Nintendo Switch gets a party game
Nintendo has a history of releasing controllers with innovative features. Wii Remotes introduced motion controls, Wii U GamePad gave us a tablet screen, and Nintendo Switch has its detachable Joy-Con controllers. However, with each new controller innovation Nintendo has faced the same question: how do they teach gamers to use them?
For Nintendo, the answer is simple: release a party game. Following in the lines of Wii Sports (Wii) and Nintendo Land (Wii U), comes 1-2-Switch for Nintendo Switch. This launch party game showcases the many features of the Joy-Cons, from their HD rumble, to the built-in IR motion camera.
I had a chance to sample 1-2-Switch at the Nintendo Switch Preview Event in January, but now I’ve spent a solid couple of weeks with the final game. Let’s take a look at what it has to offer!
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Release Date: March 3, 2017
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
1-2-Switch includes 28 minigames
Going into my 1-2-Switch review I really didn’t know what to expect. That’s because leading up to the game’s launch, Nintendo was curiously secretive about how much content the game includes. The game trailers highlighted just a handful of minigames, and at the preview event Nintendo let me play five of them.
The final game, as I found out, includes much more. 28 minigames to be exact. These range from everyday activities and sports, to fantasy-inspired showdowns featuring swords and wizardry. It’s a nice, well-rounded mix that appeals to a wide-range of tastes.
A face-to-face party game
When you begin playing 1-2-Switch, a modicum of minigames will be available. These include familiar ones like Quick Draw and Samurai Training shown in the debut trailer. Both games make use of the Joy-Con’s motion controls, and have you compete one-vs-one. Quick Draw is a wild-west gunslinger battle to see who has the fastest reaction time, while Samurai Training takes a more calculated approach by letting you choose when to strike.
What’s evident right off the bat is that there’s nothing like 1-2-Switch on the market today. It’s the first video game I’ve played that actively encourages you to not look at the screen. Most minigames are head-to-head and begin with the instructions to “look each other in the eye.” Because of this, 1-2-Switch becomes just as much as social dynamics and psychology as it is about the match-up themselves.
Encouraged to just have fun
Like Charades or Pictionary, 1-2-Switch is all about the friends and family you play with. If everyone gets into the game, you’re bound to have fun. The minigames themselves are pretty basic and last just a few seconds, so their main appeal lies in how participants react.
For example, when playing Samurai Training, my wife and I had a chuckle trying to psych each other out with verbal taunts and pretend strikes. Other games like Milk, which has you gesture as if milking a virtual cow, are awkward and hilarious by nature. Then there are downright silly minigames, such as Gorilla, where participants are graded on how well they beat their chests and act like an ape.
If you’re the type that likes your games night with friends to be filled with goofy antics and rib-tickling fun, then 1-2-Switch is right up your alley.
Excellent showcase of the Joy-Con controllers
As mentioned, 1-2-Switch seems designed primarily as an introduction to Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con controllers. And it does a great job at doing that. The minigames give you a nice tour of the features baked into the controllers, from the advanced HD rumble, to the IR motion camera.
As an example, the Ball Count minigame tasks you with counting how many pretend marbles are hiding inside your Joy-Con. You can actually “feel” the marbles smacking the sides of the Joy-Con with its immersive HD rumble feature. It’s very realistic, and everyone I’ve seen try it walked away highly impressed.
Another fun minigame called Soda Shake also relies on the controller’s HD rumble. Here you’ll shake a soda bottle (a Joy-Con held vertically) until it’s just about to explode, then pass it to a friend. The goal is to have the fizzy drink explode on your friend’s face, but if it doesn’t, they in turn get to shake the bottle and pass it back to you.
You can get a sense of how agitated the carbonated drink is by the rumbling bubble effects the controller produces—and again, it’s extremely realistic. Bubbles rise up through the controller from bottom to top, and the more you shake, the more unsteady your controller becomes. It exactly how you’d expect a real soda drink to behave after it’s been intentionally shaken. Again, very cool.
Joy-Con’s IR Motion Camera
Another interesting minigame is Eating Contest, which uses the Right Joy-Con’s IR motion camera. For this competition you hold the controller a couple inches from your face and chop as fast as you can, like you were in a hot-eating contest. It’s amazing how accurately the IR motion camera is able to track your mouth’s up and down motions and reflect them as “bites” in-game.
My record was 12 sandwiches eaten in about a minute, which is probably about 10 more than I’d be able to eat in a real contest like this. Thank goodness for video games!
Overall, I had a good time with 1-2-Switch. I am concerned though about its replayability—after one night you’ve seen everything the game has to offer. The minigames take less than five minutes each, and even with 28 to choose from, you’re looking at about four hours worth of content. There’s no ranking or progression system either, so your only option is to go back and replay games.
If you have guests over regularly for social nights, then I can see this game being a recurring hit. The minigames are fun in short bursts, and every time I played there were some good laughs. However, if you typically game solo or prefer social gaming online, then you might not get a lot of use out of the game. 1-2-Switch is only fun in groups, in fact only two of minigames even have the option to play alone.
1-2-Switch offers a nice showcase of the Jon-Con controller’s functionality. This includes the Joy-Con’s gyroscope, accelerometer, IR motion camera, HD rumble, and button layout. It’s also a good party game, so long as your social group enjoys gaming nights where it’s okay to goof around and act silly. In that case, you’re sure to have tons of fun with 1-2-Switch.
My only worry relates to the replayability: after you’ve played through the minigames the game doesn’t offer any incentives to replay them, other than simply redoing them for fun. Fortunately, most of the games are really fun to try, and a few of my favourites will keep me coming to play more.
+ Great tour of the Joy-Con controller
+ Fun and silly minigames
+ Perfect for parties with friends
+ Original game that’s never been done before
– No ranking or progression system to encourage replay
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (70%)
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