With the launch of a new Nintendo console comes the mini-game gimmick showcase. It’s become a tradition. For the Wii, there was Wii Sports, and for the Wii U, there was Nintendo Land. Now with a brand new shiny system, Nintendo needed just the right game to show off what the Switch can do while keeping it casual enough that anyone can jump in and play with nothing more than a tutorial to set them up. So, there’s 1-2 Switch, a collection of mini-games designed to show off some of the hardware in Nintendo’s latest home console allowing players to square off against each other. While I can see this being a popular title, in the vein of Wii Sports, it lacks the same kind of wow factor that allowed the Wii’s launch title to take the world by storm. Still, for what it’s worth, there’s quite a bit of content packed into that tiny cartridge—28 games to be exact. But quantity doesn’t equate to quality, and what players are left with is something fun, but not quite the first impression you’d want from a console as exciting as the Switch.
Each title does a great job of showing off the different features for the console, and 1-2 Switch comes with that madcap Nintendo style that we’ve all come to know and love, but this really feels like a game that should have been packed in, not sold separately at an extra cost. This is more of a commercial for the potential of the Nintendo Switch rather than a full-fledged game like its predecessors, and it really comes across that way.
Still, there are some really fun mini-games that can make the next party a blast. “Soda Shaker” for instance will destroy friendships, and I love it. Imagine the “Hot Bob-Om” mini-game from Mario Party and Mario Party 2 but with a little less predictability. In this mini game, the Joy-Con is essentially a soda bottle, players shake the Joy-Con as much as they’d like, then pass it along when they think another shake will pop the bottle. HD Rumble plays a big part in this, as the feature actually does give off a fizzy feeling.
Another friendship tester is “Sneaky Dice”. This is a two-player game where players shake the Joy-Con as if they are rolling a dice in a bowl, then when they’re ready they gesture as if to flip the bowl over and wait for their opponent to do the same. In the form of rumbles, the player will know the number their opponent’s die landed on but not their own, there they can try to convince them to stay put where they are, or roll again. It encourages players to lie to each other, while also giving them insight into whom they should trust. Personally, I found out I’m a horrible person, and I need to re-evaluate my life.
The stars of the show will probably be “Fake Draw”, along with “Signal Flag”. Starting with “Fake Draw”, players must look each other in the eye with the Joy-Con at their waists pointing down and await the instruction of “fire”, with a few fake-outs thrown in there. If one player bites, they lose. This is a game that will get tons of replay value, and will be an instant fan favourite at any party. “Signal Flag” on the other hand is a simple Simon says, where the player follows the direction yelled at the screen with the Joy-Con. It gets tricky though, as one of the voices wants the user to do the opposite of his request, keeping players on their toes, paying close attention to who is speaking.
Then, there are a few titles that have potential to be great, but ultimately just miss the mark. Nintendo tried to re-create the magic of the Wii Sports tennis game with “Table Tennis” where players look at each other and follow the sound from the TV. While it is something that can be done, especially once you get a rhythm going, for the most part it feels like a guessing game. “Baseball” has that same issue, but worse as the sound cue really doesn’t help at all. In this game, there is a pitcher and a batter, and it’s exactly how you think it is, except the batter is at an insanely unfair disadvantage. Still, they have promise and work enough to be fun to an extent. It’s just unfortunate that they never really reach their potential.
While I can forgive Nintendo for trying and just missing the mark, there are some games that shouldn’t be included. For instance, “Eating Contest” shows off the camera/sensor at the bottom of the Joy-Con. In this mini-game, players hold the Joy-Con in front of their mouths and just open and close it until the time runs out. It keeps track (or at least tries to) of how many times you did, and registers each bite. Whoever eats the most Sandwiches wins. It’s an incredibly stupid game, and the tracker has issues even registering each bite.
Nothing is weirder than “Baby” however. In this borderline unsettling, creepy, and all around uncomfortable mini-game, players are tasked with soothing a baby, played by the Switch Tablet (complete with weird, baby face on screen), then placing it down, and walking away without waking the tiny terror. I’m sure it’s a fine game, but the premise is just so strange making me really dislike it.
Obviously there are more titles, but honestly, not all of them are that memorable. Of the 28 there are quite a few that are worth playing, it’s just that there are just as many that players will forget about. 1-2 Switch does come with a "Shuffle" mode though, so there is a bit of a roulette kind of charm when players choose that option. On top of that, there is a “Team Battle” option as well; allowing players to experience the game with a bit of a different take. And for those who aren’t as used to this newfangled gimmickry that is the Nintendo Switch, each game comes with a pepper rating to signify difficulty, making it known what kind of game users are getting into right away.
As far as mini-game compilations go, 1-2 Switch isn’t that bad, but it won’t tread on Wii Sports grounds any time soon. The fact that this isn’t a throwaway pack in title is absolutely astonishing, but despite that, there are some genuinely fun experiences lost inside this quagmire. Nintendo has a certain brand of quirky, and 1-2 Switch fits the bill perfectly. It’s relatively accessible for anyone and could be worth a good time at a party, but don’t expect Grandma to jump at the opportunity to play a round or two like she did in 2006.