When a gaming console launches, especially one with unique input methods, there's invariably a title meant to demo the tech on hand. Consider the Wii's launch, and you should instantly think of the lightning-in-a-bottle that was Wii Sports.
When the Kinect launched, it had titles like Kinectimals, Kinect Adventures and Kinect Sports.
With the PlayStation Move, we had games like Kung Fu Rider.
Apart from Wii Sports, that roster of hardware defining tech showcase software shares a common theme: the games aren't very good.
It's hard to balance showing off what a new system can do with fun. These games often become quick carnival rides; they're entertaining for a bit before the excitement wears thin and customers wish they were at a better theme park. Or doing something else entirely, quite frankly.
Unfortunately for Nintendo, 1-2-Switch is sort of a mess of missed opportunity.
Of the 28 minigames here, like 7 are compelling
1-2-Switch as at its best, and I use that term loosely, when it's doing something different. I didn't expect Nintendo to invent completely new ways to play with what are simply, at times, Wii Remote Plus controllers with better rumble. However, far too many of these games feel like something a small third-party studio would have crammed into a cleverly named Wii game to push out yet another piece of shovelware.
Games like Beach Flag, Wizard, Samurai Training, Shaver, Milk and Dance Off feel a decade old in their design, and they aren't even particularly clever. Shake the Joy-Con, pull the Joy-Con, point the Joy-Con… you get the point.
When 1-2-Switch is fun, it's challenging players with games that are perfectly pressured for the party atmosphere. I don't care if it's through the sometimes-convincing HD Rumble found in Ball Counting or Safe Crack. With these games, you have to closely pay attention to the way the Joy-Con rumble for clues on what's going on.
Then there are games that would have easily worked on aging platforms, but are clever enough to stand on their own. There's Telephone, where you must pick up the Joy-Con by listening for aural cues while competing against your friends. Then there's Quick Draw and Fake Draw that force you to stare down your buddy or family member while waiting for the right aural cue. These are fun games that offer something a little different and are welcome in medium-sized groups.
It's just a shame that they're a rarity in this game. For the price, the selection is bogus.
1-2-Switch, through its price point and its quality, is ultimately bad for the Nintendo Switch. Were it only $10 or $20, I don't think I could feasibly make this argument. If the game were a Nintendo Switch pack-in like Wii Sports, I'd even suggest it was a decent one.
With an MSRP $49.99, 1-2-Switch deserves the flak it gets. $50 puts it alongside much bigger, much better games. With 28 minigames in 1-2-Switch, each attraction costs just shy of $2. That's too much for some of these games. Some of these games will be played once and never again. Heck, if you're like me, you'll want to pass on some based simply on what they look like.
I couldn't. I tried them all. I was not a fan.
Furthermore, 1-2-Switch is exactly the type of game that elicited comments like "so it's like the Wii" from my friends. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but for someone looking for a reason to pick up a Nintendo Switch, 1-2-Switch does a great job negating that drive to purchase.
If 1-2-Switch hits $10 or $20 and you're looking for a party game, I'd say it's a fair purchase. At $49.99 (or even the $39.99 mark it's hitting at some retailers already), 1-2-Switch is not a good buy.
It's a collection of mediocre minigames at its best, and other times it captures everything we hated back in the age of Wii waggle shovelware.
No thank you.
Disclaimer: We purchased 1-2-Switch with company funds for this review.
Here are the minigames in 1-2-Switch. I put the decent ones in bold.
- Air Guitar
- Ball Counting
- Beach Flag
- Boxing Gym
- Copy Dance
- Dance Off
- Eating Contest
- Fake Draw
- Joy-Con Rotation
- Plate Spin
- Quick Draw
- Safe Crack
- Samurai Training
- Signal Flag
- Sneaky Dice
- Sword Fight
- Table Tennis
- Treasure Chest