There are significant moments that I remember from my childhood as a gamer. Loading up my Genesis 6-pack to play either Streets of Rage or Golden Axe over and over again. Sitting back-to-back with my Uncle on the couch while we played Pokémon on our Gameboys, tethered together by nothing but a link cable. Or even racing after school to the Game Plaza on 116th to play Marvel vs. Capcom 2 on one of the few arcade machines left in Spanish Harlem.
These are moments that made my childhood awesome. It’s during those early times in the 90’s and early 2000’s that the games were enough to get us excited. Today, as the oldest brother of four siblings, I’m fascinated by games geared towards kids. Even as an adult I find myself getting excited about the newest gimmick or some kind of experimental play because, honestly, where was half of this stuff when I was growing up?
Nintendo Labo Takes a Swing at Creativity
A couple of weeks ago, the Nintendo Labo was unveiled. A do-it-yourself kit with cardboard attachments for the Switch called toy-cons. Yes, cardboard … but it’s really cool cardboard. Plus, each kit comes with software for each of the different buildable options. Nonetheless, I think my 27-year-old mind regressed to my 11-year-old self because I got really excited.
Nintendo knows its audience and has experimented with different methods of play for a long time. It’s important to note that while Nintendo has plenty of older fans who fondly remember the nostalgic years, the company’s bread and butter is awing young minds with creativity. While many of us as adults might criticize the new peripheral for being expensive cardboard, you have to remember that it’s not for us – Nintendo Labo is for kids.
Take Children’s Video Games Beyond
This for children. The same way Legos, Transformers, Power Rangers, and Yu-gi-oh cards were available to us as kids. That’s exactly what Nintendo Labo reminds me of, and it’s just another example of how game creators are evolving how a younger generation plays with video games. I think it started with Skylanders when I realized that we were in an age of experimentation when it came to making these types of games. I would have lost my fricken mind if I could combine my Power Rangers toys with my Genesis, or if I could train my Pokémon, put its data into a toy, and take it to a friends house to play Pokémon Stadium.
While the Toys-to-Life genre is fading from popularity, it’s interesting to see developers and publishers take a chance. Within the last decade, we’ve seen creations like uDraw, Amiibo, motion controls, and more. And yes, some of these were failures (looking at you uDraw) but they were great attempts at something new. Even more, Nintendo seems to have hit its stride with the arrival of the Switch, which doesn’t seem to stop. My first thoughts when I saw Labo were how fun this would be to make with my brother, how excited he will be to see this, and why couldn’t they have made this when I grew up playing video games?
I’m excited to see how far the Nintendo Labo goes, and what more you can create. Also, every time something new and inventive comes out for kids, a hint a jealousy comes across my eyes as I watch my youngest brother experience these things with fresh eyes and childlike wonder.