Funny To A Point – Ranking Every Stinking 1-2-Switch Game
It's already shaping up to be an amazing year for games, with hits like Horizon Zero Dawn, Yakuza 0, Resident Evil 7, and Nioh keeping players entertained for dozens of hours on end. However, the biggest news of the year so far has been Nintendo's new console, and the only game you should buy it for: 1-2-Switch.*
Kyle has been busy posting additional content for the Switch's other dumb launch game, but as our official reviewer of 1-2-Switch, I feel duty-bound to carry through with more post-release content for the game's dedicated player base – which I assume is staying at or near 100-percent of everyone who bought it, but that obviously can't be verified because they are all too busy playing the game to respond to any sort of poll or survey.
...Look, can I be honest? 1-2-Switch stinks, and while I'm enjoying this best-game-ever charade, I'm afraid our post-truth world is going to take it seriously. I mean, we live in a world where Dane Cook sells out stadiums – we can't take anything for granted when it comes to humor.
If you read my 1-2-Switch review, you know it already contains as many jokes as one of these asinine columns. However, that doesn't mean I took the review process lightly; while testing 1-2-Switch, I not only took studious notes for every single minigame, I also ranked them to help form an overall opinion of the collection. So, for today's column, please enjoy this rare, behind-the-scenes look at my review process, which includes the full ranking, my original review notes, and my refined opinion of each game after weeks of further consideration.
#28: Dance Off
Review Notes: "total farce"
Forget the further consideration – I nailed this one! Dance Off encourages you to bust out your best dance moves, but flopping your controller around like a dead fish is enough to earn you an "A" in rhythm. I know I don't have any rhythm, Nintendo – you don't need to patronize me. Just Dance has been championing this cheap charade for years, and is considered the bargain-bin tier of dance games. And yet it's still better than 1-2-Switch; not only does it include actual licensed songs that people want to listen to**, you only need your phone to play it. All in all, not a great demonstration of the Switch's tech.
Review Notes: "crap, pose doesn't matter"
Hey, I nailed this one too! Another "game" based on smoke and mirrors, Runway really hopes you'll get swept up in the hysteria of making wacky, exaggerated poses with your friends – because if you don't, you'll realize the game is only vaguely registering the orientation of your controller. But guess what? You can play Runway right now! Just stick your ass out at your friend/co-worker/fellow bus passenger and make a funny face. I guarantee it's just as fun.
#26: Copy Dance
Review Notes: "also crap, pose doesn't matter"
What? I said I was including my original review notes – not that every review note was original. In this case, the copy-and-paste job was wholly warranted; Dance Off, Runway, and Copy Dance are all slight variations on the same underwhelming tech demo. Copy Dance, indeed – they just did a palette swap on the background, FFS!
Review Notes: "a conceptual mess"
I guess I could've gone with some kind of baseball-themed criticism, like "a fastball to the groin!" But "conceptual mess" is still an accurate, concise summary of Baseball's problems. The minigame wants you to pitch imaginary balls at your opponent, who must time their swings to hit them. Since there are no on-screen indicators, however, you feel like a mime stuck in some weird radio play. Also, it doesn't take into account how far you're standing from your opponent, so the timing is completely disconnected from the action. Also also, the speed, strength, and angle of your throws and swings don't matter, making it hugely inferior to the 11-year-old Wii Sports incarnation of the sport. Yay!
#24: Eating Contest
Review Notes: "designed to look like a huge ass"
If you've seen the trailer for 1-2-Switch, you know this statement is 100-percent accurate. I also felt like a huge ass while playing it, but only slightly more than all the other games. Fun side note: I originally listed this mini-game as "Eating Sandwich" in my notes, which I still contend is the better title.
#23: Air Guitar
Review Notes: "vague rhythm, just shaking"
That summary is still true, but I could've also called out that the minigame accurately captures just how obnoxious people who "play" air guitar are. Learn a real instrument, you losers! Like air drums.
#22: Sword Fight
Review Notes: "Wii Sports reject"
This quip turned out to be more accurate than I meant it to be; I didn't realize at the time that fencing was a Wii Sports Resort minigame, so it probably was a rejected Wii Sports offering – and Sword Fight is even worse than that! Regardless, this is one of the games that insists you stare into your opponent's eyes, while simultaneously displaying the number of lives you have on the screen...for you to not look at. The video tutorial is also one of 1-2-Switch's most obnoxious – so much so that I'd rather sit on my imaginary sword than watch it again.
#21: Beach Flag
Review Notes: "shake like an idiot"
You're technically supposed to be running in place, but shaking gets the job done. You also have to hold your controller up at the end, as if you're raising your hand and saying, "I am the fastest idiot who regrets flushing $50 down the toilet!"
Review Notes: "lunge and counter not worth it"
This might be as close to actual game-mechanic observations as my ranking notes got. Wizard allows you to perform lunge and countering moves, but the whole thing still feels like a really lame, reverse Tug of War. Also, the indicator of whether you are winning or losing is on the damn screen again! Even Harry Potter cosplayers would be embarrassed to be caught playing this.
