1-2-Switch: Innovative party game or £40 tech demo?

Nintendo certainly whetted the appetites of gamers around the country with its Nintendo Switch UK premiere in January, two months before the console was released to the public. I was lucky enough to attend this event, and it was obvious from the get go which games had the most hype. The queue for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild had been closed due to such a high demand, and there was a surprisingly long line for Sonic Mania. However, one game (or, more accurately, games) drew my attention straight away. If there’s one thing that can be said for the minigame collection 1-2-Switch, it’s eyecatching.

Before delving into the game itself, the aesthetics have to be appreciated. Preceeding each minigame is a short video clip in which two actors in front of a block colour wall demonstrate to the player what to do. The muted, pastel style colours work well with the quirky design and the colour coordination between the costumes and the background is nigh-on perfect. The animations are slick and fun, keeping the player entertained. The design team for 1-2-Switch deserves a hearty thumbs-up.

However, this is where 1-2-Switch starts to go downhill. Although the minigames are quite fun for the most part, they get pretty boring and repetitive after a while, especially if there are only two players in the room. Some are confusing, with the instructional videos not being all that instructional, resulting in a good few failures before saying ‘oh THAT’S what I was supposed to be doing’.

Despite the repetitive nature of  1-2-Switch, there are certain games that really show off the Switch’s technology. The ‘high-definition haptics’ (called the HD Rumble by Nintendo) is one of the most incredible pieces of hardware I’ve ever seen, and is utilised to its full potential in Ball Count, where the player tilts the Joy-Con and must count the balls rolling around in their hand by way of precise vibrations. When I first played this game at the London premiere I was totally and completely blown away by the realism of this effect and it’s a real shame not to see it used more.

Now comes the clincher: 1-2-Switch costs a whopping £40/$50. Is it worth it? Well, not in this writer’s opinion. I’ve seen a lot of reviews which say that Nintendo should have done what they did with the launch of the Wii and bundled it with the console, and I have to say I agree. While the HD Rumble is simply too good to be ignored and the overall design of the game grabs your attention from the very start, replayability factor is way down and consequently the game doesn’t last long before being turned off and forgotten about until the next gin-infused house party.  If you’re going to buy it, at least spread the cost with a friend so you’re not left with an expensive multiplayer game and no one to play it with.

Author: Phoebe Wright

I am a musician and musicologist currently studying my MA Music at Bangor University, specialising in music for video games. For my undergraduate degree I wrote a 12,000 word dissertation focusing on the music of various horror games, although my favourite games are those with a limited horror factor. I've been playing video games since I was small and I'm fascinated by the in-depth stories and personal relationships that can be made with characters in video games.

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