This week, Polygon was able to spend a bit of time playing 1-2-Switch, Nintendo’s local multiplayer party game.
1-2-Switch consists of 28 minigames, each ranging from about 15 seconds to a minute in length, depending on what it demands of its players. In one game, Eating Contest, players are given a timed challenge to see who can stomach the most sandwiches. The person who gobbles up the most is declared the winner. In other games, however, like Baby, the game can go on for quite some time. It all depends on how long it takes for players to figure out the precise rocking motion to get their baby to sleep. Each game comes with a “hot pepper” rating. The more peppers that appear below the game, the harder it is.
It’s pretty daunting to boot up the game and have a medley of minigames flash before your eyes. Polygon played through all 28 games and took notes on each one, sitting down with one another after playing to discuss what we liked and disliked about each title.
Collected below are our thoughts on the five best and five worst 1-2-Switch minigames. 1-2-Switch is a launch title for the console, which will be available worldwide tomorrow for $299.99. The game itself costs $49.99.
Samurai Training: This one made the most sense out of all the minigames we played. Believe it or not, actually making sense is the difference between minigames working and coming up short. One player raises the Joy-Con above their head and brings it down like a sword, while the other has to essentially stop it between their hands. If you block the strike in time, you win.
While the players are looking at each other, spectators also get to watch what’s happening on screen. Some of the minigames have visual representation, but some don’t. 1-2-Switch exists as a way for players to focus on one another instead of the game, but that doesn’t always equate to fun for those watching. Samurai Training does provide some kind of visual entertainment on screen, and it makes a world of difference for those situated on a couch, watching.
Wizards: Wizards essentially recreates the final battle between Harry Potter and Voldemort. Both players’ “wands” are locked in a single stream pushing against each other, one side red and the other blue. This minigame definitely had the most captivating on-screen visuals, the electric line of red and blue a clear indicator of performance. If you lean too far out, “overthrusting” pops up on your side of the screen, indicating that you need to recalibrate your position. It doesn’t require a ton of physical movement aside from brandishing your Joy-Con at your opponent, but you can scream a lot. It can get pretty intense.
Soda Shake: The (inadvertently?) filthiest game by far, Soda Shake has you vigorously shaking the Joy-Con up and down. According to the tutorial video, there’s even a cupping motion underneath this “soda bottle” that you could do with your free hand. When the bottle finally explodes, “Cheers!” pops up on the screen — along with a geyser of white fluid. Soda Shake’s motto is “shakin’ it slowly won’t stop it from poppin,’” and if you have anyone in the room who readily giggles at those kinds of things, like we do, be careful.
Treasure Chest: Treasure Chest is one of 1-2-Switch’s best games because it’s one of the simplest. Players are on a ship and tasked with freeing a chest of gold that’s become trapped in a series of metal chains. Players must rotate their controllers to unravel the chest; the first person to do so wins. It’s the kind of timed challenge that minigames thrive on, and it didn’t take long for us to get competitive with one another, our arms flailing as we tried to rotate the Joy-Con as fast as possible. The art is, like most of the games, cheesy but adorable.
Telephone: Telephone is one of the easiest games and also one of the funniest. Players are tasked with answering a ringing phone the fastest and must yell “hello” at the top of their lungs when moving the Joy-Con from the table it’s sitting on to their ear. Much like with Soda Shake and Treasure Chest, we were left somewhere between giggling and laughing hysterically as people started answering the phone in different ways and yelling out different versions of the greeting. This is the type of game that anyone can get into because it’s such an easy and universal concept. It’s easy to pick up on and was one of the main titles we kept returning to.
Baby: The concept of Baby is rather simple: You’re cradling a crying baby in an attempt to get them to fall asleep. We tried to have fun with this one, even swaddling one of the Joy-Con controllers with the sensor still visible, but nothing helped. We couldn’t get the baby to stop crying for one simple reason: We couldn’t see what we were doing. Unlike in Treasure Chest, there aren’t any visual cues in Baby for what you’re doing on screen. As a result, you’re cradling an infant, but you don’t know where your hands are or, much more importantly, where the child is. It got to the point where we felt like passengers trapped on an airplane with a screaming baby and there was nothing we could do about it. So we did the only thing we could: We quit.
Joy-Con Rotation: Joy-Con Rotation isn’t so much a game as it is an exercise in math and physics. One player takes the Joy-Con, puts it on a table and literally rotates it to a certain degree. Then, their opponent has to try and match it. If that sounds boring, believe us: Playing it is even worse. Joy-Con Rotation is an interesting tutorial in how to use the controller, to an extent, but it is certainly not a minigame.
Shave: In Shave, players take their Joy-Cons and try to shave off all of their facial hair. As in Baby, there aren’t any visual cues; players must rely on the controllers’ HD Rumble feature to know where to shave. Much like Joy-Con Rotation, the game works as an excellent tutorial, but it’s not fun. Without the visual representation, the game is also pretty challenging, too, but not in an enjoyable way. The overall experience is more annoying than anything else and isn’t something you’ll want to return to.
Boxing Gym: Boxing Gym feels like it wants to be a Wii Sports experience, but without the cute factor many of those games encompassed. The matches don’t last long enough for players to get into the action, and only having one tiny Joy-Con controller in your hand feels weird. It almost seems like Boxing Gym is missing a crucial step — as if this were a demo version that never made it to the finalization process.
Baseball: It’s hard to get a game based on baseball wrong. Someone throws the ball and someone hits it. But somehow, Nintendo has found a way. The game is more confusing than anything else, with poor cues given to players letting them know when to pitch or catch. The visuals are boring and useless. We barely managed to get through an entire game, and when it finally finished, we were glad to never return to it.