Hacker Mike Choi, who you might know as the engineer and co-designer of the Nintendo Flip Grip, revealed his latest unofficial Nintendo peripheral last week, complete with its own Nintendo Direct-style reveal.It’s called the Labo Fit Adventure Kart.
The Labo Fit Adventure Kart is a multi-part invention that combines the Ring Fit Adventure Ring-Con, Nintendo Labo-inspired cutouts, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and an exercise bike, into a single workout game hybrid.
The basic mechanic of the Labo Fit Adventure Kart is that the pedaling on the exercise bike will accelerate your kart in-game, while items and directional controls are handled by squeezing and turning the Ring-Con. The engine that pulls all these elements together is a home-brewed robot that Choi calls TAPBO, which is responsible for making the whole thing playable.
Check out a brief video overview below.
IGN spoke with Choi on the origins and design process of the Labo Fit Adventure Kart which Choi says was an idea he came up with while playing Tetris 99 a year ago.
“I’m not a very fitness-oriented person,” Choi tells IGN. “I don’t exercise regularly and I ate an entire Costco-size box of Oreos this past week. So I decided to set a challenge for myself: to pedal on an exercise bike during the entire duration of a Tetris 99 game.”
Choi says a game of Tetris 99, for him at least, felt like a good length for a cardio workout. But the idea came to him to take the concept even further. “What if I connected the exercise bike to the game somehow?” Choi wondered.
Enter the Labo Fit Adventure Kart and TAPBO robot. The TAPBO robot, which Choi explains in-depth in his full Nintendo Direct-style video here, is how the entire Labo Fit Adventure Kart concept works.
Essentially, the robot is connected to motion sensors in the exercise bike. When the pedals reach a certain speed threshold, the TAPBO will mechanically press the “A” button on the Joy-Con and accelerate your character in Mario Kart 8
. Meanwhile, pushing in on the Ring-Con will cause TAPBO to press the trigger button on the Joy-Con for items.
“I knew from the get-go that there would be at least two components: a module to press buttons on the Joy-Con and a bike that could detect your pedaling,” Choi says when asked about his early design ideas. “Early in development I realized it would be a ton of fun to steer and shoot items with the Ring-Con, so I decided to implement that as well.”
What makes TAPBO unique is that it is a feat of mechanical engineering, not a software hack, though we asked Choi why he opted to create a mini robot instead of some kind of home-brewed software to make his idea come to life.
Labo Fit Adventure Kart Design Gallery
“It’s no secret that Nintendo isn’t the biggest fan of people messing with their software, and the Bike-Con solution circumvents needing to emulate or modify any Joy-Con software or hardware,” Choi says. “It’s definitely possible to create a setup that doesn’t require a robot to press buttons; creators like Super Louis 64 have done exactly this to create Ring Fit mashups with [The Legend of Zelda] Breath of the Wild and even Mario Kart,” Choi adds.
But Choi’s passions lie with robots and he says the device serves as an homage to Nintendo’s own robot, R.O.B. Choi even 3D printed a custom TAPBO amiibo.
As for the future, Choi has some more fitness-focused ideas for TAPBO like creating a version that can hug the Switch console itself and force it to turn off if you stop pedaling on an exercise bike; or a rowing machine game to work with Super Mario Party.
But the TAPBO can also be used for non-fitness games and Choi says people have suggested re-tooling the robot for the upcoming Pokemon Snap game on Switch. “The possibilities are really endless, and I hope Nintendo continues experimenting with how to use Ring Fit and Labo accessories in more games.”
Matt T.M. Kim is a reporter for IGN.Source