There are lots of ways to play the Nintendo Switch, but the most distinctive is when you break away the little Joy-Con controller attachments to enable multiplayer games around the tablet. And, as with Wii Sports for the Wii and Nintendo Land for the Wii U, Nintendo has prepared a Switch launch title designed to get the most mileage out of its latest local multiplayer concept.
It’s called 1-2-Switch, and yes, it’s a party-focused minigame collection. The idea connecting each of the games is that you don’t really need to look at the screen at all — whether that’s the TV or the Switch tablet itself — in actual play. Instead, you’re meant to lock eyes with your opponent and use a Joy-Con to crush them in various ridiculous physical tasks.
Nintendo showed off six of these 1-2-Switch minigames today, but only gave attendees tickets to check out three of them. I decided to play the ones with the shortest lines, because even as a British person living in Japan, queuing is not my idea of a great party. This approach led me to end up fighting a samurai, eating a sandwich, and milking a cow.
For the samurai game, one player is on offense and the other on defense; the attacker swings their sword and the opponent has to try to “catch” it by clapping their free hand to the controller. It’s kind of like longtime Verge favorite Johann Sebastian Joust in that the fun comes from feinting actions and trying to force other players into errors through your own body movement. I didn’t play nearly enough to judge the accuracy of the controllers or the long-term depth of the game, but it’s a good example of the vibe that Nintendo seems to be going for with 1-2-Switch: think Wii Sports meets WarioWare.
The other two games I played were even stranger. The cow-milking game saw me sitting on a stool facing my appropriately dressed opponent, who helpfully gestured to the thin air next to us and said “There’s a cow here.” We had to compete against each other to milk as much… milk as possible by moving the Joy-Con downwards while pressing shoulder buttons one after another in a single smooth motion. Again, it’s hard to judge the level of depth here, but I did apparently get the second-highest score of the day on my first try despite never having milked an actual cow before, so make of that what you will.
The eating contest game, meanwhile, uses a different method of control entirely: the IR camera at the end of the right-hand Joy-Con. You have to hold it about five centimeters in front of your mouth, wait for it to detect your face, then chomp as quickly as you can to make it through a series of virtual subs. It seemed to work pretty well, though this game was more of a solo experience — since only one of the Joy-Cons has the camera, you’d need two sets for simultaneous multiplayer, so I imagine most people will be taking turns for the sections of 1-2-Switch that use similar control mechanics.
Other games on display involve a Western-style quick draw duel and one where you have to figure out the number of “balls” rolling around inside your controller using its haptic feedback capability. The complete list of games is more extensive than what Nintendo was showing today, but it’s not clear exactly how many there are.
1-2-Switch is obviously deeply silly, and not the kind of thing you’re going to sit down and play for hours. But it’ll likely be a popular game for the Switch at launch, following in the tradition of Nintendo titles that introduce new players to their console’s technology while experimenting with its limits. It’s available alongside the Switch on March 3rd.