Developer interview - To everyone anticipating Nintendo Labo

Developer interview - Part 2

To everyone anticipating Nintendo Labo

Nintendo Labo will be released soon, and customers will finally have the chance to get their hands on it. I’d like to ask just a few more questions, if I may. I’m wondering about the durability of the engineered cardboard in Nintendo Labo. Will replacement parts be available?

Mr. Sakaguchi: Replacement materials will be available starting April 20.

(Ed. note: Learn more about replacement parts on the FAQ.)

Mr. Ogasawara: We considered the durability of the materials during the design stage. We were focused on making it simple to assemble, but of course there are limits to what you can do with cardboard. We designed the Toy-Con projects so that they wouldn’t break easily, and then we performed extensive durability tests where they were subjected to the same motions and actions hundreds and thousands of times. On top of that… well, this is a bit of a digression.

Cardboard is typically made from recycled paper, at least in Japan. One ramification of the recycling process is that the final product contains all kinds of materials. On the other hand, governments have implemented regulations to ensure consumer safety. North America, Europe, and Japan each produce the cardboard sheets for their region to ensure that the material complies with regional requirements.

On a slightly different topic, I can also imagine children building these Toy-Con creations and getting invested in them. Were they to break in a vigorous play session, the children might want to fix them on their own. How do you feel about that?

Mr. Sakaguchi: I think it’s wonderful. All throughout development we were making things, fixing them, adjusting them, adding new things, and so on. The more we worked on our projects the more ideas came to us, and we’d think of ways we’d want to decorate or customize our projects, and we all ended up with unique, individual Toy-Con creations at the end of it. I like to think that repairs are part of the creation process itself.

The included software even includes tips on how to make repairs. We added videos to the Discover section explaining how best to repair certain things, or mistakes to avoid. There’s even content on decorating tips, and on how to reinforce completed Toy-Con projects.

I didn’t know that!

Mr. Kawamoto: There are videos on how to replace snapped rubber bands, and how to use masking tape to repair cardboard tears and decorate your projects at the same time.

ESRB Rating: EVERYONE with Mild Cartoon Violence

Moving on, I imagine there are parents with very young children who wonder if Nintendo Labo is too difficult or complex for their child. Did you learn anything through consumer testing about that?

Mr. Sakaguchi: Yes. The main thing I want to say to parents is that their kids can probably do much better than they might think, so I suggest they let their children try it out by themselves first. Of course, there will still be some children that need more help than others…

Were there a lot of parents at the tests who couldn’t stop themselves from stepping in and helping their children?

Mr. Kawamoto: I’m sure there are parents that feel like they need to help their children. I also sometimes wonder if… You see, I’m a parent myself. Sometimes I just want to play with their toys. (Laughs.)

Mr. Sakaguchi: I really feel that children have the ability and concentration to do these projects, so I do think it’s best to let them try their hand at building without immediately jumping in and trying to help. There were a lot of parents who were genuinely surprised at how well their children were able to do.

Mr. Kawamoto: We did these consumer tests specifically to address concerns like these. Whenever something was too complicated, we revised the designs. We were always saying, “Back to the drawing board on that part!” We truly did put a lot of effort into polishing the designs.

Mr. Ogasawara: It was a lot of work, but it was always fun.

How so?

Mr. Ogasawara: It felt so good to successfully address an issue. When people had trouble in one test session, and then didn’t have any trouble after we redesigned that portion of the project, it felt fantastic. It was rewarding, and really motivated me to keep going.

Did you design the projects and the build times with children’s attention spans in mind?

Mr. Kawamoto: At the Nintendo Labo preview events that were held in Japan, North America, and Europe, we saw a lot of kids who ignored the scheduled break times and went right on making and building—although it’s better to take a break from time to time.

(Ed. note: The lucky attendees of our Nintendo Labo Studio preview events shared their first impressions here.)

Mr. Ogasawara: There’s no need to try and build it all in one sitting. I think everyone can do these projects at their own pace.

Mr. Kawamoto: When you’re deep in a project and you run into a part that is hard to understand, it’s natural to want to give up at that point. We don’t want anyone to feel that way, so we’ve done all we could to remove any tough steps in the Make process.

Did you notice any differences between people who are naturally good at crafts and people who aren’t?

Mr. Sakaguchi: Not particularly. The difference between individuals was much more pronounced. The Robot Toy-Con takes three or four hours to build, and there was a second-grader who had no trouble staying focused for the entirety of the build. Once they finished the Make process, most kids said it was a lot of fun.

Would you say that any kids who have an interest will probably be able to make the projects?

Mr. Kawamoto: Well, everyone is different. Speaking generally, children six and up can probably handle Nintendo Labo projects with a little assistance from their parents. Children ten and up can probably handle the projects on their own.

Mr. Sakaguchi: This is just a personal observation of mine from the tests, but children around eight or nine years old were right in the range where they start to reconsider how much help they want from their parents, and where parents start thinking about letting their children have more independence. Again, everyone is different, but I think that’s a fantastic age for kids to try out Nintendo Labo.

Mr. Ogasawara: Children too young for the making part can still enjoy the games. Even parents will find themselves getting a lot of fresh surprises from the games.

Mr. Kawamoto & Mr. Sakaguchi: This is starting to sound like a product that even children can enjoy, but it really isn’t a product for children exclusively. We made this so it would be fun for everyone.

Thank you. You must be excited to finally get Nintendo Labo into the hands of the public. Are you looking forward to seeing what kinds of things people make?

Mr. Sakaguchi: I really am.

Mr. Ogasawara: Very much so.

Mr. Kawamoto: I can’t wait!

Mr. Sakaguchi: Honestly though, personally I’m fresh out of ideas. (Laughs.)

Everyone: (Laughs.)

Mr. Sakaguchi: How many ideas can there be left? (Laughs.) I’d like to see someone invent something that is easy to understand, fun to play with, and can only be done with Nintendo Switch—but I’m skeptical. (Laughs.)

We’ll just have to wait and see what the public will come up with!


Editor: This is the end of the second part of our interview with three Nintendo Labo Developers. I hope you enjoyed it. Thank you for reading.