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Review

1-2-Switch Review

Look me in the eyes.

While many are dazzled by the sheer brilliance of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it’s not the only game Nintendo are releasing for the Nintendo Switch launch. 1-2-Switch is the party game to Breath of the Wild’s sweeping adventure, it’s a short burst of fun compared to something you can sink hours into at a time. It’s even a game that eschews graphics in a lot of its mini games, instead asking you to stare your opponent in the eye and try to put them off as you listen for audio cues.

Though there’s 28 games included in the game, it initially limits you to just eight in order to show you the ropes, which I found particularly confusing while trying to skim through everything on offer for the first time. It invariably starts you off with Quick Draw, the game’s iconic Western themed gundown, before letting you cycle through Ball Count, the snicker-inducing Soda Shake and several others.

There’s a wonderful level on ingenuity throughout, making use of the many capabilities of the Joy-Con controllers. It could be feeling the inner mechanism in a safe’s lock via the HD Rumble, having you try to keep a steady hand as you hold a yoga pose, trying not to disturb the sensitive motion sensors, or using those same sensors to track fast movements in time with the game, such as beating your chest to try and woo a lady gorilla. There’s also the much, much more outlandish, like making biting motions with your mouth in front of the IR sensor to chow down on as many sandwiches as possible in Eating Contest.

A few of the games are variations on a theme, so Copy Dance has one player pulling poses which the other then tries to copy, while Runway has you strutting your stuff, going back and forth before pulling poses to close out the show. Better than Quick Draw is Fake Draw, in which the gruff man’s voice might yell “Fish!” or “Fake!” and you try not to be fooled until he shouts “Fire!” The games are often as much about listening as they are making certain motions, and as it encourages you to stare into your opponents eyes, it’s easy to be put off or get caught up in your own attempts to distract them.

The real problem with 1-2-Switch isn’t that it costs £39.99 or that it wasn’t bundled with the console, nor is it the brevity of the game modes and that there’s “just” 28 to choose from, it’s that every single mode works differently and needs to be explained.

So imagine 1-2-Switch in the party setting that Nintendo have envisaged throughout their pre-launch trailers. You take the Switch over to that rooftop party that’s full of similarly beautiful people, the music’s on, the drink is flowing, everybody’s chatting and having a good time. A great time to break of a party game and have some fun. Except that Dom hasn’t played Gorilla before and has to watch and listen to the instruction video for a minute or two, Jim’s bored by the time you put the wrist strap on so you can play Milk (un)comfortably with Aran, and Tuff just can’t quite make out the sounds of Baseball or Table Tennis over the general hubbub of the party.

For a game that’s focussed around these short bursts of fun, from 10 seconds of tension in Quick Draw to a few minutes of rhythmic strumming and rocking out in Air Guitar, it’s a surprisingly stilted experience. It’s not just those introductory videos – after the first viewing, they can be skipped – but also that a number of the games tell you to attach the Joy-Con wrist strap, only to then be told to take them off again for the next game. The somewhat terrifying Baby requires you to cradle the console in your arms and bounce it around before setting it down gently. It’s one of a kind and you need to attach the controllers to the console in order to play.

Worse than that, if you simply want to play a game again, you get taken back to that game’s front screen, have to signal you’re both ready to play and then skip past the explanation screen before you can have another go. If it takes you longer to set up a rematch than it does to play it, something’s not right.

It’s a shame because when you do get that right party atmosphere, 1-2-Switch can be a lot of fun. Have it as the centre of attention with half a dozen people eating, drinking and playing the game’s Team Battle, and there’s banter flying back and forth, tension, cheering at successes, bemoaning the obviously completely unjust scoring system for any loss.

Team Battle’s set up is pretty straightforward, letting you split yourselves up into two teams and go head to head. After a round win, the winner then gets to spin a wheel and this determines how many squares they move, with whatever mini game they land on being the next you play. It keeps things close by sometimes replacing higher numbers on the wheel with a skull, and if you land on this, it’s the other team’s opportunity to spin the wheel instead. It feels a bit cheap that, when you’re just one or two steps away from victory, the baton can be passed to the other team and let them sweep past you at the final hurdle. Then again, Nintendo also came up with the first place bomb in Mario Kart. They have history with this kind of thing…

What’s Good:

  • Lots of inventive uses of the Joy-Con controller
  • Really shows off HD Rumble’s potential
  • Team Battle makes for a good fun party mode
  • Staring deep into someone’s eyes as you milk a cow
  • All the euphemisms and awkwardness

What’s Bad:

  • Each game needs to be explained
  • Restarting games takes too long
  • Needing to add or remove wrist straps between games

For all its good ideas, inventive uses of the Joy-Con and potential as a fantastic party game, 1-2-Switch has just as many fumbles that make it far from an essential Switch launch title. It can be a lot of fun, but it fails to keep you in the moment, takes too long to explain and set up each game, and no amount of immature giggling at euphemistic games can manage to rescue it from itself. It might be quick on the draw, but what follows is more of a confused fumble.

Score: 6/10

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One Comment
  1. The Lone Steven
    Never heard of him.
    Since: May 2010

    For a gimmicky party game, I was expecting it to recieve a lower score and be average. Bit surprised that it’s just above it. If Nintendo is really serious about using the Joy Con as a main feature, use boxing. It worked for the Wii and surely, they can bring back the Wii Sports range. Sounds like the Joy Cons would be perfect for it. Or a bunch of random disney products in a complication that is quite fun. E.g. Star Wars for Jedi battles, generic dancing game, erm……., er….

    Bugger, I thought knew more then that.

    Having to remove the straps between games is baffling. Why is this a thing? I mean, it’s a strap. Did they not learn with the early Wii remotes? Little johnny won’t be happy that he accidentally destroyed his parents 4k TV because the joy cons went flying out of his hands.

    Come to think of it, it’s surprising that there isn’t a single Mario or Zelda related minigame in this.

    I get the feeling that a certain TSA writer known for smut is going to do something smutty with it at some point in time.

    Comment posted on 02/03/2017 at 16:43.