With Breath Of The Wild comfortably fulfilling its straightforward remit to be an unmissably brilliant Nintendo game, 1-2-Switch has been assigned the less glamorous – but no less important – job of selling its host console’s feature set. In that role, of demonstrating the possibilities of the hardware, it’s an undoubted success. But it feels like an ideal pack-in game that’s been somewhat overvalued by its publisher, and it’s not hard to imagine what might have happened had the similarly slight Wii Sports also been sold solus at an inflated price tag.
Its suite of 28 two-player minigames may seem generous, but perhaps half of those will be quickly left out of the rotation when friends and family members next come over. Among the highlights are Safe Cracker, a fascinating showcase for the Joy-Cons’ HD Rumble feature in which you rotate your wrist to turn a dial until you feel a more pronounced click. Telephone manages to turn the simple act of answering a call into a strangely tense competitive challenge. At the more physically demanding end of the scale is Wizard, where the Joy-Cons become thrusting wands in a back-andforth magical battle sure to have kids of all ages picturing themselves as Harry Potter facing Voldemort.
It rarely gets much more complex than that, though immediacy is rather the point. The short videos that introduce each minigame are bland and benign, like much of the presentation. But then the screen isn’t the focus; instead, you’re told to look at one another. The real game takes place within the room, then, with ample opportunity to confound, distract or otherwise trick your opponent. You might swing enthusiastically in Table Tennis as if smashing the ball, while squeezing the shoulder button that produces a lob, forcing a hasty return into the net. Or during the self-explanatory Quick Draw, you could yell ‘fire!’ so your rival jumps the gun. In that light, variant Fake Draw, during which a voice shouts similar words to tempt you into a premature shot, feels somewhat redundant.
Energetic if simplistic, shallow yet enormously replayable, it’s the kind of game you’ll forget about for months, rediscover during a party, and within ten minutes everyone will be shouting, laughing and clamouring to join in. It’s an expensive welcome mat of a game, sporadically rather than consistently inspired. There will, no doubt, be more expansive and alluring Switch games that develop these concepts into something more substantial. For now, however, there’s something strangely appealing about a game that so exuberantly celebrates the uniqueness of this fascinating new Nintendo hardware.