I really like interacting with the Nintendo Labo. I like popping, snapping, folding, and even just looking at each little piece. It’s gotten to the point that I’m having a hard time throwing any of it away.
Labo is a fascinating new Nintendo product that combines the Switch handheld system with a collection of cardboard-crafting projects. You build toys out of cardboard and place the Switch inside of them, and the Switch uses its camera and other sensors to interact with your new cardboard toys in silly ways. You can read our full review here.
Each Labo construction comes printed on a few large cardboard sheets, which are stored stacked inside the Labo box. Before you build something, you’ll have to pop its pieces out of the sheet, like this:
Popping a piece out of a Labo sheet feels extremely good. It’s crispy and clean, and the cardboard never gets stuck. (Everything about the Labo, from the box to the assembly to the actual finished products, is pleasantly tactile.)
Once you’ve popped a piece out of its sheet, there are often a couple of extra, smaller cardboard bits to pop out of the piece itself. Usually you have to open up a tab-hole, or make an opening to later fit in another part. Popping those smaller cardboard pieces out is also very satisfying.
You won’t need those extra little pieces for anything and can safely get rid of them. Thing is, they’re so cute-looking and neatly cut that it’s weirdly hard to throw them out.
Over the weekend I finished assembly on the Labo house, which was the first full Labo creation I’ve made. It was a fun process, and I’d say that I had more fun making the house than I’ve had messing around with it now that it’s done. (The house’s Switch “game,” which involves interacting with a room containing a silly little creature, is definitely the part of the overall experience most evidently designed for kids.)
The more progress I made on the house, the more my pile of little extra cardboard bits grew. As I neared the end, my girlfriend Emily came and sat at the table with me. She soon turned her attention to the small pile of scraps and began to stick them together to see what she could make. By the time I finished the house, she had completed a far more impressive patio set, built entirely out of cast-off extra pieces.
It was a perfect encapsulation of why I like those extra cardboard bits so much. They’re cute and varied, and each one even has its own little printed pattern. They don’t seem like junk; they seem like little entities unto themselves. Like each of the Labo’s primary pieces, they’re neat, cleanly cut, and visually appealing in an uncomplicated way.
When I was cleaning up after finishing the house, I brushed together all the extra cardboard scraps and moved to throw them away. Surely we wouldn’t need them, right? But… maybe we would? I put them in a little bowl just in case.
Nintendo has put a ton of care into every aspect of the Labo experience, from the instructional software all the way down to the tiniest extra pieces. As a result, I am now literally storing trash in a bowl on our dining room table.