Review Notes: "confusing rhythm crap"
You can see a clip of Cork and me trying to play this one during the G.I. Show segment, but if that's too much work, here's the long and short of it: Gorilla somehow makes pretending to be a giant monkey NOT fun. Part of the problem is it contains multiple fakeouts before the action starts, even if you skip the tutorial. Just let me beat my chest like an idiot already! Not that I need 1-2-Switch to do it...he said about practically every game in the collection.
*This isn't so much a joke as it is Time's review headline for 1-2-Switch, which was nevertheless the funniest thing I read all month and made me laugh green tea out of my nose. (back to top)
**I assume. I have no idea what dancing-inclined people want to listen to. I'm confident it's not 1-2-Switch's music though. (back to top)
Coming Up Next: Are we to the good games yet? No we are not...
#18: Table Tennis
Review Notes: "like Wii Tennis, but not accurate and you can't see what you're doing"
This entry's criticism found its way into my 1-2-Switch review, and remains one of the most confusing design decisions in the game. "Hey, remember how fun Wii Tennis was 11 years ago? Try this version that has no visuals, doesn't actually simulate you hitting the ball, and is instead just a cheap timing exercise like half the other minigames." It's like Tesla revealing that its newest car features a diesel engine and square wheels.
#17: Soda Shake
Review Notes: "goes by number of times?"
I was actually relieved to look back and see this as my note for Soda Shake – there are far more inappropriate quips I could've written about 1-2-Switch's teenage-boy simulator. Instead, "goes by number of times?" was an early guess at how the game was deciding when the soda would explode, because the first few people could seemingly shake it forever without any payoff. Regardless, this variant of Hot Potato would be more fun with an actual bottle of soda. Or a hot potato. On the bright side, that lady's facial expression is the correct reaction to someone trying to get you to play 1-2-Switch. So is the next image...
Review Notes: "f--- babies, as much fun as taking care of a crying baby"
If I had a nickel for every time I wrote "f--- babies" in my review notes for a video game...well, I'd probably only have one nickel. But the second sentiment isn't just a throwaway joke; the minigame does a remarkable job of simulating what it's like to soothe (or attempt to soothe) a fussy baby. So much so that when I played it, my mind was consumed by a single thought.
Review Notes: "highly erotic"
Not only do I still stand by this assessment, I assert that it was Nintendo's intended goal from the beginning.
Review Notes: "stay still, which makes it better than half the games"
Another nascent joke that made its way into the final review, my feelings toward Zen have remained as stagnant as the game demands your body to be. I imagine its conception went something like this:
Employee #1: "Let's see, we've got six reflex games, two
wave-your-hand games, three dumb-pose games...what else?
Employee #2: "Whoa! What if the motion for a game was NO motion?
Employee #1: "Duuude!"
Employee #2: "Excellent!"
*both employees play
Employee #1: "Hey, air guitar should be a game too!"
*Reggie crashes through the wall like Kool-Aid Man and throws wads of cash in their faces*
Review Notes: "poor gyro control"
I wrote that note after playing this mini-game with Jeff Cork (though admittedly, neither of us are really experts at shaving). I was tilting the Switch controller as I moved it, which made the virtual shaver jump all over my avatar's head (remember, don't look at the screen!). Cork wasn't tilting his controller at all, and subsequently had to run it up his forehead just to reach his character's beard. Technology!
#12: Quick Draw
Review Notes: "basic reflexes, kind of entertaining"
There's some inherent fun in seeing who can react to something the fastest. Quick Draw goes to painstaking efforts to not do anything beyond that, and succeeds at this goal. Congratulations?
#11: Signal Flags
Review Notes: "follow directions, dumb"
I didn't enjoy Signal Flags, but at least it's slightly more involved than many of the other stinkers that came before it. You're going to see that sentiment a lot in the following entries – it's not fun, but at least it as a second layer of SOMETHING. However, Signal Flags is also 1-2-Switch's cruelest minigame; no matter how high you hoist your white flag in the air, it won't let you surrender.
Coming Up Next: The top 10 not worst 1-2-Switch games...
#10: Samurai Training
Review Notes: "reflexes, but too easy to stop"
Another simple reflex test, but at least Samurai Training lets you try to fake out your opponent. However, the window for reacting is apparently set to Sloth – after a countless string of successful counters, I just let Cork whack me so we could silently move on to the next game. Also, why does someone always end up on their knees in all of the video tutorials?
#9: Joy-Con Rotation
Review Notes: "inconsistent and exploitable"
First and foremost: Bravo on the creative title, Nintendo – your imagination knows no bounds. Joy-Con Rotation tasks you with picking up and turning your controller while keeping it as level as possible. It's also totally broken – you can instead twirl your whole body around, or devise any other form of rotation and the controller can't tell the difference. "But Jeff, why are you trying to break the game?" you say in misguided defense of Nintendo's honor. How about because the game tells you too – one of the hints on the loading screen basically suggests cheating the game with a swivel chair! And I get why; I had more fun trying to come up with cheap workarounds than I did playing it normally.
