I finally got around to spending a significant amount of time with Nintendo Labo over the weekend.
I’d built the RC Toy-Con, and was impressed with the easy to understand instructions as well as the simplicity of steering it around, but it was annoying my loved ones, rather than capturing their attention for the right reasons (the fact that it was a super cool remote control surecardboard ant).
When I built the Fishing Rod it was a completely different story. After spending the two-three hours assembling it, my four year old nephew, my non-gaming partner and Candy Crushed obsessed mother were all standing around.
The second they saw me pick up the fishing rod, there was instant intrigue. Now, I’ve had my Nintendo Switch since a few weeks before launch, and even then my partner and almost anyone else who had visited whilst I’d been playing had shown no interest, but there was this instant obsession when they saw the simplicity of Nintendo Labo.
Now, I could understand my young nephew’s interest. He sat there patiently trying to “help” me build the Fishing Rod, but I was honestly surprised with just how quickly he got it. Before I’d even had a chance to catch my first fish, he he picked up the rod, dropped the line in and was quickly on his way to reeling in a Mackerel.
By the time I’d finally gotten him off it to have a go myself (I was scared at this point that the rod would be snapped in half), my mum who has never held a traditional game controller in her life, had picked up the rod and was catching a fish with literally no explanation.
Most surprising of all, was my partner’s interest. This is somebody who watches me play all kinds of games (during pretty much any spare moment that I’ve got), and has almost never shown an interest, but I literally couldn’t get him off the Nintendo Labo fishing rod.
It was at this moment, with four people crowded around the Nintendo Switch wanting to take the next turn that I realised that this is something that I haven’t seen since I first got the Nintendo Wii. Whenever anybody came over and saw us playing, they felt not only intrigued to have a go at Wii Sports, but actually confident in what they were doing with no prior explanation.
The Nintendo Switch is one of my favourite consoles of all time, but there’s no doubt in my mind that there was still something missing in terms of the casual appeal. Now, does this mean that they’re going to go from playing with the Toy-Con Fishing Rod to instantly playing Breath of the Wild? Probably not, but it sure is a great stepping stone into realising the potential of Nintendo Switch, and that first point of entry is probably the hardest thing to tackle with non-gamers.
Making them remember why games are fun, and can be quite accessible is probably the hardest thing to do, and the fact that Nintendo Labo managed to do it with ease is a testament to just how inviting and creative it is as a product.