Review: 1-2 Switch

Wii Sports took the world by storm back in 2006. Even your Nana could be seen fighting over the Wii remote to have a go for herself. As the defining product of Nintendo’s new “blue ocean” strategy, the game went on to redefine gaming and finally bring it to the masses. How does Nintendo’s latest game designed to attract the masses – 1-2 Switch fare?

Comparisons between Nintendo’s Switch launch title and Wii Sports may seem inevitable, however they actually don’t share much in common. 1-2 Switch is a game designed entirely around having at least two players, single player content is, sadly, non-existent here. Don’t have anyone to break off a Joy-Con with? Then this game isn’t for you. So let’s get this out of the way: it’s undoubtedly a good thing that Nintendo didn’t bundle this game with the Switch. We’ll get onto the controversial price tag later, but having this bundled would have inevitably led to it being left on shelves or sold on. Having a bundled game that you can’t play alone would have sent out the wrong message to potential Switch owners.

Nintendo’s messaging when the Switch was revealed back in November seemed to be focused on the 20-something, San Francisco-dwelling, busy urbanite consumer who parties on rooftops but also enjoys spending time relaxing at home in between obligatory dog-walking responsibilities. A far cry, it seems, from the all-inclusive, any-age target of the Wii. Nintendo have a new focus, and while I don’t frequent rooftop parties, I tend to think I loosely fit the bill for that focus. First revealed in January at Nintendo’s Japanese event, 1-2 Switch is the company’s Joy-Con showcase-cum-tech demo for the new console. Comprising of 28 individual mini-games and a party board mode, which randomises them, the game aims to place itself amongst millennial social butterflies as an elaborate, yet expensive drinking game to be enjoyed at parties or social gatherings (rooftop optional).

12Switch Presentation2017 scrn05 MilkNintendo are quite literally "milking it" with this one.

The mini-games on offer vary from the frankly hilarious, to the technically impressive, to the downright awful. Milk, as I’m sure everyone who has an Internet connection will have seen, is fantastic and easily steals the show in a group of people. You could maybe put Eating Contest in the category, a favourite for the meme generators of the Internet. Others such as Ball Count, show off the great HD rumble potential and general technical wizardry of the Joy-Cons. Safe Crack and Joy-Con rotation use the motion controls and HD rumble to good effect. On the other hand, Air Guitar and Gorilla, while perfect for initially providing laughs, can often seem entirely random and don’t have the same intuitive feel of previous motion control games. While the mix is certainly diverse, it’s immediately obvious where the most fun can be found. Even non-gamers seemed to enjoy the more “game-based” offerings in my experience as opposed to the “do something stupid for 2 minutes” ones.

One of the benefits of 1-2 Switch is that you really can take it anywhere. The screen is not even required to enjoy the mini-games on offer and most in fact encourage the two players to look each other in the eye. Instead, the players mostly have to rely on either audio or rumble feedback from the console or Joy-Con respectively. Table tennis is one example of this, where looking at the screen could actually hinder your progress, in its place you are advised to listen to the bounce of the ball and time your shots accordingly. This works well in theory, but sometimes not so well in execution, especially when playing with non-gamers. The same could also be said of Sword Fight and Wizard, which work well, but again only when the player has the technical understanding of what they are actually required to do. Other highlights include Shave, Zen and Treasure Chest, all of which use the motion controls in an interesting and enjoyable way.

12Switch Presentation2017 scrn08 SafeCrackQuick! Crack into the Nintendo safe to get your money back on this overpriced software.

And here comes the rub, 1-2 Switch has a lot of mini-games which are executed well and are fun to play, but they are all painfully short. Once they’re over you are faced with the choice of moving on, or playing again in exactly the same manner and this wears thin very quickly. No saved high scores after a play session, no leaderboards, and given the concept, it is easy to see why, but there is nothing here to keep the player coming back. This, in reality, simply doesn’t stack up against the £40 asking price. Had Nintendo have implemented a little more for the player to come back to, such as high scores which save to the console, then there would be some merit in returning to try and beat them. Unfortunately, we instead have a product that feels overpriced for the tiny amount of content on offer, the majority of which becomes plain uninteresting after a number of playthroughs. Interestingly though, the game does have full audio and visual support for seven European languages, so sticking the game into my second language and playing through it again was an odd, but very much welcome experience on a Nintendo console, which traditionally have only had text support for Russian from the 3DS and Wii U onwards. Hopefully a positive sign of things to come for Switch.

For two players, in the comfort of their own home, the fun is over fairly quickly. After an hour, playing the same games again can get tiresome, despite the undoubted favourites for the home setting, which do have that one more go feel, such as Milk, Safe Crack or Quick Draw. Disappointingly, only around 10 or so of the games on offer have scores or times which are tracked during a play session, and more importantly, that might you want to play again to beat. If you exit the game, these are gone. Party mode, where players break off into two teams, provides a lot more entertainment if you have a large number of people (four or more is recommended). This is where the most fun can be found in 1-2 Switch.

12Switch Presentation2017 scrn07 EatingContestJust how many of these technically innovative but shallow mini-games can you stomach?

In Party mode, named "Team Battle", you are given a game board and take it in turns to spin the wheel and try to win the game to move your board piece. I took the console into work and we split into two teams of four. Everything just clicked in this setting and it was an exciting hour of entertainment, even the games which I’d found less technically impressive at home raised a lot of smiles in the office. The real fun comes from watching your friends or co-workers make a fool of themselves as opposed to the game itself, but kudos to Nintendo for providing me with some truly memorable moments related to a couple of friends in particular. The benefit of having the game on the big screen is purely to provide aural clarity. Having the sound come through the TV really aids when using the audio cues, whereas undocked portable mode isn’t really loud enough to work in a noisy environment. This is ironic really, as this game shines when there is a large group of people, just don’t expect to be able to hear it properly (plug in some portable speakers if you have to). As I mentioned before, the screen is not really required, but each game is introduced using uniquely quirky live-action demonstrations, which throws in some additionaly hilarity in a party setting or the first time you view them.

1-2 Switch is a strange and undoubtedly unique product from Nintendo. It can certainly provide a lot of laughs and is technically impressive on occasion, but it just isn’t engaging, varied or deep enough to keep coming back to. The overall result is a mixed bag of genuinely good ideas and throwaway garbage that, given the right setting, is an amusing and entertaining experience. Quite frankly though, 1-2 Switch just isn’t worth the high price of admission and will probably be forgotten about when more software is released for the Switch.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Take the plunge if you are a relatively well off San Francisco based copywriter with a large group of friends who gather often, but don’t expect an experience anywhere close to Wii Sports.

  • Gameplay3
  • Playability3
  • Visuals1
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan1
Final Score



+ Some technically impressive mini-games.
+ Lots of fun in the right setting.
+ Unique use of audio over visuals.
+ HD rumble is THAT good.
+ Joy-Cons are wonderfully flexible.


- No longevity.
- Some mini-games are terrible.
- Waggle-fest returns in places.
- No save file.
- Embarrassingly overpriced.

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