#8: Ball Count
Review Notes: "rumble feature"
Hey, if Nintendo can go with a boring title, I can go with a boring description. You'll notice that "rumble feature" isn't qualitative; sometimes it worked well and I could tell how many balls there were. Other times it felt way off. All that averages out to a nondescript "rumble feature," which still ranks pretty high on the overall list.
#7: Boxing Gym
Review Notes: "reflex, different types"
Boxing Gym is probably the most fleshed-out minigame in 1-2-Switch. It's still basically a reflex test to see who can respond the fastest when a punch is called out, but there are several different attack types to respond to, and the match ends with a flurry of swings. It's still not as nuanced or freeform as the boxing minigame in Wii Sports though, which was the least entertaining game of that collection. Wah-waaahhh...
#6: Plate Spin
Review Notes: "like Johann Sebastian Joust, but not fun, looking at screen"
"But not fun" is a bit misleading here – it is kind of fun to try and physically jostle your opponent while simultaneously keeping them away from your controller. What my note meant is that it's not as fun as Johann Sebastian Joust, which layers in the use of music and timing variations, and lets up to seven people play the game. Plate Spin, which seems directly inspired by JSJ, is simply inferior in every way – and requires you to look at the screen even though you're supposed to be looking at your opponent. I'd still rather play it over the previous games on this list, so I guess it passes as a cheap substitute to JSJ – even though 1-2-Switch is way more expensive...
Review Notes: "different phone sounds add a little depth, basically the same as Fake Draw"
When the phone rings, you have to pick it up before your opponent. Yep, it's another reflex game. However, you could inject some extra fun into Telephone by making up your own backstory – like, say, you're a Nintendo executive who embezzled millions of dollars earmarked for a Switch launch game, and the FBI is calling. Quick, answer it before your boss does!
It's also worth noting that you and your friend could play this minigame right now with your actual phone. Life hack!
#4: Treasure Chest
Review Notes: "pretty good use of motion controls"
There's a back-of-the-box quote for ya! Treasure Chest has you flipping and rotating your tiny Joy-Con every which way to unravel a chain that's wrapped around your titular chest. I'd go as far to say that it's a competent tech demo – calling it a game is still a stretch.
#3: Fake Draw
Review Notes: "same as Quick Draw but fake cue; really need to draw out number of games"
The first half of that note is a description of the game – the second half was a revelation about 1-2-Switch as a whole. I guess Fake Draw is the best reflex-based minigame in the collection; it's quick, it's straightforward, and there's a little variation thanks to the fake cues. You could maybe squeeze 10 minutes of enjoyment out of it, which is 9 more than every other game.
#2: Sneaky Dice
Review Notes: "bad bluffing game"
The only reason Sneaky Dice is this high on my ranking is because Jeff Cork loved it. I thought it was OK, if only because it's the closest 1-2-Switch gets to an actual game. Both players roll a pair of dice, but are only informed of their opponent's total. Players then try to convince each other to reroll or stay with their original number. This bluffing is the heart – and most fun aspect – of Sneaky Dice (FYI: Cork is an exceptional liar). But you could also play Sneaky Dice in real life with a couple of dice, and it's also not as interesting or strategic as other bluffing games, including the longtime staple minigame Liar's Dice. Sadly, that's still enough for a second-place finish.
#1: Safe Crack
Review Notes: "simple, good use of rumble"
I'm calling a timeout on the jokes: Safe Crack is the best demonstration of the Switch's HD rumble, and is a minigame no other system would be capable of (at least not with the same amount of precision). That is what every 1-2-Switch minigame should have been – but it's still not enough. Safe Crack tasks you with finding the right numbers on an imaginary dial by rotating your controller. Do it three times before your opponent does, and you win...and probably won't want to play it again.
Now imagine if Nintendo cared enough to flesh this concept out. Maybe you work through a series of increasingly difficult levels with twists that change up the formula, like noises that interrupt your concentration, or a time limit that's represented by cops showing up at the scene of the crime. Maybe you and your opponent are trying to crack the same safe – the first to open it gets the cash inside, which is randomized, adding another layer of excitement to each subsequent heist. If Nintendo broke its nonsensical no-screen rule, they could throw in silly avatars and changing environments – don't move when the guard's flashlight shines on your side of the screen! Maybe additional motions could be thrown into the mix: After dialing in the right numbers, you have to pull a crank, or insert and twist a key, or bang on the side to unjam the door. ANYTHING to add a little more variety and replayability to what is a genuinely cool, but fatally simple, idea.
Or, you know, not. I mean, it's not like this is the only other first-party launch title you've got to sell consumers on your expensive new system...
For more ranking fun, check out My Big, Fat, Greek Overwatch Character Ranking. Already read that one? Fine, then click the banner below to check out Funny To A Point's fancy-pants hub!