Say goodbye to awkward silences. 1-2-Switch is the perfect party pleaser, an icebreaker to save any situation where a lacklustre conversation with that distant relative that you haven’t spoken to in several years continues to swirl in an ever concerning downward spiral.
With your Nintendo Switch readily prepared to rescue you, you can instead choose to lock each other squarely in the eyes, wielding a Joy-Con as you duel with imaginary pistols, swing a katana at one another, or run on the spot to reach a beach flag first.
1-2-Switch is a game that entertains most when played with a crowd, a shared experience that will raise as many smiles among those watching as with the two players that take each other on in increasingly embarrassing circumstances. It’s always important to never take yourself too seriously, and that is certainly the case here.
As with Wii Sports and Nintendo Land, in part, 1-2-Switch can be seen as a technical showpiece, presenting a concept that embodies what Nintendo has wanted to achieve with Nintendo Switch. That eliminates the need to look at a TV screen, and instead sees players focus their attention on interacting with one another. It’s a refreshing and differentiated experience to that seen on rival platforms, and once again sees Nintendo take a welcome stride in their own direction.
We now know that the Joy-Con pack some particularly sophisticated tech, with HD Rumble, the IR Motion Camera and advanced motion sensors once again seeing Nintendo explore new gameplay possibilities. In 1-2-Switch we can start to discover how these will be put to use, and the result is particularly promising.
There are 28 mini-games to choose from, each marked with red pepper icons that indicate how intense the gameplay will be. The more shown, the more involved players will have to be in whatever crazy antics await them. However, when you first start playing the selection is more limited, looking to familiarise players with the core experiences that will help introduce the Joy-Con to the world before widening out to those that are far wackier.
Once 1-2-Switch deems that you are suitably warmed up, the rest of the mini-games will unlock to deliver some welcome variety. These can either be freely explored, selected at random in 1-2-Switch Shuffle! or set out as a board game in Team Battle. This balances out well, but it came as a surprise that there is no option to line up a list of your favourite mini-games or play any in multiple rounds – especially considering how quickly each will come to a close.
Most of the mini-games will heartily entertain, but, as can be expected, there are a few that fall short. All involve some sort of humorously ludicrous physical task, and it’s certainly good to see Nintendo looking to get everyone off the couch again. Where Ball Count surprisingly confounds, Gorilla makes rhythmic mating calls and Runway will see you strut your stuff, others such as the poker-faced Sneaky Dice, tear-inducing Baby and quick grab Telephone don’t really hit the same mark. Nintendo has clearly looked to choose the best concepts, but there are certainly those that aren’t as enjoyable.
It was certainly a smart move to see these mini-games explained in short tutorial videos, enthusiastic actors demonstrating exactly what players need to do rather than bogging the experience down with unnecessary text. That is more important than most will give credit, especially at how these handily instruct players visually as to how the Joy-Con will be used in each mini-game. Seeing the actors have fun helps to encourage even those nervous to play to give it a go, which, in turn, soon shows just how enjoyable the game can be to newcomers.
But, it is in Team Battle that 1-2-Switch truly shines, a mode designed for between 2-20 players that will take around 30 minutes to complete. With mini-games littered along a board, each team will compete to see who can reach the finish line first. Winning a mini-game will reward the victor with the chance to spin the wheel, either seeing them speed along the board to select which they will compete in next or, if they land on a skull, sacrificing their turn to the opposing team. It’s surprising how competitive this can become and the laughter that ensues. Even Karen would soon become the life of the party.
Whether munching a sandwich or milking a cow, allow yourself to get lost in the silliness and 1-2-Switch soon becomes the perfect party game with friends. There are clear shortcomings, but there is enough to entertain and the game serves its purpose well in opening your eyes to what potential the Joy-Con and Nintendo Switch have in tandem.