The big announcement from Nintendo has turned out to be customised controllers for new Switch games, that you have to make yourself.
Nintendo’s reputation for being unpredictable has been taken to new heights with a new system of DIY carboard peripherals called Nintendo Labo.
The idea is that you buy a Nintendo Labo pack and it comes with a bunch of flat carboard sheets with shapes you can punch out. These are then folded and connected together, like a cross between origami and an Ikea bookcase, to make what Nintendo is calling a Toy-Con.
The Joy-Con controllers also fit into the constructions, as does the Switch screen, allowing you to give games their own unique peripherals; almost like a low-tech version of an arcade cabinet.
There are two sets so far, with the first one, called the Variety Pack, coming with all the carboard templates (and rubber bands and other fasteners) needed to make a fishing rod, a motorbike handlebar, a house, a remote-control car, and a piano.
You also get a game card with the set which includes five games, one for each Toy-Con, and although you can’t see much of them in the video the functionality seems quite complex.
For example, all 13 keys of the piano work, with the IR motion camera on the right Joy-Con watching to see which one you press and then parping the noise through the Switch’s speakers.
The motorbike has a rotating, function throttle; while the RC car is driven around by the movement from the HD Rumble motors. The fishing rod is a bit easier to see in the video, but the house seems to be some sort of Tamagotchi affair where you’re feeding and playing with its inhabitants.
What you can see a bit easier is the other set, which is called the Robot Kit and comes with a cardboard backpack and visor. The game is clearly an evolution of the Wii U title that was demoed at E3 a few years ago as Project Giant Robot.
There don’t seem to be any UK prices for either kit yet, but in America it’s $69.99 (£51) for the Variety Kit and $79.99 (£58) for the Robot Kit. But remember that does include the games too, not just the cardboard.
All of this has come out of the blue, and yet the two packs will go on sale as early as April 27. Along with a Customisation Set that includes various colourful tapes, stencil sheets, and stickers with which to customise your creations.
There’ll also be a family-orientated ‘workshop’ in London between February 14 and 15, if you want to try them out for free early, with the details available here.
As with anything Nintendo do it’s hard to tell at first whether this is genius or madness, but if the concept is a hit we imagine you’ll start to see similar peripherals created for many other games in the future.