IN THE past 20 years Nintendo, a gaming-console company, has endured the sort of ups and downs associated with Mario, its beloved jumping plumber. A decade ago it briefly leapt above its main competitors, Microsoft and Sony, thanks to the success of the Wii. The platform was typical of Nintendo’s efforts to appeal to a wide range of casual players with an unusual product. The graphics were blockier and the games simpler than those of Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation, which are preferred by hard-core gamers. But the motion-tracking technology was revolutionary, turning living rooms into tennis courts and racing tracks. Queen Elizabeth was reportedly among the 100m remote-wielding owners, along with her grandchildren.

In the long run, however, such radical innovation has proved to be a hit-and-miss strategy. The GameCube, the Wii’s predecessor, allowed players to connect their handheld Game Boys and even compete online, but it sold barely 20m units, thanks in part to a limited range of games. The Wii U, a touchscreen model that appeared in 2012, suffered a similar fate. After several years of declining revenues, Nintendo fans wondered whether the Switch, which launched in 2017, would produce a new lease of life—or game over.

Initial results suggest that it deserves a gold star. In its first year the Switch, which can be used as a standard console, a tablet or a remote control, sold 16m units, more than the Wii U managed in five years. Yet the versatile electronics are far from the only attraction. This week Nintendo released Labo, a set of cardboard templates that allow gamers to enhance the Switch with their origami skills. Among the customised “toy-cons” are an extendable fishing rod, a body-fitting robot kit and a piano with working keys. While other software firms are exploring virtual reality, Nintendo is reminding youngsters how to play in the real world. 

After positive reviews and strong sales IHS Markit, an industry analyst, predicts that the Switch could outsell the Xbox in 2018 and PlayStation the year after. If the forecasts are right then Nintendo might at last have moved a level up. 

We have followed Nintendo’s lead and created a 3D cut-out-and-create chart of console sales. Try it for yourself by following these simple steps: 

1. You'll need scissors, glue and a printout of our template (two sheets of A4)

2. Cut out the chart background and the shapes for at least three consoles

3. Fold and glue as indicated. It's easier if you score along the fold-lines first

4. Insert your console-sale bars. There are 84 combinations