Available on: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Nintendo made an incredibly smart decision in 2006 when they bundled in Wii Sports with their Wii console as a way of showcasing its accessibility and functionality. The gamble clearly paid off, as the Wii went on to sell a staggering 101 million units during its 9-year lifespan.
It appears Nintendo is trying to capture lightning in a bottle twice, once again compiling a series of mini-games that this time serves to use the Switch’s new Joy-Con controller in interesting ways.
All 28 of 1-2-Switch’s short-burst mini-games are meant to be played locally by a group of people sharing each of the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers. Rather than staring intently at the TV screen, players are often asked to gaze into each other’s eyes while instead using touch and sound as impulse signals.
One game, in particular, uses the new HD rumble feature by asking each player to slowly rotate their Joy-Con in order to guess how many marbles are rolling around inside, while another has you following along with a shouting announcer for a quick game of Simon Says.
Clearly, 1-2-Switch shares more commonality with something like WarioWare than Wii Sports. None of the games last longer than a minute or two, so there’s not much to hold the player’s attention quite like bowling or tennis did back in 2006. Where Wii Sports offered accessible, familiar games that were perfect for social gatherings, 1-2-Switch’s reliance on sound will no doubt hinder its appeal to a group of loud, potentially drunk friends–likely exacerbated when played undocked, let alone outside of the house. Hell, my girlfriend and I were sober and we couldn’t reliably keep track of the sound with a fan running nearby.
Some of the mini-games are more interesting than others, but neither of us felt the desire to play a majority of them more than once or twice. We both enjoyed the aforementioned marble game, but after three or four goes we’d had enough.
One of the more intriguing options has you taking turns furiously shaking a bottle of soda with the goal of having it explode in the other player’s face–which, of course, led to juvenile masturbation/handjob jokes, because of course it did. We revisited the same tired jokes later as we repeated the stroking motions while milking a virtual cow. Another game has each player frantically rotating the Joy-Con in order to unravel a treasure chest wrapped in chains, which is the only one I recall having to look at the TV for.
Intriguing or not, none of these kept our interest longer than a few rounds and neither of us is eager to revisit them anytime soon.
Since Nintendo wants to show off their new Joy-Con technology, a lot of the games use them in different ways. Typically we held them in our hands while shaking, slicing, and dancing, but some of them needed the Joy-Con straps on, while others did not. Sliding them on and off is a bit of a hassle when playing the randomized assortment of mini-games, but there’s even one that requires you to reattach both controllers to the Switch and cradle the unit like an infant.
Again, these are short-burst mini-games meant to be played socially by groups of people–some of which will no doubt be new or at least unfamiliar to the world of gaming, let alone a new console. Fiddling with the Joy-Con between games wasn’t engaging and I had a hard time selling my girlfriend (an avid gamer) on the idea of a video game you don’t even look at.
Nintendo is known for experimentation and imagination and 1-2-Switch serves to showcase the Switch’s Joy-Con functionality. Unfortunately for Nintendo, it just isn’t fun. It’s even more unfortunate for the consumer, however, since it feels like nothing more than a mediocre pack-in title full of disappointing demos, at the absurd cost of $49.99.
So, where’s the final score? There isn’t one. I spent a lot of time conveying my opinion in the above text, and I hope that’s worth more to you than some arbitrary number or a sequence of shaded-in star shapes. Basically, I’m not a fan of scores so I no longer use them. Read the review and judge for yourself if the game is worth your time and money.
Full disclosure: This review was done using a Nintendo Switch copy of 1-2-Switch that I paid for myself. While I’m sometimes given games to critique, I pride myself on providing an unbiased review to fellow consumers, along with constructive feedback to hard working developers and publishers. Whether or not I pay for a game is irrelevant.