Did you feel the balls?
When Nintendo’s Switch console launched, I, like many others, purchased Breath of the Wild alongside the hardware. If you’re an early adopter you also scanned over the scant collection of launch titles pondering what else to pick up to justify the purchasing of the Switch. You’ve got to admit, if you already are in possession of a Wii U, forking your hard-earned cash over for Breath of the Wild and Breath of the Wild only is just not a smart way to spend your money, that is unless you’re on the road more than your home and only have the ability to play mobile or handheld games. So when looking for something to justify the purchase of the Switch I wanted something that would show me exactly what Nintendo’s new hardware could do, and also something to show off to guests who wanted to see what this spiffy new hybrid console was all about. 1-2 Switch is the prefect title to introduce young and old gamers alike to a new and convenient way of playing video games.
1-2 Switch is a collection of 28 mini-games that act as a great introduction to what Nintendo’s Joy-Con controllers are capable of. HD rumble is front-and-center here, as you’ll be feeling for subtle vibrations when trying to crack safe, erratic vibrations when shaking a bottle of soda, and specific intricate vibrations that act as balls rolling back and forth within the controller. Motion also plays an important part in several of the mini-games but you can absolutely tell that Nintendo wanted to introduce players to what HD rumble is all about since most players already have been introduced to motion control with the Nintendo Wii. 1-2 Switch does do an outstanding job of showing Switch owners what the Joy-Con’s can do but does it have enough substance to be a full fledged game, or just an expensive way to demo Nintendo’s new console?
I find it hard to call 1-2 Switch a “video game”. Honestly, you don’t really need the screen most of the time to enjoy the title considering it’s mostly based off of audio cues, but you will need to glance at the console and/or your television to know who won whatever mini-game you’re playing. Upon first boot-up the player is introduced to only 5 games but before you know it all 28 mini-games will be unlocked. Once all the games are unlocked there is an option to let the software shuffle the games and pick one at random or 2-20 players can compete in “Team Battle” mode where 23 game tiles are placed on the screen sandwiched in between a start and finish tile. The team who wins the first game gets to spin a wheel with numbers and skulls displayed on it. Get a skull and the other team gets to spin, get a number and that determines how many spaces you advance to the next game tile. You’ll end up skipping over several game tiles so you’ll never know if you’ll be playing a game featured on the board or not. Whichever team makes it to the end tile first is the winner. That’s really all 1-2 Switch has to offer. It’s a small package for sure, but like most board games 1-2 Switch begs you to play multiple times.
The game’s interface is pretty sleek and the player can swipe through all the games one-at-a-time to find the game they’d like to play. It would have been a whole lot easier if there were an option to get all the games to be displayed on the screen at once considering if you want to get into a team battle you may have to sift through 28 games just to find it. The Nintendo charm is in full force when the actors are introducing the players to the game they’re about to play. They’re often silly and acting with just facial expressions, but it’s extremely cute is a weird sort of way. It will also give the players who are waiting their turn some fodder for a joke or two, depending on how cruel or funny your friends are.
The 28 games featured in 1-2 Switch range from great to meh. Rocking your Switch to sleep as its display shows a baby’s enraged or happy face is hilarious, especially when a young child with no patience is involved. The aforementioned Ball Count is a neat and a perfect way to show off the HD rumble feature, and Fake Draw” will get everyone chuckling as the Switch will yell words out like “fly” instead of “fire” to trick players into drawing their guns. But for every few good games a dud like Air Guitar will come along and show you that waving your hands around wildly will somehow end up giving you a high score even though you have no idea what you were supposed to be doing. I’m going to try something a bit different here and rate each game with our own 1-5 rating system. Depending on how well the mini-game works with the Joy-Con determines the score.
