Developers at the gaming giant reveal the thinking behind their new range of hi-tech interactive cardboard construction kits, and the laughs they had while inventing them

The launch of a new Nintendo product always generates excitement, because you never quite know what you are going to get. In 2004, Nintendo abandoned the wildly successful Game Boy portable consoles in favour of an ugly silver clamshell with two screens, the DS. Two years later, when other games companies were focused on improving their consoles’ graphical power, Nintendo popularised motion control with the comparatively underpowered Wii. Both announcements attracted scepticism and even mockery from players and market analysts alike, and both sold more than 100m each.

The company’s experimental approach is not always successful, however. Though Nintendo’s most recent console, the Switch, has been a huge success so far, its predecessor, the Wii U, was one of the worst-selling games machines of all time. Nintendo Labo, out today in the US and on 27 April in the UK, is one of Nintendo’s weirdest ever ideas: a set of cardboard construction kits that, combined with the game software packaged with it, can be used to create interactive toys.

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