Notes: Nintendo Labo

23 May 2018

Nintendo Labo is a low-tech housing for the high-tech joycons. I’ve played it. I made others play it. Here’s some raw notes.

I didn’t get an opportunity to observe how different people built the toycons. But I did see them play with the final controllers.

The Experience:

  • You fold together cardboard, and nicely arranged tabs and pieces combine to form the “toycon” controllers.
  • Tabs that seemed irreversible can actually still be popped open and closed many times. Corrugated cardboard is quite good!
  • You then play games using these controllers.
  • There is motion sensing tech in all joycons, and infrared sensors to detect other objects.
  • The discover section actually teaches you everything in an entertaining way if you’re not an engineer. You could definetly nurture some kids with this.


  • Most experiences are quite complete. You definetly feel that the cardboard has become a controller
  • Incomplete toycons: Motorcycle doesn’t suit large hands, turning in the Robot kit was a necessary compromise.


  • Most players find a reasonable experience in each game.
  • For fishing, most players don’t spot animation/sound queues immediately (if you do, fishing becomes very simple). Are they immersed?
  • I didn’t expect 1v1 RC cars to be HOURS of fun.
  • People love the robot, but don’t have the endurance to jump back in. (or perhaps the appeal is limited. how can I tell?)


  • The main purchase factor is willingness and time to build. Obviously this gears it towards kids.
  • The variety kit felt like good value for money.
  • The robot kit only provides itself, which is hard to recommend, but was new and interesting.

  • There is still an air of novelty around the toycons… you’d need multiple uses for each toycon, i.e. you’d want to see them more as controllers than toys.
  • Example: the piano could have controlled a pinball game, and that would have provided more replay value. (Not everyone will use the toycon garage)


  • No advertisements demonstrate longevity/repairing (open close tabs, sticking on reinforcing cardboard from anywhere). It was a liberating feeling when I taped a stolen flap from a tissue box onto a bent RC car’s leg to make it work again.
  • Some of the cool toycon feedback (all rubber band components) could have been demonstrated more. We never saw the motorcycle handle snap back when released in the initial reveal trailer.