Nintendo has a solid history of launching consoles alongside games that truly show off the new trifecta of hardware, software and control method. Mario 64, with the N64 pad analog stick allowing you to have unprecedented control over the portly plumber, all rendered in what was at the time, mind-blowing 3D. The Wii’s motion controllers were shown off perfectly by Wii Sports. Remember that first time you returned a ball on Tennis, while the magic was still intact, and it all felt like complete witchcraft?
The genius behind 1-2-Switch is how it is so reliant on the new features of Nintendo’s Joy-Con controllers, which clip onto the side of the Switch unit, that you don’t actually need to look at the screen when you’re playing it. It’s all about sound, timing and your interactions with your opponent.
All aspects of the Joy-Con are used, from the IR sensor, motion controls and the new ‘HD’ rumble. Guessing how many ‘balls’ are in a box by shifting around the Joy-Con, or twisting one to feel slight changes in clicks when cracking a safe is a thrill the first time you do it, but these games don’t hold up to multiple plays. The finest titles are reaction tests, like Samurai Training, Quick Draw, or the brilliant Fake Draw (you’ll all fall for ‘file’ and ‘five’, believe it). Games that require you to interact with your opponent, with loading screens encouraging gamesmanship, like trying to fake them out.
And of course, there’s the suggestive Milk, which has you look someone straight in the eye while making some gestures that could be interpreted very differently as you squeeze a virtual udder. Sadly, there’s no way to up the difficulty on any of these, meaning that once you’re done with a game, there’s very little to pull you back in outside of a new group of friends to play the game with. A big ask, that.
This is where 1-2-Switch fails. It’s great fun, but Wii Sports was packed in with the console. Everyone had the chance to use it and when done with it, it would happily sit in a box until the time some other new, willing people showed up and it came back out of retirement. 1-2-Switch isn’t a pack-in – it’s forty quid, and that’s quite a lot for not only such a slim package, but one with such a slim lifespan too.
It’s a game that will fit in at any party or family home, but it’s a shame that because of the simple fact it isn’t packed in with the console it won’t necessarily find its audience. For those that pick it up, that first time through, with new people – it’s genuinely magic. After that, there’s little left.