Stay on target Trade In Your Nintendo Switch For a Better Battery (With a Catch)Controller Patent Teases SNES Games on Switch We’ve been messing with the cardboard contraptions of Nintendo Labo for over a week now. And honestly, our opinions haven’t changed that much since our first big hands-on with the Nintendo Switch DIY toys a few months ago. That’s said, we do have some new observations worth sharing now that you can pick up Labo for yourself.After folding countless boxes, I can never look at a normal pizza box the same way again. All of that folding also gave me so much more respect for the designers at Nintendo. The cardboard itself is more durable than I first feared. I gradually grew more comfortable folding more aggressively and shoving the piano in my bookbag. But really it’s the designs of creations themselves that “kid-proof” them. Along with the ingenious spring mechanisms and reflective IR tape, just the way the designs are constructed involves so many interlocking pieces and walls reinforcing other walls to help maintain the shape. It’s so much sturdier than it has any right to be.The minigames have the amount of depth I expected, which is to say not that much. There are lots of appreciated Nintendo weird touches. Who else would think to let players scan their hands to create race tracks? But it’s in the building where the fun, and time commitment, really is. Building everything in the Variety Kit or the Robot Kit easily lasts as many hours as a modern AAA game, especially for a slow, small child. So calm down about the price.The most promising part of Nintendo Labo to me is still the intro to coding and robotics creation that is Toy-Con Garage. There’s so much potential here, both for educators and for adult tinkerers, that it’s kind of wild to me that Nintendo hasn’t been leaning on this feature more. The text, while excessive, is an entertaining and accessible way to wrap your head around the sheer amount of creative cardboard freedom Labo can offer you. The Professor’s name is Gerry Rigg, he of the famous Mod. I can’t wait to see this scene fully blossom.After this extended testing, the biggest knock against Nintendo Labo (besides the focus on the younger audience but that’s not really a flaw) is the gulf in customization options. You can draw on Toy-Con and tape accessories or whatever, but you can’t really deviate from Nintendo’s pre-built, Gundam-like designs. Toy-Con Garage, meanwhile, lets you do whatever you want, but it’s so open-ended it can be overwhelming. There’s no middle-ground equivalent to, say, breaking apart a Lego model and rebuilding it into something else.Still Nintendo Labo is a fascinating product we can’t wait to see the gaming and DIY communities start to seriously mess around with. Labo life hacks are going to be out of this world. Keep reading for more impressions.Check out this awesome new #NintendoLabo commercial! pic.twitter.com/USJhZJ1yAT— Jordan Minor (@JordanWMinor) April 28, 2018Nintendo has said again and again that Nintendo Labo, its upcoming line for DIY cardboard accessories for Nintendo Switch, is for kids. Despite inviting a group of mostly (but not entirely) adult games journalist to a Labo hands-on event in New York, the demo space was made to look like an elementary school complete with goofy name tags, colorful markers, and tins full of snacks.Following elaborate E3 booths for Zelda and Mario, Nintendo has really perfected using a physical space itself to get you in the proper mindset for its digital software. But beneath the childish presentation, and child-targeted audience, it’s clear now that Labo is one of Nintendo savviest, most sophisticated ideas yet.If you need a refresher, Nintendo Labo is an upcoming series of cardboard accessories that become smart “Toy-Con” toys by interacting with the Switch tablet and “Joy-Con” controllers through a game. To understand the process, we quickly built a pair of simple six-legged “RC cars” and then spent an hour building a fishing rod. Both processes involved popping out the pre-cut cardboard pieces and folding them according to instructions displayed on the Switch tablet. It’s like Zoids or Gundams or other Japanese model kits.These interactive manuals are incredibly helpful, full of detailed animations and multiple navigation options to make sure every step is clear. Most cardboard pieces have perforations to fold along and the screen shows you every single one. It reminded me of Super Mario Maker in how it makes a potentially complex creation experience fun and intuitive. However, for more advanced users I do wish there were ways to speed up instructions or perhaps view multiple steps at once for when multiple people like siblings or whole families are collaborating on a single Toy-Con.Meanwhile, the Toy-Con are just a blast to fold and build. They’re pretty sturdy so it takes some effort but it really is satisfying in a Lego way when everything pops into place, keeping its shape with tabs and whatnot. Slotting the Joy-Con into the RC car is mushy compared to the clean click of the console, but it’s still neat. Seeing just how we were supposed to insert each telescoping piece of the fishing rod, including strings and rubber bands and pieces solely designed to make clicking noises like a baseball