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These Brilliantly Bizarre Cardboard Toys Are Why Nintendo Matters

If Nintendo was only producing software, not hardware, something this strange wouldn't exist.

by Patrick Klepek
Jan 18 2018, 4:20pm

Image courtesy of Nintendo

Since the dawn of time, hot takes have pondered: What if Nintendo went third-party? Sega’s financial stumbles forced the company to abandon making hardware, and whenever Nintendo’s had problems, it’s seemed reasonable to wonder if Nintendo would meet the same fate. Mario, like Sonic, would one day stand in front of a Sony (or Microsoft) logo, and Nintendo innovation would be reduced to the software it made.

The company’s latest, a new initiative called Labo, should have us hoping that day never comes. If you missed the reveal of Nintendo’s move into the cardboard biz:

The medium is better and more interesting because Nintendo has remained in hardware. That Switch’s success means Nintendo may be emboldened to try seemingly off-the-wall ideas should make us more excited about its future.

Nintendo’s taken a cue from the DIY community and put their spin on it. It’s strange, charming, completely unexpected, and I have no idea if it will be a success. Who cares, though? Its existence—and more importantly, the hyperbolic reactions—have already validated the Labo experiment. Please inject more of these responses into my veins:

“It's fucking trash. This isn't even me being salty because I didn't expect anything to begin with. It is a legitimate trash idea and it will review terribly. Cardboard? Fucking cardboard? Who the hell is gonna be arsed to build their own thing that will inevitably break in 5 minutes? It goes against the concept of the Switch since you can't take it outside due to rain, it is just fucking trash.”

They’ll get around to announcing Smash Bros. for Switch eventually. You’ll be OK.

Though maybe we should have seen something like this coming, not many did. As we all wondered how Nintendo would find a way to support Switch with new software after a year with Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild, there was no world where I thought, “Ah, yes, I’ll suddenly be very interested in paying $70 for cardboard.”

I expected a zig, but Nintendo zagged. My endless frustration with Nintendo’s decisions comes from a place of love, respect, appreciation. If they ran the company the way I asked, they wouldn’t land on the surprises I didn’t know I wanted. A more cynical company—also known as any other hardware manufacturer?—likely wouldn’t have given a wildcard like Labo more than an internal Power Point presentation.

What a weird, wonderful time for video games. And cardboard. Thanks, Nintendo.

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