It’s not unprecedented for Nintendo to launch a brand new system with just two games. The Nintendo 64 famously came out with only Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64. The former was an amazing achievement in all of video game history, while the latter was met with a lukewarm response, but many still have fond memories of it. With the launch of the Nintendo Switch, only two Nintendo published games were made available at retailers on day one: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and 1-2 Switch. Once again, the former is raking up unprecedented praise and excitement, while the latter is left to wilt in its shadow. The difference here is that 1-2 Switch most likely won’t be remembered fondly as the years march on.
The Wii came bundled with Wii Sports, which went on to propel the system to great heights. It was instantly accessible and any age group imaginable could have fun. Nintendo struggled to repeat that success with Nintendoland, a game that came bundled with the Wii U Deluxe System. I’d argue that game is actually a lot of fun and the games included are great for when you have a group of people over. The big problem was that the package was much more complicated and the games were more “videogamey” than the easy to understand and instantly recognizable nature of Wii Sports.
That brings us to 1-2 Switch, a compilation of short mini-games that straddles the line between Wii Sports and Nintendoland. The games are much more pick up and play, with very easy to understand rules and mechanics, but so incredibly weird and strange that some people wouldn’t be caught dead playing some of the games in the package. Activities range from milking cows to runway walking to even taking care of a baby. Some of the games are so wacky that it feels like the project started out as a Warioware title and morphed into this bizarre compilation of 28 games that even Ubisoft, at the height of is Nintendo DS “Imagine” line of games, would have only accidentally released after a heavy week of heavy drinking and hard partying.
In many respects, 1-2 Switch makes perfect sense as a launch game for the Nintendo Switch. It shows off the motion control and HD Rumble capabilities of the included Joy-Con controllers. The game can easily be played without a TV and is a local multiplayer experience, one that Nintendo typically excels at. It has this unique idea that the two people playing shouldn’t be looking at the TV or the Switch. Instead, the game wants you to look your opponent directly in the eyes and wait for the magic to happen. Some of the best games included are the ones that have been heavily promoted in various trailers and at on-hand events. My personal favorites are: Quick Draw, Fake Draw, Count Balls, Safe Cracker, and Treasure Box. The rest of the 28 games can die in a fire.
In both Quick Draw and Fake Draw, you face your opponent with a Joy-Con in your hand, which acts as your gun. You point it at the ground and wait patiently for the announcer to yell out “FIRE!”. Whoever is the quickest to pull the Joy-Con up and shoot will win. This is made trickier in Fake Draw as the announcer will yell out other words to try and trip you up and fire your gun prematurely. This is probably one of the best use-cases for “staring your opponent in the eyes” of all the games, and it’s easy enough to understand and fast to play.
Both Count Balls and Safe Cracker rely heavily on the Joy-Con’s HD Rumble capabilities. The first has some balls in a wooden box that you move around and rotate with the Joy-Con. As you do so, you can actually feel the balls roll from side to side. The goal is to try and figure out how many balls are actually in the box simply by feeling them collide with one another and with the sides. The sensation here is uncanny and really shows off how cool HD Rumble can really be. It’s a simple game, but one that never ceases to amaze those taking part.
Safe Cracker utilized the HD Rumble, but in a more subdued way. You’re trying to break into a combination safe, and as you twist the dial on the safe with your Joy-Con, you can feel each individual click. The goal here is to slowly move the dial until you feel a slightly different rumble. Keep the dial on that number for a second and it will register as the first number of the combination. The first player to open the safe wins.
Treasure Box is a fun little mini-game that has you bringing up a treasure chest from the water, but it’s all tangled up in a chain. Your Joy-Con represents the actual chest, so you’re trying to rotate it and move it in such a manner that untangles the chain. The first player to unwind the treasure wins.
There’s a host of other games at the ready. There are some truly awkward ones to play, like milking a cow, shaking a soda bottle to make it explode all over someone else, and air guitar, which just has you pretending to strum a guitar. In fact, many of these games feel like little kids with strong imaginations thought them up. Perhaps that’s the real problem here: lack of substance. Each game is over in just a minute or two, and they all feel shallow. You can literally buzz through each game in about a half hour, with little to no incentive to revisit them.
Of course, one huge differentiator with 1-2 Switch is that it is not included as a pack-in with the system. Nintendo insists that the price would have had to be higher for them to include a game with the Switch, so it opted to get the price below $300 and let the consumer choose which game they’d prefer to buy for themselves. That’s all fine and perfectly acceptable, but after playing every game in 1-2 Switch with multiple family members and friends, none of us can understand why the game is priced at $49.99. It just doesn’t deliver the goods at that price point. Every single person I’ve talked to after playing the game figured it was a probably a $20 game, with a few going even further saying it felt like a demo disc or a tech demo.
1-2 Switch has the potential to be a hit with an extremely young audience, or perhaps as a drinking game of some sort. So far I have yet to find that perfect storm of the right people, and I don’t know that many others will either. There’s simply not enough here to warrant the high purchase price, and the little fun that can be had is fleeting and quickly over. If anything, 1-2 Switch gave us a small glimpse into what the system is capable of and we eagerly anticipate what the developers of Mario Party or Warioware can concoct in the future.
1-2 Switch Review
- Graphics - 4/104/10
- Sound - 6/106/10
- Gameplay - 6/106/10
- Lasting Appeal - 3/103/10
Final Thoughts: MEDIOCRE
I love party games like Jackbox Collection, Game & Wario, certain Mario Party games, and others of that sort. I really gave 1-2 Switch a chance to shine and it just never did. While there is fun to be had here, it requires the right crowd and even then the games are so short and simple that any excitement had is short-lived.