card in a bike spoke, led to frequent “Eureka!” moments. The engineering is so smart. Again, it’s like Lego blocks, but arguably more surprising since the source material, cardboard, is more humble.That said, this really is just cardboard. Not special super-strong Nintendo cardboard, but cardboard. Toys that easily degrade may be better for the environment, but we have moderate concerns about durability after holding this cardboard in our hands. You can hang onto your original sheets to use as stencils for cutting out new pieces for any old cardboard. But we do hope Nintendo has a reasonable replacement policy. Besides, the potentially lengthy build process is such a nifty slow burn that we’d hate for it to be over after one sitting.Once the Toy-Con are built you can customize then with arts and crafts classics like crayons and stickers and tape. But eventually you’ll want to actually play with them. Each Toy-Con has a corresponding minigame that really shows off the potential of what the Switch can do. The RC cars use HD rumble to vibrate in such a way that players can control their movement path. Use the tablet to alter speed and direction. Even crazier, the IR camera previously only used in 1-2 Switch is actually powerful enough to show night-vision camera-esque footage and follow heat signatures. It’s wild. It justifies all these Switch hardware features that previous seemed unnecessary.From there we got to sample pre-built versions of the rest of the Nintendo Labo kits launching this 4/20. A basic fishing minigame gained new tactile pleasures thanks to the tension of pulling and releasing the fishing rod and string. It made me want a Ridiculous Fishing port. I held motorcycle handles to my chest to steer in a Mario Kart-esque racing game. One Toy-Con has you slot the tablet into a little house to terrorize a virtual pet with floods and minecart minigames. And I’m honestly astonished how realistic the piano keys feel, with their natural weight and bounciness, despite being made of cardboard. I could play the vaporwave anthem with ease, and even changed the sound from crisp keys to crying cats.Finally, we got to try on the robot suit, after being reassured it fits on adults. From a tech perspective, this Toy-Con is arguably the most fascinating. Instead of holding motion controllers in your hands, players slot one Joy-Con in a helmet for head tracking and a first-person view. The other Joy-Con uses IR scanning inside a backpack to interpret sliding bits of reflective tape connected to cords on your hands and feet. That way your limb movements correspond with the in-game giant robot.The mech takes exaggerated, appropriately kaiju-esque movements to control. Stretch out your arms to fly. Crouch to become a tank. Punch to punch. It’s a good kind of ridiculous, perfectly paired with the fact you’re wearing a robot outfit made of boxes. That said, we hope the finished game has slightly more depth than the aimless destruction of the demo, especially since the robot kit is sold separately for a higher price ($79 vs. $69). Just make a new Steel Battalion with this.Between the inherent finality of the building process and limited depth of the software, no one could blame you for thinking Nintendo Labo might not have the long-lasting appeal it maybe should. But the final part of its functionality revealed that this really is Nintendo’s in-depth answer to the DIY/Maker/STEM education toy space, a smart space to muscle in on. With Toy-Con Garage, kids can use a surprisingly frank and robust software interface to straight-up reprogram Toy-Con behavior.Connect different attribute blocks and if/then statements to write commands like “vibrate with this button push” or “react this way to this light pattern.” Nintendo gives you an impressive amount of creative control considering its love of guided experiences. Use the motorcycle handles to steer the RC cars or throw out the pre-fab Toy-Con entirely and construct your own from scratch. Make a bank that scans different coin shapes. Strap the tablet to a guitar and strum on the touch screen. Use stencils to create light patterns for a tennis game.It’s an awesome, imaginative, expressive and totally fun introduction to basic robotics and coding concepts in a Lego Mindstorms way. We hope Nintendo allows the Labo community to easily share new code and ideas online. It’s like Nintendo canonizing hacks in a way, similar to how Lego embraces ideas from the My Own Creation (MOC) fan builder community. Labo is still for kids, but if adults do find deeper enjoyment out of it it’ll be through pushing Toy-Con Garage capabilities as far as they’ll go.I think children are going to eat Nintendo Labo up when it launches this 4/20. I know I would have. As successful as the Nintendo Switch and its library of traditional games has been so far, I really believe this represents a new launch for just how versatile the console/handheld hybrid can be in the entertainment, and now educational, experiences it can provide.You can also see and read more Nintendo Labo impressions on our sister site PCMag.com.Buy it now!Buy Nintendo labo Variety Kit.Buy Nintendo Labo Robot Kit.Nintendo SwitchProtect Your Nintendo Switch With These Awesome CasesLet us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.