Nerd Talk: Cardboard and Nintendo a unique combination

Megan Roth’s bi-weekly column about popculture and all things nerdy

Recently Nintendo announced a new feature to launch this spring for the Nintendo Switch. All I have to say is “What?”

In a world where gaming companies are going to huge effect, realistic animation and 4K quality, Nintendo is doing something quite different, which will once again set them apart from its competitors. Cardboard.

Yes, you have read that right, Nintendo is introducing cardboard.

Basically parents will be able to purchase pieces of cardboard for their kids to build things out of which they can then play with while using the Nintedo Switch.

It’s a neat concept, I will admit it. But I don’t think it will go over very well.

The main issue I have with this toy is the fact it is cardboard. I have built many a thing out of cardboard, this is true – but anyone who has had a sword fight with a wrapping paper tube will know just how long cardboard lasts.

I just imagine parents going out and buying this new “game” for their kids only to have to go out again a few months later because, surprise!, their kids are a little rough on the cardboard and the “toy” doesn’t work properly anymore.

And of course it isn’t exactly cheap. According to the Nintendo Labo website the variety kit will retail for $69.99 and is currently available for pre-orders on amazon.com. I cannot find anything that says prices will be different in Canada, but I’d be prepared for that just in case.

The concept is very interesting though, as it encourage children – the accessory is designed for kids between the ages of eight and 12 – to be hands on and find out how things work.

In the variety kit alone, children will be guided in how to build a piano, RC cars and even a motorbike.

There is also a robot build, which is separate and more money.

The idea is distinctly Nintendo, who has in the past released games on its systems for self improvement. There has been Wii Fitness and Brain Age which look at a different way of “playing.”

That is really what this new announcement “a new way to play” is. It is a clever and unexpected addition to the Nintendo Switch line-up to be sure.

I’m just not sure it is the best idea.

My problem is I can’t get over the cardboard. While cardboard structures can be sturdy, they don’t last very long.

The other issue I have is there are toys out there that encourage a different way to play. Lego, for instance has been a mainstay in children’s toy boxes for ages. This toy encourages creativity and ingenuity to build pretty much anything.

Then we have K’Nex where children can build some fairly complex creations and learn about engineering and movement. With this toy kids can build roller coasters.

And the toys can be used to build multiple things without breaking.

While the new addition to Nintendo’s lineup is interesting and one many kids are sure to love, my heart goes out to the parents.

With the prices of video games rising and now the introduction of cardboard, of all things, it’s a hard pill to swallow.

I’m not sure how well this product was really thought out. Cardboard is hardly a permanent material to build with.

Sure, the announcement video shows some really cool builds will be launched at a later date. Breaking down the trailer, it looks like in the future Labo will include some sort of flight stick, a kick pedal for a drum kit, a camera and even a steering wheel with a gas pedal.

All of these constructs, or as Nintendo is calling them toy-cons, work with the switch by sliding the controller pieces into specific slots. To me that just spells potential for something to break.

My experience with kids is they are not gentle on their toys or belongings.

My younger sister has a copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with its cover completely torn off, and it’s been like that practically since she got it when she was nine.

My youngest niece, who is five, immediately took apart a doll I got her for Christmas this year.

If kids can’t keep hard, sturdy items like this together, what hope is there for something so impermanent like cardboard?

I think it is a great idea on Nintendo’s part, just maybe not so well thought out.

It’s hard to say how long this new development will last. It could very well end up being like Disney’s failed video game that was pretty much Nintendo’s amiibo.

The toy-con is to be released in April, and the internet is full of mixed reaction. Some think it is silly, others think its a great idea.

The only way I would become a little more comfortable with this idea is if Nintendo releases extra sets down the line at a reduced rate. That way when the constructs inevitably break, parents will not have the pay $69.99 again which will get them more cardboard, yes, but also the game that goes with it.



megan.roth@sylvanlakenews.com

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