“Hey let’s go play that game where you milk a cow while staring deep into my eyes.” seems to be the type of dialogue Nintendo wants to create with their Switch launch game, 1-2-Switch. It’s a quirky, party style game that is clearly meant to draw in a more mainstream audience to Nintendo’s new console akin to what Wii Sports once did. Could this be the next game that will be at every party in 2017 as Guitar Hero did back in the late 2000s? Probably not.
One of the best parts of 1-2-Switch is that after you play the half-dozen levels initially available, the entire game unlocks giving you access to all 28 games right away. Each mini-game is unique and rated from 1 to 5 peppers to indicate the level of activity required to play the game. You can either select your mini-game from the menu, play them by random or go into Team Battles which would break your party up into 2 teams and have you face off against each other in a series of games. The game is presented in a way that you can pop this in during a party and be playing a game nearly instantly without the need to navigate any menus. Before each game, there’s an instructional video showing actors playing the game to help players understand how to play. Luckily this is skippable, so you won’t always have to watch it.
The mini-games themselves are played by mainly using 1 Joy-Con per player and are usually completed within a minute. They range from being genuinely fun, to outright awkward and bland. The more fun games tend to require more skills. For example, there’s a game where you face off against each other holding your controller down like a gun. A voice in the game will then say “ready, aim” and after a random interval of time “fire!” at which time players must draw the Joy-Con like a gun and push the shoulder button to “shoot” the opponent. The winner will be decided on who drew the quickest. Another skill based game requires players to hold the Joy-Con with both hands as though they were holding a chain wrapped treasure chest. The first player to completely unravel the chain from the treasure chest is then declared the winner.
These skill based type of games are great for party scenes, and the larger the audience, the more fun the game. It’s one of those simple and quick type of challenges that arouses curiosity and invites anybody to try their hand at proving they’re the more skilled player.
About two thirds of the games fall into the fun category while the remaining third are just poorly executed ideas. In one game, players are asked to play the air guitar, however there’s no wrong way to play. You literally just wiggle your Joy-Con in any way you like and don’t even see how you score until the end. In another game players are asked to face each other and play ping pong judging where the ball is just by sound. It’s awkward, extremely inaccurate and just not fun.
Some of the games do a great job at showing off the new tech found in the Joy-Cons such as HD Rumble and the IR motion tracking camera. In one game, HD Rumble is used to simulate the feeling of balls moving around inside player’s Joy-Cons and they need to guess how many balls are inside. This experience is really impressive as it genuinely feels like there are actual balls moving around inside the Joy-Con. In another game, the IR motion tracking camera is used to determine how many sandwiches you can eat within a set time. It’s a silly game and sure to make the room fill up with laughter.
Unfortunately 1-2-Switch will find little use outside parties. There are no human vs CPU mode to play the game alone and even playing 2 players gets old quick. The game really only shines in a room full of people looking to have fun. This limits the game’s potential reach. Even moreso considering that the game comes in at a full price of $50 USD. I have no idea how Nintendo can justify selling such a simple and limited experience at a full price, but I would find it a hard product to sell to anyone at that price. I feel the game would of been a perfect pack-in game for the Switch to help show off the Joy-Cons capability and encourage people to take their Switch units out to parties and attract more interest for the console. Even at $10 or $20 it would be easier to swallow but not $50.
1-2-Switch introduces another entirely new concept in how you play video games, and that’s by not looking at the screen but looking into your opponent’s eyes. I first played the game with some acquaintances I wouldn’t necessarily call friends and I have to admit that being forced to stare into someone else’s eyes while playing a silly mini-game feels absolutely weird. I can’t imagine that many people would be comfortable playing this outside of their friend circle. On the other hand, I could argue that the game serves as a great ice breaker to meet new people as it’s hard not to connect with someone after staring into their soul while you competitively milk a cow.
If you’re into regularly hosting or attending parties then yes, 1-2-Switch is a game for you and you’ll get your money’s worth out of it. However if you’re thinking of picking this up to play with the family on weekends, you’ll find the game collecting dust fairly quick. The mini-games get old fast and the game gets exponentially less fun with less people. Top that off with its significant price point and you can be sure that 1-2-Switch will be filling up bargain bins within months.