When the Nintendo Switch launched in 2017, 1-2-Switch arrived alongside it, serving as a showcase for the console’s new Joy-Con controllers. 1-2-Switch turned the Joy-Cons’ HD rumble and motion controls into minigames that didn’t offer much replayability. As a system showcase, Wii Sports it was not.
On the other hand, Everybody 1-2-Switch! — a game announced just weeks before its upcoming June 30 release — feels more enduring, based on a half-dozen minigames I played at a recent Nintendo event in New York City. Everybody 1-2-Switch! certainly goes further than the two-player games of 1-2-Switch, inviting up to 100 players to join in on its minigames.
That’s because Everybody 1-2-Switch! can be played not just with Joy-Cons, but, like the Jackbox Party Pack games, with smartphones as well. There’s a mix of gameplay styles here. Some minigames are Joy-Con-controlled only, and those support up to eight players at once. Some can be played with either style of input. Some are smartphone-only, like one where players are shown a color on screen and need to snap a photo of an object that most closely matches that color.
One of the first minigames I tried was called, simply, Balloons. My team of four went up against another team of four in an attempt to inflate an on-screen Mylar balloon by using a Joy-Con like the handle of a bicycle pump. The goal was to inflate that balloon to its largest size, without popping it. The motion-controlled inputs of me and my teammates were combined, meaning we had to quickly communicate to each other when to stop frantically miming our pumping motions. It was a fun, quick burst of gameplay, as we raced to fill our balloon to its near-breaking point.
As a Nintendo rep scrolled through the menu of minigames, I saw multiple variations on Balloons: one in which on-screen guides indicating the maximum balloon size were turned off; one that tasked players with pumping up a slowly leaking balloon; and another where the goal was to pop your team’s balloon as quickly as possible.
Everybody 1-2-Switch!’s Joy-Con-based minigames, like Balloons, are highly physical. Another, Samurai Sword Fight, has players mimic pulling a katana out from its sheath as fast as possible, competing for the fastest sword draw. Hip Bump is the silliest game I played, asking players to thrust their butts — with a Joy-Con held behind their hips — at each other in a minigame reminiscent of sumo wrestling. On screen, people in rabbit costumes smash their tails against each other.
Games in Everybody 1-2-Switch! that can be played with smartphones include a bizarre alien-summoning experience in which players perform rhythmic movements to entice a flying saucer full of extraterrestrials to visit them. I was one of more than 16 players thrusting my arms up and down (up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down) in time with alien chants, in one of the stranger competitive video game moments of my career. I felt the burn in my shoulders (and the burning desire to win) in the most physical of the phone-based games I previewed.
The aforementioned color-matching game was easily the most fun and creative of the bunch. It’s presented to players as a fashion magazine editor talking about the latest trending colors. One is shown on screen, and players need to find an object in the room to snap a pic of that matches the color. I wound up taking photos of a monstera plant to match green, a piece of colorful carpet to find a blue, and my former Polygon colleague (now at Wired) Megan Farokhmanesh’s hair in search of the perfect bright red. I can imagine players scrambling through rooms in a friend’s home to find just the right hue.
The most practical demo from Everybody 1-2-Switch! that I saw was a simple quiz game. It can be played with either a Joy-Con or a smartphone, and it asks players to answer questions as quickly as possible. The general-knowledge questions are multiple choice, with only two options; there’s nothing as challenging as, say, Trivial Pursuit. Everybody 1-2-Switch! even lets players create their own custom quizzes, a feature Nintendo showed off by crafting a quiz themed around the hands-on event. That quiz included some light Nintendo trivia and a question that asked us to remember which floor we were on. (Almost everyone in attendance got that answer right.)
Everybody 1-2-Switch!, thanks to its variety and inclusiveness, looks to be much richer than its Switch launch predecessor — and is priced right, at just $29.99 (compared to 1-2-Switch’s launch price of $49.99). It’s coming to Switch this week, if you’re looking for the next great party game for you and 99 of your closest friends.