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Nintendo Labo
© 2018 Nintendo of America

CTR Review
For ages 6-up
For grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, S, Jr, Sr.
$70 and up per kit, Nintendo Switch
Teaches: creativity, spatial thinking
Nintendo Labo (lab-o) is a well engineered, snap-together cardboard DIY kit that leverages the power of the $300 Nintendo Switch system (required). Each kit starts with a pre-stamped sheet of cardboard (akin to Google Cardboard) designed to accommodate the Nintendo Switch console and Joy-Con controllers. Nintendo is calling the finished creations Toy-Con. Don't assume cardboard = affordable. The kits start at $70, but they are surprisingly well engineered. The tutorials, delivered on the Nintendo Switch screen, are amazingly well designed. You can rotate each creation in space, and pinch/pull to take a closer look at each step. Labo delivers an extremely strong spatial learning experience.

For the 13-key piano project, you use the Nintendo Switch console and Right Joy-Con controller. As you press the keys of the piano, the IR Motion Camera in the Right Joy-Con detects which keys are pressed and translates them into notes. The sounds come from the console's speakers. Reflective tape turns out to be a central component of each kit, because the Joy-Con controllers can "see" the position of the tape.

Nintendo Lab contains two kits. the Variety Kit ($70) and the Robot Kit ($80). The Variety Kit lets you make two Toy-Con RC Cars, a Toy-Con Fishing Rod, a Toy-Con House, a Toy-Con Motorbike and a Toy-Con Piano.

The Robot Kit is very cool... it lets you make a robot costume, consisting of a visor, backpack and straps for your hands and feet which you can then wear to assume control of a giant in-game robot. Both kits include everything you need to assemble your Toy-Con creations, including the building materials and relevant Nintendo Switch software. You can also spend $10 more to get a set of stencils, stickers and colored tape; compatible any kit. The Labo software includes a programming utility called Toy-Con Garage that makes it possible to program each Labo project as you like. You can also mix-and-match parts from different kits. All-in-all, this is an innovative, well designed series of games.
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