With every new Nintendo console comes a title that exists to solely showcase the unique appeal of the platform. The Wii had Wii Sports, Wii U had Nintendo Land, and now the Nintendo Switch has 1-2-Switch. While releasing games that are more spectacle than substance in a bid to best show off the nuances of a system is an understandably desirable prospect for any company releasing a brand new piece of hardware, the largest difference between the first two games mentioned in this review and 1-2-Switch is the fact that they were free pack-ins with their respective and initial SKUs. This game, however, retails for $49.99 USD.
As a result of this cost, many would have expected that this two-player focused endeavor would contain a few more bells and whistles. Sadly, it does not. In fact, for a piece of software that features a total of 28 mini-games, it does very little to keep those playing them engaged and instead serves as a product that will ultimately be buried and forgotten as the library for the Nintendo Switch continues to grow.
To the credit of Nintendo, the game does a great job of showcasing the power of the system's unique Joy-Con controllers. Games like 'Quick Draw' and 'Sword Fight' demonstrate the motion control capabilities of the remotes, while others such as 'Ball Counting' and 'Eating Contest' show off the HD Rumble and inferred motion camera feature on the right Joy-Con, respectively. They're all quirky ventures that leave a lot to be desired in the long run, but the fun of this title really takes hold once a handful of friends have entered the scene.
Organizing groups of friends into a team in 'Team Battle' or jumping into the '1-2-Switch Shuffle' option presents a little more variety and ensures that players won't stick solely to favorites like the aforementioned Quickdraw (an Old West-inspired reaction game). Admittedly, moments when a group of friends have gathered around to try out the new hardware are unquestionably the best opportunities to enjoy the games featured in 1-2-Switch, but this isn't an environment that will realistically present itself whenever players boot up the game. In fact, this is a strictly two Joy-Con experience, which ensures that the title will only be dusted off when company arrives.
Knowing this, those curious as to whether or not 1-2-Switch is worth their time should take into account the number of people they actually have to play with. Several titles even allow for multiple users to participate through one controller, which only further cements it as a social offering. This is a fine premise that many other Nintendo titles base themselves around (Smash Bros., Mario Kart, Mario Party, Wii Sports, etc.), but the realization quickly begins to set in that this isn't really even a video game – it's a tech demo.
The Nintendo Switch's screen isn't occupied with moveable characters or all that much action, opting to instead insert live-action actors in a style reminiscent to Ubisoft's Just Dance series. While that particular third-party game requires players to pay attention to the screen intently, 1-2-Switch instead wants users to stare each other in the eyes and simply pretend they are placed in any of the 28 included scenarios. Now, far be it from this reviewer to dismiss the power or importance of imagination – and there's no denying that it's a unique way to play a game – but it's obvious that this wasn't built to be a bread and butter game for the platform. Upon reflection, it's simply a sampling of the gimmicks that may or may not be used in future Switch games with fleeting appeal.
This is something that should have come pre-installed on the hardware gratis to better acquaint consumers with the tech. Instead it's been given a slightly discounted price point and shipped in time for the launch of the Nintendo Switch. Perhaps if the company added enough content to justify the cost, it wouldn't be such a sore point in the system's launch lineup. Maybe if Nintendo opted to include it as a pack-in, it would have allowed users to appreciate the half-hearted nature of its lackluster design.
All of these factors would have made for a more acceptable final product.
1-2-Switch is available exclusively for the Nintendo Switch on March 3, 2017.
Game Rant was provided with a physical copy of 1-2-Switch for this review.