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1, 2, Switch is a bland collection of mini-games that feel more like tech demos than actual games.

With every Nintendo console, there is the inevitable “tech demo” game that is often sold as a pack-in with the device, showing off the system’s latest gimmicks and how to use them properly. The Wii did this with Wii Sports, and the Wii U followed with Nintendo Land. The problem being that Wii Sports and Nintendo Land, despite being thinly-veiled tech demos, actually had quite a bit of substance and were fun. The Switch’s tech demo collection, 1, 2, Switch, is by far the blandest, and most blatant, of the three, and not exactly a great way to try and sell your system.

I played four minigames during my demo with 1, 2, Switch: Milk, Samurai Training, Ball Count and Quick Draw. Although, I am using the term “minigame” fairly liberally here, as these are more like “microgames”. Think WarioWare. All of them can be summed up in a single sentence: in Samurai Training, one person swings a samurai sword down while another tries to catch it. In Quick Draw, both players raise their JoyCon when the game says “draw” and try to be the first to shoot the other. In Milk, you milk a cow.

In Ball Count, you count balls. I kid you not – the game highlights the JoyCon’s “advanced rumble” feature which allows players to feel like there are individual ball bearings rolling around inside of it. I have to admit its a neat little feature, but the game is so ludicrously shallow that it wears thin pretty quickly.

Shallow really is the name of the game here. All of the games have a single gimmick and then bam that’s it. Unlike Nintendo Land or even Wii Sports, which featured several games that were deep, had multiple modes, lasted quite a while, and had a good degree of replay-ability, 1, 2, Switch is all fire-and-forget. The Nintendo rep with me for the preview seemed to suggest the company was going for quantity over quality: while he would not comment on the exact total number of microgames, he did say it was “much more” than a dozen. Consequently, I feel like the game would need at least thirty games to be worth a purchase, as unlike Wii Sports it isn’t being sold as a pack-in with the Switch, and as a separate, full-priced game.

Despite being billed as a “party game,” all of the games I played were limited to two players – with each player using one JoyCon “half” each. Again, Nintendo refused to confirm that there would be games for more than two players, but comments from the representative suggested there would be. I would certainly hope so, as a collection of ten-second two-player microgrames doesn’t really sound like any party I want to attend.

I also really don’t like the JoyCon, the controller that every 1, 2, Switch game relies on. Holding just a single one in my hand feels flimsy, and I go into that in a bit more detail in my Switch preview.

Graphically, the game opts to use videos of real-life models to demonstrate the games, but there’s not really anything happening on the screen while you’re playing. The game encourages people to “look at their opponent” instead. While I’m sure Nintendo will say this is to encourage the party “feel” and social aspect of the game, to me it just feels lazy. It makes me wonder why I even need the system in the first place. I can milk imaginary cows and swing an imaginary samurai sword without shelling out $300 for a video game system. Part of the fun of a “video game” is seeing your actions translated to a character on the screen.

It’s a real shame the direction 1, 2, Switch has taken. I had no expectations for Nintendo Land but it quickly became one of my favorite titles on the Wii U, thanks in part to its connection with Nintendo’s popular IP. 1, 2 Switch, with its cheesy, over-the-top real-life models, feels more like something a third party shovelware developer would push out for the Wii, rather than a first party launch title for the Switch. While I’ve only seen a small portion of it, it would require a pretty huge overhaul to hold my attention. If this is the best Nintendo has to offer, the Switch is going to have a very sorry launch.

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