It’s hard to remember a game from a major publisher that faced the same obstacles as Everybody 1-2 Switch. In 2022, before its official announcement,reported that the game had done especially poorly in focus tests, prompting Nintendo to consider scrapping the project altogether. So this year, Nintendo that Everybody 1-2 Switch is coming, and very soon, for a discounted price of $30 USD (the original game was $50). So I approached a recent hands-on session with a kind of morbid curiosity: was this going to be as bad as the report suggested, or had Nintendo changed things up enough? Based on limited playtime in a very large group dynamic, it seems like a decent party game, with one notable exception that, if you signal more minigames like this, could really sour the experience.
We played a set of five minigames, showcasing the different styles of play. Some games can be played with Switch Joy-Cons, others with a smart mobile device, and some games can simultaneously support any combination of both. The latest options are how Everybody 1-2 Switch achieves the recentfor certain minigames. Our group for the preview was around 15 people, a much smaller number, but still understood that you can play these games with a large group.
The first game we played was Balloons, which used the Joy-Cons. We are randomly divided into teams (you can ask the game to pick them for you) and each is shown a brief flash of a balloon silhouette. You would then have to move the controller like a bicycle pump to inflate your balloon, trying to match the silhouette as closely as possible without going over it. If it was even a single bomb too far, it went off. But since everyone on the team was contributing to the pump, you would need to communicate when to stop and whether the balloon could handle one more pump, and if so, who should be the one to do it. It had the raucous, risk-taking energy of Jenga, amplified by all the moves happening simultaneously. One round was done in less than a minute, and the winner was the best of five.
The second game was Hip Bump, in which you would place your Joy-Cons behind your back and then try to do a quick back-push move to knock your opponent out of a ring, sumo style. We were instructed to keep our distance, presumably so that a room full of journalists and influential people would not in fact subsequent blows. It was unbelievably silly, especially given that players were depicted on screen in theme park-style bunny costumes. These first two games were the kind of goofy fun that would be good for a party setting in short bursts, but might also linger longer than your welcome.
We’re moving on to smart device-friendly games, starting with Color Shoot. This one was introduced as if you are the new star photographer for a New York fashion magazine, and your first big job is to match the latest colors with style. After pairing cameras on borrowed iPhones, we were asked to wander around and find objects that matched a color swatch within a time limit and take a photo. It seemed quite sensitive to things like lighting conditions, but the interface judged photos in a way that seemed easy to understand. Showing which photos everyone used, the results screen is a great time to spark conversation as we all review and compare our findings.
Then came the worst of the bunch: a UFO game focused on attracting aliens by doing some kind of rhythmic chant, raising the phone above your head, then back to your chest in time to the beat. The phone screen had buttons to make sure you kept both thumbs on it as you repeated the motion, and the better you kept up, the faster the aliens would get closer. However, this was again a group activity like Globo, which meant the whole team had to keep up with the pace. Anyone who strayed from it would throw it off and drive the aliens back. It became a self-perpetuating problem. As time passed, my arms began to ache, and it was clear from the tone of the room that others were feeling the burn as well. It got harder and harder for us to keep time, but any one of us failing to follow through would mean the whole round dragged on for everyone. We were all locked into this backbreaking, joyless job together. It was miserable. I’m far from a peak physical specimen, but in the end, it seemed like everyone had been knocked out, regardless of their fitness level. I don’t want to play that minigame ever again.
The final minigame was thankfully sedentary. It was a quiz game with simple AB selections for the answers, and giving a quick and correct answer meant more points. (Conversely, answering incorrectly too quickly meant further loss of points, so it’s worth thinking carefully if you’re unsure.) They gave us a personalized questionnaire. Nintendo representatives noted that this is intended for gatherings like baby showers or bridal showers, where you’ll meet the partygoers and create a custom quiz about them. It’s a cute idea, and the interface is simple and easy to understand. The presentation also noted that a “spontaneous quiz” option will allow everyone to contribute questions to quickly create a quiz. However, since this was a custom quiz built for this preview, with questions mostly revolving around the preview event itself, I didn’t like the more general purpose pre-made quizzes. A trivia game is only as good as its questions, and I had no idea how difficult they would be, or if there was a large enough database to prevent repeat questions.
All of this is wrapped up in a presentation that’s meant to be funny and cute, centered around the host, Horace the horse. Horace may be jumping on the horse mask meme a few years too late, but the actual hosting animations have some visual effects that make him look like a mix of live action and a surreal animated creature, and it was enough to elicit a few smiles. . from my part.
It’s a cliché to say that a game is a mixed bag, but in the case of Everybody 1-2 Switch, it’s very fitting. The games are definitely disconnected from each other, so some are stronger than others, and some will be more suitable for different groups. There are 17 base games in total, many of which have variations. Based on our limited playtime, I can’t say what the ratio of good to bad is, but I have to expect it to be mostly quick diversions like Globo or clever uses of smart device functionality like Color Shoot. The more games like UFO there are, the worse the package will be. Like any party, it only takes one rude guest to ruin everything for everyone.
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