1-2-Switch Review: Please Clap

Credit: Nintendo
Credit: Nintendo /

1-2-Switch and its 28 minigames showcase the tech prowess of the Nintendo Switch. But can the title stand on its own as the party game it tries to be?

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Release Date: March 3rd, 2017

Nintendo hasn’t been shy about promoting 1-2-Switch, allowing its coverage at events and other presentations to be second only to their golden child, Breath of the Wild. While the tech we’ve seen so far certainly appears neat from an outsider’s perspective, the $49.99 pricing has had everyone raising eyebrows as to why the hell this wasn’t a pack-in game instead. Surely, surely there must be something else here to make 1-2-Switch worth such a sky-high price point at launch.

Sorry, there’s not.

Don’t get me wrong. The tech showcase of 1-2-Switch thoroughly delighted me during my time with the game and the Nintendo Switch system. But my delight was purely at the capabilities of the Switch itself demonstrated in this title, and only occasionally due to any special brilliance on the part of 1-2-Switch’s design. While more technically impressive than Wii U pack-in Nintendo Land, its viability as a standalone local multiplayer game quickly fizzles out after one evening of running the 28-game gamut.

Credit: Nintendo /

Allow me to back up slightly. 1-2-Switch is a compilation of 28 minigames that you can play with 1-4 people. The majority of these games involve looking your fellow players in the eyes rather than looking at the screen, and using a combination of rumble vibrations, sound cues, and reading your opponent to beat them at whatever task you’re competing at.

The games themselves run the gamut from everyday activities like shaving to wizard, sword, or gun combat to weird, out-there tasks like pretending to be a gorilla or spinning plates like a clown. Each game uses at least one of the touted features of the Joy-Cons, whether that’s the IR motion sensor, the gyroscope, the accelerometer, or the HD Rumble. There’s no scoring system, no achievements or unlockables (with the exception of a brief tutorial before all the games are unlocked for you), and no progression other than high score-keeping in some of the games.

Credit: Nintendo /

There’s just no variation once you’ve experienced all 1-2-Switch has to offer, no matter how great the tech works.

What 1-2-Switch attempts to thrive on is a party atmosphere. And it does, briefly. For the first several hours with 1-2-Switch, my friends and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We tried every game, gleefully laughing at the absurd situations we were put in such as staring each other down before drawing our “guns,” attempting to bluff dice rolls, or strutting ridiculously down a make-believe runway. The trouble came at the end of the night, as we finished up the last game. We realized that as neat as each game had been, none of us had any desire to play more than one or two of them again.

That’s because these short bursts of connection aren’t interesting beyond the basic, “Haha, our friend looks silly wiggling his hips like that” or “Wow, look at that cool tech!” And the tech is fabulous. The infamous Ball Count truly feels like there are balls rolling around in the controller with HD Rumble. Safe Crack demonstrates the subtleties of that same technology. We played with the sensitivity of the IR motion camera in Eating Contest and enjoyed the accuracy of the gyroscope in Joy-Con Rotation and Copy Dance. Other favorites included Wizard, which asks you to use rumble, sound, and your opponent’s cues to counter and fight a magic battle, and Baseball, the tech for which I hope is one day used in a far more robust baseball game for the system.

Credit: Nintendo /

But when all that was done, we found that whatever moments of connection we shared looking each other in the eye and guffawing at the rampant sexual innuendos of the tips screens grew repetitive and stale after a few rounds. There’s just no variation once you’ve experienced all 1-2-Switch has to offer, no matter how great the tech works. A Shuffle mode and a Team Battle mode offer enough freshness for maybe one or two more rounds, but even then you’re still playing the same mini games the same way again and again.

It’s worth mentioning too that not every game in this package is brilliant or technically fascinating. Baby, where you rock a crying Switch tablet to sleep, is exactly as awful as it sounds. I found Table Tennis frustrating, as the reaction times are far too fast to really get the hang of how the sound cues tell you when to swing. Joy-Con Rotation, while very accurate, bored us all immediately.

Credit: Nintendo /

The capabilities of the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons are fascinating, and my biggest concern with the work Nintendo has put into this tech is that we won’t see many major titles use the realistic touch capabilities of HD Rumble or the accuracy of the gyroscope. 1-2-Switch may be the best shot anyone has at experiencing the very best of Nintendo’s hardware work on this console, at least for awhile. I hope that’s not the case, but the Wii U’s largely unused unique features don’t give me confidence.

Next: Nintendo Switch Hardware Review: Putting It All Together

As a pack-in game or even a cheap eShop title, 1-2-Switch mostly fascinates as a diversion, and it does sadden me that the high price point and lack of replayability beyond the first few hours will deter so many from experiencing what it has to offer. There’s nothing awful with the title inherently, but the value attached to it grossly overestimates the value it actually offers.

1-2-Switch. 5.5. Despite being a fascinating rundown of the Nintendo Switch hardware’s capabilities, as a game in its own right, 1-2-Switch falls sadly flat. You’ll enjoy yourself immensely for a few hours, but after you and your friends have tried it, 1-2-Switch will be relegated to gathering dust on your shelf and having its most innuendo-heavy screenshots be used for bad memes. If you can play a preview of this somewhere, you’ve already seen everything it has to offer.. Nintendo.

A copy of this game and a Nintendo Switch console were provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.