The reason that horror games don’t scare me is because I grew up playing video games. For decades I’ve consumed so many games, and watched as developers evolved their various tool-kits and bags of tricks. Horror games don’t scare me because I’m able to analyze them as games. At this point, nothing surprises me anymore, which is precisely why I’ve been so blown away by Nintendo Labo. Take a look at the new overview trailer for the Labo Variety kit. You can find a separate trailer for the robot kit here, but right now I want to focus on the footage above.
Did you watch it? Did you digest everything? Are you as blown away as I am by how creative and how versatile this kit is going to be? Everyone who complained that Nintendo was selling us $70 cardboard when Labo was first revealed should be feasting on some crow right about now, because in this author’s opinion, this is perhaps the coolest innovation the industry has seen since, well, the launch of the Nintendo Switch.
This overview does give us some critical new insight into a few of the games that we weren’t totally sold on at first. The house, for example, looks like it crams in an entire suite of mini-games, which is exciting. The motorcycle game is much more ambitious than we anticipated, and I was blown away to see that players will be able to form their own custom terrain by scanning things with the Joy-Con’s IR camera. The biggest surprise, though, is the Toy-Con piano, which continues to steal the show.
I was grinning ear-to-ear for the entire segment. As a musician, I can’t get over how versatile and educational this thing is. Using the Joy-Con’s unique vibratory patterns to create music by making an empty box vibrate? Cutting out your own wave patterns to create new tones? Using cardboard punch-card to create your own rhythm patterns?! You have to be freaking kidding me. This thing is going to set the imaginations of kids and adults everywhere on fire, and I can’t tell you how excited I am about that.
Nintendo is so at peace with its own identity right now. It knows that it’s more than a video game company, and with Labo, we see Nintendo working confidently across markets to establish itself as a creator of innovative toys, a publisher of surprising games, and a curator of unexpected experiences. Labo is going to remind kids that anything is possible when they use their imaginations, and it’s reminding adult gamers like me that Nintendo is capable of anything because the people who work there aren’t afraid to use their imaginations.
In an age of live services, loot boxes, and by-the-numbers sequels, please don’t fail to appreciate Labo for the bold and audacious experiment that it is. This is the kind of thing that sparks change and evolution, and we get to be a part of it.