Culture Jam: Lab-Go or Lab-No?

Brian and Ben debate the Labo in our first Culture Jam

Let’s let you in on a secret; when you have multiple writers on a website, its not uncommon for said writers to have differing opinions on pretty much everything. You give out a game review and the reviewer loves (or hates) it, and you can bet your bottom dollar that another hates (or loves) it. The same is true when a new product is announced and when it comes to Nintendo’s Labo; let’s just say our opinions are about as opposite as the North and South Pole.

To help us settle our debate once and for all, we thought we’d jam our opinions on culture together… A CultureJam, if you will. We’ll let you decide who’s right and who should be booed until your throat is sore.

Brian – Lab-Go

Ok look, when Nintendo announced Labo I genuinely thought it was a joke. It’s cardboard. Literal cardboard. But the I pulled my head out of my ass and realised one vital point; I am a 28-year-old communications advisor, and I am in no way the target audience of this product.

I’m not going to say that I love Labo and will be surgically attached to it forever. I will probably have a go, think it’s fun, and think little else of it. But if you hand me a hula hoop I’d have the same reaction. Self-described ‘gamers’ are not who this product is for, and I don’t see you all protesting the latest Barbie doll just because you don’t want it (although it’s a Tomb Raider one and admit it, you kinda do).

One of the few good things about living in a capitalist dystopia is that, if we don’t want to, we don’t HAVE to buy anything. The Labo is a niche product, aimed at kids and kids-at-heart. It’s multifunctional, tactile, and innovative. Sure, I can appreciate that people unfamiliar with papercraft see it was overpriced or fragile, but remember that your Switch will get messed up if you get it wet too; you don’t pour water on your gaming equipment now, why will Labo be different? Do people have an uncontrollable urge to saturate every piece of cardboard they see? Why is this such a big deal?

I’ve got an origami tiger on my shelf that I made half a decade and half a planet away, and it’s still fine. I think Labo will survive the children it’s designed for.

And of course, Labo isn’t just expensive cardboard, it’s also a game. Actually, it’s a ton of games, appealing to a broad range of people and showing some real innovation on Nintendo’s part. 1-2 Switch was underwhelming, but the Labo peripherals show how the Switch is more than just another console, it’s a revolution in how we view gaming.

Still not sold on the robot, but that may be because I’m probably too big for it.

Vote for me. Vote for innovation. Vote for Labo.

Now I’ll let Ben give his (wrong) opinion.

Ben – Lab-No

When Nintendo said they had a major announcement I was excited. When the announcement was made I was confused. Did Nintendo really just enter the cardboard business? Once I realised that Nintendo hadn’t got the date waaay wrong for April Fools Day, it hit me, Nintendo are now cardboard manufacturers and very expensive ones at that.

I get that this is targeted at the tweens out there and that for parents, Labo is going to keep the kids occupied but it’s cardboard! To make it worse the cardboard itself does absolutely nothing other than give you the template to make the Toy-con Piano, RC Car, Fishing Rod, etc. It’s the Labo game cartridge that actually controls everything so the cardboard templates that Nintendo are offering for $119.99 NZD have been very appropriately named, that being a massive Toy con. I’m not cardboard manufacturer but I can’t imagine it costs more than a dollar or two to make these templates and that may even be on the high-side. Sure there is the IP that has gone into making this work but that’s a bloody big profit margin Nintendo are extorting out of parents looking to keep the kids out of their hair.

I hate to harp on about it but again it’s cardboard! This is hardly the most robust material in the world. For a product aimed at kids I can’t help but wonder how well these Toy-cons will actually last in the hands of kids who aren’t the best in the world at realising when something is a little fragile. Put that juice box next to the kids while they are making use of Labo and you’ve got a recipe for some very expensive cardboard mush.

Rest assured though, if your cardboard is destroyed or turns to mush if you’ve got a few cardboard boxes lying round the house you’ll be able to make your own toy-cons to slot your Switch into in no time. Just like these…

 

So there you have it, Brian may not be the target demographic, but he is devastatingly handsome, and he’s not a cranky old grump like Ben. We’ve given you our CultureJam now it’s it’s time for you, dear reader, to settle it once and for all; is the Labo a Lab-Go or a Lab-No?

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