1-2 Switch Hands-On

Posted on January 16, 2017

1-2 Switch, one of the few launch titles for the Nintendo Switch when the console arrives on March 3rd, is an attempt at showcasing the newest console with a range of party games, not unlike Wii Sports for the Wii and Nintendo Land for the Wii U. We had a chance to get our hands on several of the mini-games involved in the package this past weekend at the special Nintendo event here in Melbourne, and the results are a bit of a mixed bag.

We got a chance to try six of the mini-games (and I really do mean mini) included in 1-2 Switch, but we were assured that there would be many many more when the full game launches. They all require you to use the Joy-Con controllers, one per person, in a variety of competitive challenges that try to inspire you to look away from the TV screen and instead engage with your partner.

Some games, while fun, didn’t actually show off the new technology of the HD Rumble as well as they could have. Quick Draw is your classic Western setup where the person to pull the trigger first when ‘SHOOT!’ is called gets the win. Samurai, quite similarly, has one player pretending to swing a sword at their opponent while the other must try to clap their hands to “catch” the sword before it connects (non-violently) with your face. These are nice distractions but really rely more on your reflexes as a human rather than your skill playing video games. This makes them enjoyable enough for parties, but not so great as a long-term engagement.

HD Rumble was a big part of the initial launch presentation for Nintendo Switch, so I was eager to really see what the fuss was about. Ball Count was by far the best example of this; holding the Joy-Con and pretending it was a small wooden box, you have to slowly move it in your hand to ultimately try and guess how many balls are inside. Once I started moving it around, I quickly got a sense for multiple balls rolling… no, seriously rolling around inside, as if there were literal ball bearings in the controller. I even shook it and the feedback was spot on. I was able to guess how many were inside each time, which proved to me that it was effective for those who had a good sense of touch.

I’m still not sure how the technology works (Nintendo haven’t really said yet either) but I was genuinely surprised and impressed. Safe Crack has you competing to try and turn a dial until you feel just enough pressure to click it into place and unlock a safe, while Table Tennis has you serving and hitting a virtual ball back and forth, relying entirely on sound and timing to get the best strike in. It worked surprisingly well and taps into that thing Nintendo does so well, by involving basic day-to-day actions and applying them to a game without getting too fidgety. I can see parents and kids alike enjoying these mini-games together and having a laugh as they take it in turns.

Then, there’s Milk. Rachel was insisting that squeezing milk out of a virtual udder was ‘not okay’, as you try to fill the most glasses you can before time runs out. I’ll try to make this as politically correct as possible: Simply squeezing (sorry) the triggers and pulling (sorry) in a slow downward motion, responding to the feedback from each squirt (sorry) gives you an idea of how much milk you’re filling (sorry). Simple as this was, it inspired giggles – especially when the Nintendo rep advised us that we should definitely try to “psych each other out”. Needless to say, after some dirty talk and self-touching that caused him to turn away completely due to being uncomfortable, it became clear to me that 1-2 Switch is a game that is intended to be silly, simple and fun, without the complications. Oh and I won, which proves that I have a far dirtier mind than the lovely Rachel, who needs more practice at her milking rhythm (sorry. So sorry).

The real trouble with 1-2 Switch is that if it came as a pack-in, I’d 100% recommend playing it. For $70 however? I just don’t know if there’s enough content there to really justify it. I think it’s a great showcase of the Joy-Con and what they do, along with a decent party game that would be hilarious to drag out after a couple of drinks (and even though I always recommend drinking responsibly, incorporating said drinks into the game itself would likely add another element to the affair).

Much like the Nintendo Switch itself, its genius won’t become clear unless you give it a try for yourself, but you’ll have to decide whether or not you’ll get enough value out of a collection of mini-games that last between 2-5 minutes each.