and place the console either inside - or on top of - their chosen set.  

Here’s everything you need to know about the Nintendo Labo kits ahead of their release next week.

When does it come out?

The first batch of Labo kits are now available, but Tech Advisor says the cardboard accessory is an “ongoing project” and that more additions to the line-up will be on offer later this year.

How much do the sets cost?

There’s a range of kits to choose from, with prices from £8.99 to £69.99. You’ll also need a Nintendo Switch, which can be found on Amazon for £279, before you can start using the cardboard kits. 

What do the kits do?

Just about anything, it seems, but you’ll only be able to choose between three products at launch. These include the Variety Kit, the Robot Kit and the Customisation Set. 

The £59.99 Variety Kit comes with five sets for gamers to build, says Business Insider, which include a remote-controlled car and a model motorbike. There’s also a makeshift piano that helps users learn how to play the instrument. 

Next up is the £69.99 Robot Kit, allowing you to control a virtual android using a system of “pulleys and levers”, says Pocket Gamer. Users manoeuvre the on-screen robot with a pair of handheld controllers, which are attached by rope to a control system housed in a cardboard backpack. The system even comes with a makeshift VR headset. 

The final, and cheapest, entry into the line-up is the £8.99 Customisation Set. This pack lets you build smaller sets, such as a bug that moves around using the vibration feature on the Nintendo Switch’s controllers. 

What do the critics think?

Pocket-Lint argues that it’s “hard to appraise” the Labo kits because they are “so different” to any other gaming accessory on the market. 

Despite the unusual nature of the products, the tech site says the cardboard sets will certainly appeal to those who enjoy making gaming accessories as much as they like playing games. 

What makes the Labo kits stand out from other gaming accessories is that they have “a lot of educational potential”, TechRadar claims, as the sets wouldn’t “look out of place in classrooms”. 

That’s partly because the sets can teach children how to learn new skills such as programming and building, the website says. The kits also don’t offer the “instant gratification” that players get with conventional plug-in-and-play video games. 

But a warning for parents: Stuff suggests children may need the supervision of an adult, since there’s “tantrum potential” with some of the more complicated kits.  The fishing rod set, available in the Variety Kit, may “turn short-on-patience players” into “screaming demons”, the tech site adds. 

At least the assembly instructions are packed with detail, says IGN. The guide is available in the form of a digital instructions manual, which can be accessed through the Switch console itself. 

On the negative side, some of the assembly kits that can “feel a bit repetitive”, the games site says. The piano set, for example, requires users to “tediously mass-produce” 13 small keys that are intricately connected to the body of the piano. 

There’s no need to fear if  one of the cardboard elements gets damaged during assembly, however, as Nintendo provides players with a small set of replacement parts with each kit, says Kotaku.

More creative players can even turn these replacement pieces into their own build, with Kotaku creating a patio set for the cardboard house kit using spare parts alone.  

Players will feel rewarded once they’ve finished constructing one of the larger sets, which can take up to four hours to complete, provided they are willing to set time aside to build the kits, says Tech Advisor.

Although some gamers have expressed “doubts” over the play value of the kits, the Labo creations offer “a huge amount of depth” that should occupy players for hours, the site concludes. 

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