Gimmicks aren’t all inherently bad. They can be fresh and fun ways to liven up an experience, but they can also completely destroy one. As their systems get older, Nintendo commonly leans into gimmicks. The motion control of the Wii, the handheld nature of the Switch, and the Wii U being bad are all prime examples of their favorite practice. Nintendo is constantly putting out peripherals. The Wii wheel is the most popular, but the Switch has seen its share. None of these cheap toys so infamous as the time Nintendo decided to sell children cardboard for $70.
Kids love building things! There’s a reason LEGO has remained so popular for generations. Nintendo wants a slice of every pie they can see. Even if it means they don’t ask what’s in the pie. Being the only true commercial failure Nintendo has seen in the Switch life-cycle, I’d compare Nintendo LABO to a kid seeing a cookie and biting into it before reeling back in disgust that it was raisin and not chocolate chip. When I first saw Nintendo LABO I said “no” and ignored it until it hit the clearance bins set up at the end of the clearance aisle at Wal-Mart. Is LABO really so bad that Greg at Wal-Mart won’t even put it on the shelf?
The joy of LEGO is being a quick and easy toy to put together. Any kid can grab a set and have it done by dinner. Nintendo LABO is the exact opposite of this. LABO is an extreme evolution of paper-craft. To build, you must go through the LABO software included. Not giving paper-instructions, or a digital version on their site is incredibly stupid. Having to use the Switch to build these is just annoying.
The building process in general was annoying. The instructions will CONSTANTLY stop for creasing and folding, something you’ll need to do with bigger pieces, but focuses on every last crease. There’s no way to skip or speed through it. It just got tedious and annoying. The extra connectors, string, and rubber bands involved with the building was a challenge. I enjoy putting together a tough model kit or LEGO set, but a kid can’t do this alone. Especially with cardboard.
The Nintendo LABO VR Kit Starter Set comes with the headset itself and a blaster. The VR works surprisingly well. Nintendo pulls off the illusion with grace. The blaster manages to have a clicking and firing sound. If I didn’t have to hold the VR headset to my face, I might’ve been able to enjoy it.
The LABO software itself is very limited. There are quite a few games, but all of them are short and repetitive. The joy of LABO VR comes from its inclusion in other big Nintendo titles. You can play the entirety of Breath of the Wild in VR, mess around in a small sandbox of Super Mario Odyssey, and view Smash Ultimate battles like you’ve never seen them before. It was incredibly interesting, but nothing more than an hour spent looking at it.
I have never seen the appeal of LABO itself. I couldn’t bring myself to give it a shot until I could pick it up with the money I found on the street that morning. The experience was, at best, mediocre. Nintendo LABO is now a fleeting dream of innovation from the minds that brought you 1-2 Switch, Sushi Striker, and Yoshi’s Crafted World. Not a high bar.