Telephone: Each player will set their Joy-Con down on the table and whichever picks up first to answer the ringing phone is the winner. This is a nice mini-game but it could have easily been done with a regular old Wii controller. 4/5
Ball count: The game most players know about. The Joy-Con acts as a box with marbles in it. The player must determine how many balls are in the box. 4.5/5
Zen: A yoga pose will be selected at random and the players must remain still while holding the pose. The person who moves the least is the winner. Again, this could have been done with a Wii controller. 4/5
Treasure Chest: The Joy-Con acts as a treasure chest wrapped up in a chain. The player who unravels the chest first wins. I’m not sure if this could have been done with a Wii controller considering the 360 degree turns that must be done to unravel the chest but it is extremely fun and quick paced. 4/5
Milk: One of the most hilarious games on 1-2 Switch. This, along with Ball Count, really takes advantage of the HD Rumble on the Joy-Con. Milk is the only game that truly relies on the Joy-Con strap that is included with the console. The other games that asked you to install the strap are doing so just to avoid broken TV sets due to thrown controllers, but Milk takes advantage of the extended button placement. 5/5
Safe Crack: Another mini-game that will show off HD rumble. The Joy-Con will slightly vibrate mimicking the turning of a safe dial and when the dial is on the correct number the rumble feature will slightly intensify. 4.5/5
Quick Draw: This is a pretty basic and simple game, but it’s really fun. Each player will hold a Joy-Con by his or her side and when the Switch yells “fire!” the first player to draw and press the trigger wins. 4/5
Samurai Training: Another basic motion control game where the one player will attempt to hit the other player over the head with a wooden sword and the other player must avoid being hit by catching the sword. If one of the players is taller than the other this game doesn’t work well at all. 2.5/5
Sneaky Dice: A fake-out game where each player rolls dice in a cup and when the cup is flipped over the player is notified on what their opponent rolled by way of vibrations on the Joy-Con. Whichever player rolled the highest number wins. The fake-out aspect here is trying to figure out if your opponent is telling the truth or not when hinting if you rolled high or low. Each opponent is allowed 3 extra rolls. I think the problem here is that the demonstration video shown doesn’t do a good job explaining the game. 2/5
Signal Flags: A fun game where a female and male yell out commands at the player on where to movie their Joy-Con. The best part is the player must do the opposite of what the male voice is commanding. What adds to the fun is each player is facing each other so trying to copy your opponent while deciphering if you should be doing the opposite of what your told is pure genius. 4.5/5
Soda Shake: This hot-potato like mini game takes full advantage of the Joy-Con’s HD rumble. The players will take turns shaking the Joy-Con causing the soda to bubble more with each shake. Eventually the cork will pop and whichever player is holding at this time either wins or loses. This is quite a confusing game. The player is not told when to pass the bottle and to make things even more baffling is the actor holding the exploding bottle in the demonstration video seems to be celebrating a win. 4/5
Shave: Each player uses the Joy-Con like an electric razor to shave their face to completion. Since there are no visual cues and only vibrations to alert the player how well they’re doing, it’s extremely hilarious to see the graphic at the end showing patches of whiskers the player missed. The issue with Shave is that most of the time I’d be shaving my eyes or even as far up as my forehead to get a 100% completion. I guess that actually adds to how fun this games is though. 4/5
Joy-Con Rotation: Each player gets 3 attempts to rotate the Joy-Con as much as they can while keeping it as level and steady as possible. If the Joy-Con tilts or moves too much the player loses their turn, which is a big deal considering his/her opponent get’s an extra attempt. I like this game a lot since the sounds the Switch makes as the Joy-Con is turning causes extreme anxiety. 4/5
Table Tennis: This surprisingly deep audio driven experience makes you actually feel like your playing a game of ping pong. The shoulder buttons on the Joy-Con can be held down to either smash the ball or gently tap it. The returning player must determine when to swing by using the audio cue of the ball hitting the table. First player to 5 wins. 4.5/5
