The history of Nintendo is a long and storied account, too expansive to detail here. But it is one in which these pioneers of console gaming have continued to generate a dedicated following, that can all be accredited to their illustrious creativity. But you don’t adapt and progress as a company without making a few mistakes along the way and it’s clear that some of Nintendo’s more diverse propensities and curiosities if you will have been more malignant than others. We’ve lived through the battery devouring monstrosity that was the “Super Nintendo Scope”. The superfluous “Gameboy Camera”. The extravagant futility of a bongo peripheral that was purely exclusive to one game or the notorious, singular atrocity that was the “Power Glove”. A device so reviled that Satan departed Hell temporarily to obtain them as a torturing implement in Hell for anyone who had committed adultery, murder or worse, laughed at an episode of Family Guy. Yet despite the peaks and troughs of Nintendo’s creative dissonance, “Labo” is the most Nintendo thing Nintendo have ever done. Simultaneously creative, yet absurdly mystifying, with the potential to flourish or collapse like a literal cardboard box under a child’s foot. I didn’t think it was possible but somehow, someway Nintendo have quite simply out Nintendo’ed themselves!
Labo, short for “Labo…….rious assembly of feeble materials that will collapse faster than a British made deck chair” is a corrugated accessory for the Switch. Presumably the brainchild of an actual child’s mind, that is both diverse enough to inspire intrigue yet so abstract that it encourages debilitating confusion amongst its peers. Enabling kids to construct and decorate their assembled Switch appendage is an appealing concept for a child, in much the same way as Lego inspires creation. As a kid you would often build forts and swords out of discarded boxes, but as an adult this kind of whimsical activity is far less auspicious.
The very notion of having to assemble a fully functioning utility, to required specifications is just torture to someone of my negligent persuasion. Following basic instructions or worse a diagram, forget it! I’d start beginning sentences like the Joker, asking “You want to know how I got these scars?…..from trying to assemble an IKEA cabinet!” I couldn’t even assemble my daughters wardrobe without having spare screws scattered amongst the beaten and smashed styrophone packaging I’d frustratingly assaulted during construction.
It’s also worth noting that this is an accessory primarily geared towards children, the most potently destructive force ever compressed into such a compact little organism. They will stubbornly dismiss all of your cautions to implore restraint or be careful of the environment, and by extension any inanimate objects that surround them. So I find it difficult that these vulnerable pieces, unless tempered with adamantium will survive the fierce temperaments of a child’s energetic exertions.
I will however concede that there is something inherently whimsical about building something from scratch. Whether that is into serviceable representation of sword or indeed a makeshift Fort, fashioned from the sofa cushions. This is the kind of inspiration I would have absorbed from watching Neil Buchanan on Art Attack. Something that I would immediately want to replicate at home because crafting was as fun as the end result. The Labo is appealing yet problematic and for better or worse only a product Nintendo could have concocted. I mean honestly could you imagine Sony or Microsoft attempting to market this same concept with any serious conviction? You’d think they were deranged?! Yet somehow this kind of insane proposal seems to make sense when it’s Nintendo. Don’t ever change!