Nintendo Labo reminds me of how pointless and fragile life is

Life is lived for happy moments, no matter how trivial or fleeting they may be. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve sold your soul to capitalism for a new piece of tech or bought a new game you’ve been excited for, all of these moments make life worthwhile, even if just for a second. That’s exactly how I felt when I was piecing together Nintendo Labo’s Variety Kit just under a year ago.

Nintendo Labo is built for short bursts of fun, or perhaps saying that you build it for short bursts of fun is more accurate. Slotting together each cardboard piece and slowly watching a pile of cardboard transform into a gaming peripheral is a unique, wonderful feeling, with the end result offering the kind of satisfaction you get from defeating a difficult Dark Souls boss. Potentially hours of effort goes into a single outcome, and when you finish, you stand victorious.

It’s while playing the games themselves that you realize that Nintendo Labo is designed to be as short-lived as the peripherals you create. Building the kit offers immense satisfaction, but playing the games makes the entire experience more akin to a gimmick. While the Labo Piano can be used as an actual instrument, the other pieces you build aren’t anywhere near as satisfying.

Repetition

Music Covers

I wake up, wearily glance around the room, and grab my phone to delay getting out of bed. Eventually, I muster the strength to open the curtains, and the sun’s warm welcome is offensive to my eyes. A ladybug has curled up on the windowsill and died. It’s a friendly reminder of how temporary even the most beautiful things are. Every day could start this way, but not every day has to continue on a somber note. Some days could give you the simple thrills of putting together a Nintendo Labo kit; something sure to sprout smiles on faces for a few hours.

Instead of that though, my eyes adjusted to the sunlight and it shined on a pile of Nintendo Labo cardboard peripherals. They’re dust-coated relics that haven’t been thrown out or recycled out of some sense of sentimental attachment, almost like leaving a game installed on your hard drive even though you know you’ll never play it again. Worse yet, the sunlight had found another victim: the Labo Fishing Rod.

Almost a year on from the birth of my own Labo creations, one had finally broken. The rubber bands connecting to the string of the Fishing Rod had been worn and dried out by the sun, leaving one to completely snap as I gently tugged at it. Due to the nature of Nintendo Labo, it is of course easily repaired, but there didn’t seem to be much point. It had been months since I had last touched it. That piece of cardboard didn’t change my life or make me happy; it just cluttered my already cramped living space.

Pushing a rock

Nintendo Labo Workshops

Hedonic adaptation, also known as the hedonic treadmill, is the tendency of humans to return to a stable level of happiness. Essentially, no matter what happens in your life, you will likely return to a nice stable mood eventually. Time heals all wounds, after all. One day you could be marrying the love of your life, and months down the line, you’ll likely be just as happy as you were before you’d met. Likewise, you could lose someone close to you — a dagger to the heart that we have all felt. But in time, no matter how long or difficult it is, your mood will return to the way you felt while they were still with you.

It’s both massively reassuring, and potentially devastating. On the one hand, you can know that the pain you feel now will be temporary. On the other, if you’re suffering from a monotonous, repetitive existence, any uplifting mood you may receive from a new activity, relationship or purchase, will eventually lose its luster.

So what do we do to keep moving forward, and not stagnate? It’s taking pleasure in everything, no matter how temporary. Your new relationship might not last forever, but you can enjoy the moment right now and remember it forever. Consumer culture and buying video games certainly isn’t something worth dedicating your life to, but if they can make you happy then it’s worth it, even if only for an hour.

This is Nintendo Labo. It’s easy to complain about the short-lived games included in the pack, but impossible but deny the happiness it brings when you finish each ToyCon. Is it going to be useful in the year to come? Like Marie Kondo would ask, does it bring you joy? The answer is likely no, but it brought you joy once. Even long after those ToyCon get thrown into the recycling, you’ll still have the memories and that vague feeling of achievement. Nothing could take that away from you.

Everything we choose to do enriches our lives in small ways or incredibly poignant and meaningful ways. There’s no incorrect choice in regards to what you do today, or tomorrow, but perhaps the closest thing to a wrong answer would be to do nothing. Whatever you do, whatever happiness you find may not last long, but in those precious moments, it will all be worth it. Even if it ends up cluttering the corner of your room for almost a year.