Nintendo is letting you build a playable toy piano out of cardboard

When Nintendo teased a big announcement yesterday, it’s safe to assume that not many people thought that this would be a range of build-them-yourself cardboard peripherals for the Switch.

That’s the reality we’re dealing with, though; Nintendo Labo, as its known, is a new concept that enables you to build your cardboard ‘Toy-Cons’, as they’re known, by following on-screen instructions. You then use the Switch console and Joy-Cons to turn them into things you can play with.

What’s interesting from a musical perspective is that one of these Toy-Cons is a piano. Word has it that it takes a couple of hours to build, with the cameras on the Joy-Cons being used to detect reflective tape that’s attached to the keys and work out which note needs to be played on the console. You even get a few knobs so that you can adjust the tone of the sound and add effects.

Labo is very much aimed at kids, but we can’t deny that we’d love to have a play with it. Whether the piano will end up being compatible with any other software beyond the bundled game - and how durable it will be - remains to be seen, but you’ve got to hand it to Nintendo for trying something very different.

That said, if you want a more traditional music-making experience on your Switch, remember that Korg's Gadget is also coming to the console.

The piano Toy-Con forms part of the Nintendo Labo Variety Kit, which will be released in April priced at $70. Find out more on the Nintendo website.  

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.