Baby: The only game on the list that requires the Joy-Cons to be attached to the Switch. A baby’s face will appear on the Switch’s screen and the player must rock the baby to sleep. Once the baby is asleep the player must gently put the Switch down without waking the baby. Watching my daughter walk away from the Switch after she rocked the baby to sleep was heartwarming, that is until the baby started crying again and she had to start from square one. 5/5
Fake Draw: The same as quick draw but the Switch will yell out words that sound like “fire” to fake out the player. If you draw on a word like “flame” you lose and everyone will laugh at you. This will be a hit at most parties due to the words that are used to fake out the player. 4.5/5
Baseball: It’s the 9th inning and each player will get a turn to pitch and bat. Another game where the audio cues will determine the winner. The pitcher will have to decide to pitch a changeup or fastball and the batter must swing at the perfect time depending on the sound of the ball coming toward them. The downfall of this game is its randomness. Just as you think you knocked the ball out of the park some invisible fielder jumps up the wall and makes a miraculous catch. 4/5
Eating Contest: One of the few games that put the Joy-Con’s IR camera to use. The player must open and close his/her mouth as fast as possible and act like they’re eating a sandwich. Whoever can do this the fastest wins. It Sounds dumb but trust me, it’s fun. 4/5
Beach Flag: A cringeworthy game where the players must run in place to grab an invisible flag. If you’re the closest the Joy-Con will vibrate and must be help up in the air to win. Just shaking the controller is all you will need to do to win this game. It’s pointless and looks awkward. 2/5
Wizard: The Joy-Cons act as wands and the players must thrust the wands power toward one another. The trick is to time the perfect counter to your opponents thrust. This sounds corny on paper but is surprisingly entertaining. 4/5
Sword Fight: I have no idea what’s happening in this game. One trigger is used to defend and the other is to attack. Thrust your sword vertically or horizontally to strike your opponent. It didn’t matter what was done in this game. It all seemed random and confusing. Just swing your arms around and eventually someone will be out of a life bar and you can move on to the next game. 1/5
Boxing Gym: The Switch will yell straight, uppercut, hook, and rapid punch out and the player must follow the instruction. It’s a pretty basic game but one of the most physical. 4/5
Plate Spin: Both players will begin spinning a plate on a stick. Rotate the Joy-Con controller to keep the plate spinning. No matter what I did I couldn’t figure out how to keep my plate from falling off the stick. 2/5
Copy Dance: 4/5 One player poses and the other must copy the pose. Not much more to say but it’s pretty fun especially when playing a kid who makes up random dance moves. 4/5
Runway: Start of opposite sides of the room and cross paths walking to the other side. Sway your hips from side-to-side to get as many points as possible. If you didn’t do well, don’t worry because there is a pose off at the end. Walking like you pooped your pants will guarantee a win. Trust me on this. 5/5
Air Guitar: Another game where luck is needed. I couldn’t figure our how points were distributed but whoever moved their hands the quickest won every time. The best part about this mini-game is the music. 2/5
Dance Off: Yet another “move your hands as fast as possible” game. The key here is to stop at the end of the beat. Not that great but fun if you want to show off your sick dance moves while holding a video game controller. 2/5
Gorilla: This one is a real gem. Beat your chest to the rhythm and whom ever does best gets to jump in the bushes with a female gorilla that makes some risqué noises. It’s fun and will make everyone in the room look at each other funny when bushes start to shake. I suggest the winner beat their chest and put their hands in the air during the victory screen for a little secret. 4.5/5
So, giving these games a glance over, you’ll see that there are only a handful of duds but I still can’t justify telling someone to spend $50 on what is basically a demo disc. I think Nintendo missed out on a perfect pack-in game opportunity and a great way to introduce gamers to what is new about the Joy-Con and the system as a whole. Taking 1-2 Switch out of the dock and to a party sounds convenient, but it’s not something I see myself doing. However, if you’re one to be at quiet parties often, this is probably a perfect game for you.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: Nintendo Switch, Publisher: Nintendo ; Developer: Nintendo; Players: 1-20 ; Released: March 3rd, 2017 ; ESRB: E for Everyone ; MSRP: $49.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a retail copy of 1-2 Switch.