As a long summer vacation looms before parents, we're probably all wondering the same thing: How do we keep our kids occupied without sitting them in front of a TV all day long? Enter the revolutionary Nintendo Labo to save your day (and sanity). This new release for the Nintendo Switch is beyond a traditional video game. Calling it a game wouldn't even be right—it's more like a series of DIY accessories that work with compatible games on the Switch. And it's freaking awesome.
The Labo's tagline is "Make, Create, Discover" and it's pretty much on target. Unlike a traditional video game, your child won't be sitting there for hours mindlessly watching a screen and smashing buttons. Instead, they'll actually be physically building creations out of custom-cut cardboard pieces then be able to control whatever creation they built with the Switch's portable console.
So cool, right?!
The Labo comes in two versions. The Variety Kit, which will retail for $70, includes a mini piano, a fishing rod (with an actual reel and string to fish with), a motorbike, remote control cars and a toy house. Kids build each item from scratch following step-by-step instructions that show up on the Switch console. The instructions are so simple even a 5-year-old could follow them with the help of a parent. Once the creation is built, they then play games with the finished physical item.
A surefire favorite for the younger kid crowd in the Variety Kit is the interactive toy house. Little kids can construct and decorate the house with a little help from their parents (or not) and once it's done, play a series of games that takes place inside—like turning an actual little crank to help a hamster run and earn candy—something so simple that a young child could play forever. Or they can insert a little spring at the bottom of the house and activate a mini bowling game. Those are just a couple of over a dozen games they can "play" in the house.
The other Labo option is the Robot Kit ($80) where you (ahem, I mean your kid) builds a full-size robot backpack and visor out of cardboard that they then wear to control a massive robot on the screen that will mimic their movements. They can even lift their arms to see the robot fly and crouch on the ground to have it transform into a vehicle they can then "drive" around. It's basically like every gamer's '90s dreams come true.
Not only does the Labo help with hand-eye coordination and STEM skills, it encourages kids to think about—and figure out—how all of these creations are working. The keyboard has actual cardboard keys and exposed gears, so when they press down on a key they can see what exactly inside is making the note come out. They'll be able to understand the physics of a real-life fishing reel since, you know, they build one themselves.
The best part? The Labo is something even young kids will be obsessed with, so if you've got a former (or current) full-grown gamer in the house, they won't have to wait to start playing their favorite past time with their child.
Good luck keeping this one hidden away until Christmas!