With every recent Nintendo console comes a signature game, one title that tries to teach the player many of the console’s new features while also trying to be fun and exciting. The Wii hit major pay dirt with Wii Sports, catapulting the console and the company into the stratosphere. Wii U’s Nintendo Land was not received quite as well, although it was a competent tutorial for the console. The Nintendo Switch’s teaching app is 1,2 Switch, a collection of mini-games emphasizing the new JoyCon controller’s functionality. This is the first of the three to not be packed in with the console however, so this game has to stand on its own merits to be successful. Based on the five mini-games I got to try, 1,2 Switch has what it takes to be a killer app for the Switch.

The first of these games is “Quick Draw,” which is pretty self explanatory. Two players face each other in a stare down, and when the game gives the signal the first player to raise his or her JoyCon toward the opponent and pull the trigger wins. The winner is presented via a funny picture of an actor pretending to be shot while the other stands over him, and then the exact reaction time and angle of each player’s draw are shown on-screen. I was amazed at how precise the JoyCon picked up on both of these factors, leaving no doubt in my mind as to the results. I also like the idea that “Quick Draw” encourages the players to look at each other rather than the screen, serving more as a guide than a crutch.


In fact that’s a common theme throughout the 1,2 Switch experience. I spent more time focusing on my opponent or the controller than I did on the screen itself, which is unheard of in video games. By their very nature games require the player to have eyes glued to the screen, so for this game to offer an alternate solution while still be fully functional is pretty impressive. I felt more of a rapport facing the player I was with as opposed to sitting next to him, which created a stronger multiplayer experience. Who’d have thought that a potential way to improve multiplayer would be to have us stop looking at the screen?

The next game I tried will likely be fodder for many a YouTube video for months after the game launches: “Milk.” Here the JoyCon becomes a udder for an imaginary cow, and using a specific method of pressing the outer buttons while bringing my hand down I had to simulate milking a cow, with the most cups of water milked winning the game. This one took some getting used to despite the buttons being perfectly placed where my fingers lay, I suppose it’s because of the downward motion being thrown into the mix as well. Once I got the hang of it the game played smoothly, and I laughed the entire time. One thing I couldn’t do, however, is look at my opponent as I “milked the cow;” that was just plain awkward.


Next is the game I went into a little bit in my Switch preview, “Ball Count.” As I mentioned focuses heavily on the system’s HD Rumble, simulating marbles in a box and asking me to guess how many are in the box. The precision of the rumble feeling helped me go 2-for-2 in this game, which still blows my mind, and the simplicity of the game makes it an easy entry point into 1,2 Switch as a whole. I have a feeling this will be my go-to when I bring the Switch to my parents’ house for the first time.

The fourth of my five 1,2 Switch mini-games was “Samurai Training,” a best-of-five sword-catching contest. One player holds the JoyCon above his or her head and swings it down like a sword, with the other tries to catch it by clapping his or her hands together in time. The game randomly chooses who takes what position first, then the two players switch until one player gets five successful hits. The trick here is that unlike “Quick Draw” earlier the player doesn’t have to immediately bring the sword down on the word “Go,” allowing for some delays and fake-outs before striking. I absolutely fell victim to at least one fakeout, but that didn’t make the game any less enjoyable.


The final game turned out to be a familiar one, “Table Tennis” 1,2 Switch style. Aside from a bouncing ball going from one side of the screen to the other there were no visual clues as to where the ball was, instead the game forces players to focus solely on the audio cues of ordinary table tennis in order to play a best-of-five points match. I don’t know if it’s because I play a good amount of table tennis, but I found it uncanny how realistic the game portrayed those sounds. I knew where the ball was at all times, I swung when I was supposed to swing, and I came out on top 5-1. The only issue here is that “Table Tennis” is clearly better suited for setups with surround sound, so I don’t know if that realistic sound will remain without it, but this game still impressed the heck out of me.

There are but five of the games 1,2 Switch has to offer, and Nintendo hasn’t said how many will actually be included at launch, but this quintet offered a strong argument for making 1,2 Switch a part of any player’s Switch launch plans. There are a few minor issues that crept up within the games, but they can all be remedied pretty quickly by playing through them. The idea that the game isn’t packed in could limit its exposure, but word-of-mouth may be just as strong a seller considering how wacky players will look when taking part. What seemed like a silly pass during its reveal may turn out to be one of the best launch games the Switch offers, and I’m definitely gearing up for some crazy 1,2 Switch parties come early March.

1,2 Switch launches exclusively on Nintendo Switch on March 3.