Nintendo consoles are always considered by many to be the best choice for casual gamers and people looking for great multiplayer titles to play with friends and family. Although this is not the company’s sole clientele – as evidenced by the popularity of Breath of the Wild – it is certainly their largest. The family-friendly aspect of their consoles is their unique selling point in a way. It’s should come at no surprise, then, that when the Nintendo Switch was released last month, one of it’s major titles was a game tailored to this audience.
Entitled 1-2-Switch, it’s essentially the successor to the company’s popular multi-player games like Wii Sports and Nintendo Land which were also launch titles for their respective consoles. It features a selection of mini-games which utilise the Joy-Cons and require players to interact with one another in an innovative way – playing face to face. This may not seem particularly groundbreaking, but given that video games require players to focus on what’s happening onscreen, it certainly makes for a unique experience.
There are twenty-eight mini-games all total, all ranging in levels of difficulty and exertion, and almost all exclusively requiring at least two players. Some of them require quick reflexes to succeed, while others are more focused on rhythm and enthusiasm. No matter which mini-game you play though, there’s almost one thing that’s certain – it’ll be embarrassing.
1-2-Switch is not a game for those who are afraid to laugh at themselves around others. The focus on maintaining eye contact while dancing, shaving or milking cows heightens the unnerving feeling already created by staring directly at someone for a period of time. Why does it feel so weird? That would be because connecting with people away from media and technology is such a rarity these days that it feels unnatural to have this level of contact with them. The reason that this game is so innovative is because Nintendo is reviving the nostalgia of gaming before technology was a core part of people’s lives, while still technically being a video game.
It’s after several plays of 1-2-Switch, when the awkwardness has given way to competitiveness, that the game really starts to shine. The short duration of the mini-games keeps the excitement alive and can often be the cause of longer play sessions due to the desire for multiple rematches. The quirkiness of strutting your stuff on an imaginary runway and beat your chest like a gorilla keeps the atmosphere lighthearted and almost demands the room be filled with laughter. It makes for an amazing ice-breaker.
Unfortunately for the game, it’s far from perfect. A large part of the game’s enjoyment is reliant on everyone wanting to be involved in the experience. If you’re playing this with a group of friends who aren’t getting into it, then none of you are going to have fun. 1-2-Switch demands a certain level of enthusiasm from players in order to be worthwhile, and even having one debby-downer in the mix can put everyone else if. It’s a lot harder to forget how much of a fool you look if there’s someone there clearly pointing it out.
Some of the game’s benefits can also be their downfalls. The short playtime for a number of mini-games can make them become boring quite quickly and ultimately lose their spark in just a few days. After a while the game as a whole loses a lot of its replay value, especially because it lacks any sort of progression or accomplishment that was present in other Nintendo multiplayer games like Nintendo Land and Wii Party. With Mario Kart 8 Deluxe set to be released at the end of April, it’s hard to see most Switch owners choosing to play 1-2-Switch with their friends and family when they have that as an alternative.
What’s more, a lot of the (justified) critcism surrounding the release of 1-2-Switch was that it was not included as a bundle with the console. Nintendo have declared their reasoning for this and it’s understandable, but so too is the fact the game doesn’t live up to the price tag. It provides a perfectly enjoyable experience, but it lacks the same depth that other similarly priced titles have. Essentially it’s a game you’d be happy to play if it was there in front of you but you wouldn’t be inclined to go out of your way to get it.
So in a way, 1-2-Switch is both one of the best and worst games Nintendo could have produced for its new console. The gameplay style, while simple, is unique to this game and could prove to be the first of many successful multiplayer titles created in a similar vein. However, although it’s a great first step for the Switch’s future in party gaming, 1-2-Switch does not stand out enough to be a great game in it’s own right. If other titles using the same mechanics are made in the near future, this game may prove to have a very short self-life.