It caught us all by surprise – a sequel? When the Switch launched in March 2017, there were only two multiplayer titles published by Nintendo. One of these, Snipperclips, was generally well-received. The other was 1-2 Switch, a party-style game which at the time felt like more of a showcase of the Switch’s features than a full-priced experience. Six years later, Nintendo have given it a second go with Everybody 1-2 Switch, a sequel that promises a much bigger party.
While the original title focused entirely on the unique properties of the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers, Everybody 1-2 Switch instead allows players to scan a QR code and use a smartphone as a controller. This opens up a huge number of possible gameplay configurations, the biggest being the option to include up to one hundred players in certain games at once. It also allows games to use smartphone features such as the camera, gyroscope, and touchscreen to present unique interactions beyond what would be possible with a controller.
Checkpoint’s Luke and David attended a launch event for the title hosted by Nintendo. Alongside a group of journalists, industry professionals, and influencers, they were able to try out some of Everybody 1-2 Switch’s game modes with a large group. The chaos of dozens of people swinging their smartphones around to summon aliens was a sight to behold, and they’ve since had the chance to try out the title with their own friends at home.
David: It’s been fairly evident from the shiny, influencer-filled launch trailers that Everybody 1-2 Switch is made for a world that has changed dramatically since the console launched six years ago. Its tone is incredibly bright and sanitised, borrowing the trappings of a chaotic party experience but never allowing any actual mess – it’s definitely not WarioWare. Elements of familiar party games echo throughout many of its design decisions, acknowledging that players are more likely to have played something like Jackbox at least once in the last few years. It makes its main drawcard – having up to a hundred players participating at once – a pretty incredible point of difference from other titles, which usually provide simplified gameplay or spectator-only modes when player counts rise into the dozens.
“One friend compared the experience to completing an e-learning module at work, while another simply asked ‘who is this for?’”
Unfortunately, situations where a hundred people want to play Everybody 1-2 Switch together may prove few and far between. Getting a few friends together to try out some of its game modes, we quickly found the lack of accessibility options and slow pacing killed the vibe. It’s incredibly jarring to play a brand new game where so much text (including gameplay instructions) is not subtitled, and the fact that you need to “unlock” specific games by randomly finding them in the main party mode means that you could be wading through some of Everybody 1-2 Switch’s worst content right from the start.
After around fifteen minutes, we had played a quiz game with all the challenge of those “a cow says moo” toys, a game about flipping steaks and counting, and a colour-matching game that used our phone cameras and would have been a cute novelty if it hadn’t been randomly selected twice. One friend compared the experience to completing an e-learning module at work, while another simply asked “who is this for?”
It is very fun to be able to choose your own profile picture, react to events with emojis, and type messages in between rounds – however, I’m also confused as to who Everybody 1-2 Switch is for. I could picture a teacher bringing it in for the kids to play on the last day of term, or next to a Just Dance stage at a gaming convention, but as a console release on a platform that already has such an excellent line-up of party games, it’s difficult to see what sets this title apart.
Luke: What struck me about Everybody 1-2 Switch was that immediately, in a big group setting in the event we were invited to, it was fun. At a glance and without being too analytical or critical, the games that are included require you to do a bunch of silly physical activities with your friends, which could result in some laughs. But it doesn’t take long to look just a little bit closer at the execution and start asking questions. David already touched on the fact that you have to randomly wait for games to come up in its main mode before you can select them separately. That right there is a barrier for entry, forcing players to take part in stupid games just to get to a couple of decent ones.
What made the original 1-2 Switch kind of cool was the fact that it showed off the Joy-Con controllers in unique ways, and that’s only present in about five games included in this 17-game package. Most are rehashes of what we have already seen; deflecting ninja stars with a sword seems fun at first, and the trailer would lead you to believe that you have to run around the defender, forcing them to look at all angles. In practice, it’s all about the sound coming through the Joy-Con, and the direction of the attack doesn’t matter, so it becomes a listening game instead. Joy-Con Hide and Seek is creative enough, where you literally hide the controller in the house somewhere as part of the game.
“Pretending to be in an auction house, trying to remember flavours of ice cream or, I kid you not, a classic game of Bingo…”
But the variety of games where players can use their smartphones just isn’t interesting enough to hold the attention of a group for more than a few minutes at best. Pretending to be in an auction house, trying to remember flavours of ice cream or, I kid you not, a classic game of Bingo just aren’t the party starters I was hoping for. Don’t even get me started on squats or jump rope; if I wanted to exercise, I would pull out my Ring Fit Adventure, not force my mates to do this. There is a campiness to it all though, and occasional moments like Musical Chairs do make for a pretty fun event; I can see 100 people at PAX playing an epic musical chairs battle, with players being knocked out for being too slow at regular intervals, and that likely be awesome. But that’s only once a year, and I just can’t see Everybody 1-2 Switch working well in any other environment.
That said, the weird cut-out humans they have in the game are cringey at worst, and terrifying at best. Check this kid out who replaces the “Red Light, Green Light” little girl statue in Squid Game. I can’t decide what is worse.
When you’re summoning weird sassy aliens by doing a cult-like chant or frantically trying to match colours in your living room like a deranged contestant on The Block or having a gigantic game of IRL Fortnite with invisible musical chairs, Everybody 1-2 Switch is… fine. There are some interesting ideas, but mostly the included games have either been done better elsewhere already or are just plain boring concepts to begin with.
This family-friendly version of Jackbox could find its place at a young child’s birthday party at best, but the rest of us will probably find ourselves desperate for something a little less simple.
Everybody 1-2 Switch is available now on Nintendo Switch.