1-2-Switch Review – Fun with friends or not at all

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Mar 2, 2017
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Honestly, I’m still puzzled as to why this isn’t a pack-in game. We’ve heard it all before, but unlike Wii Sports and Nintendo Land before it, 1-2-Switch has even less in the way of traditional gameplay. Wii Sports had daily challenges and minigames, even Nintendo Land had a substantial number of missions that could be tackled solo, but 1-2-Switch… Well, if you try to play this solo, there’s not really anything there.

And that’s exactly why 1-2-Switch has to be one of the hardest games I’ve ever had to review, mainly because, it’s not a traditional game. There’s not really any 3D graphics to be rated, instead there’s static backgrounds, and live action tutorials demoing each of the 28 minigames 1-2-Switch has to offer. There’s not much in the way of expressive music, more sound effects and some background tunes to keep the mood of the game. But when it comes to gameplay it’s… Unique?

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Well, it’s definitely a unique game, using the JoyCon in unusual ways. One game has you unraveling a chained up treasure chest by rotating the JoyCon quickly, while another has you… Milking a cow, feeling the flow and pressure of the milk with the JoyCon’s HD Rumble. The ideas here are varied and… Pretty weird.

Another asks you to answer the phone – place the JoyCon on a desk, then answer it as quickly as possible. These are odd, but fun little examples of what the new tech in the JoyCon are capable of, and separately they’re quirky, but throwaway experiences. Now, as part of a group atmosphere, in a room full of people that understand how to use the hardware, 1-2-Switch gets very, very interesting.

I had a group of friends over to play 1-2-Switch, six of us total we split into two teams of three and played Team Battle, a mildly competitive minigame marathon where each team elects a player and the two face off in one of 1-2-Switch’s amusing sideshows.

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This is where all the magic happens; with the mild unfamiliarity with the devices at hand – the JoyCon – everyone is tentative and cautious about playing, giving us an amusing method of play. Games like Sneaky Dice involve bluffing your opponent into an unfavorable state, resulting in heated arguments and words being thrown across the room from both teams. Other games work best if you try to disrupt your enemy player, leaving some participants to get a bit cheeky. Ultimately, this is a game primarily designed for a party atmosphere – though how often you’re going to have a party of video game-friendly pals around for 1-2-Switch really is a mystery.

Though, credit where credit is due, 1-2-Switch does a great job of outlining the Nintendo Switch’s newest features. Guessing how many balls is in a box via HD Rumble alone is a fun experience that’ll try your patience. Rotating the JoyCon on its axis without wobbling it is a great test of how steady your hands are. Eating sandwiches with the IR camera is… Erm… Funny, I suppose?

That said, it’s worrying Nintendo don’t quite seem to know what they’re doing with their own hardware. HD Rumble and the various gyro and accelerometers have obvious uses in gaming these days, but even 1-2-Switch isn’t sure how to use the IR camera – a game, designed to highlight the uses of the console, failing to highlight the use of one of its own features? Absurd.

Other than that example, every minigame in 1-2-Switch does a great job of helping people enjoy themselves – together. Quick Draw has you fire at opponents as soon as you hear the call, but its variant has announcer shout words like “File! Fox! Fountain!” before calling the inevitable “Fire!” This wonderful system of fake outs really enhances the game by a massive degree, and is a fantastic ice breaker.

But again, when is the opportunity to get this console out? More casual or technophobic friends and family could easily play too, but I dread to think the exhaustion it’ll cause having to explain how to play each game, and what they’re doing wrong while playing. I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to play the game in the exact desired environment, in the home, with a few obstructions in the way, and a bunch of people having a great time regardless. But how many people will have that luxury, of playing the game in the intended environment, under the perfect circumstances?

For some, 1-2-Switch will be an essential game in the Switch line up. For others, it’s the exact opposite of what they want or need. Ultimately, if you’re looking for something to use the unique JoyCon functions, and you think you’ll be able to play multiplayer regularly, then 1-2-Switch is a great game, but if you’re primarily a solo gamer who plays online, then 1-2-Switch is going to be everything you don’t want in a game.

Review code provided by the publisher.

6.5

The value proposition isn't amazing, and would be a tough pill to swallow even if it were £1 per game. Solo, this is absolutely one to be missed, while players with siblings, flatmates, partners or regular gatherings might actually find this to be essential.

Pros

  • Good variety of games
  • Great to demonstrate the JoyCon features

Cons

  • Pointless solo
  • Not a pack in game?!
  • Expensive for what it is
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