1-2-Switch is the Pack-in Game Nintendo Switch Deserves (Hands-On)

Nintendo could make each Switch owner a brand ambassador with the best tool for showing off its tech. So why isn't it?


Part of the widespread sticker shock we saw in light of Nintendo's announcement of a $300 price point for Nintendo Switch was the revelation that it comes with no packed-in software. The Wii famously came with Wii Sports to show off its unique capabilities, and even the Wii U had an optional SKU with Nintendoland. Console pack-ins are a rarity nowadays, but with unconventional hardware like Nintendo's, it pays to have something that can explain the tech. That makes the decision not to include 1-2-Switch especially baffling, because it's so perfect as a system showcase.

1-2-Switch is actually very similar to Wii Sports and Nintendoland, in that it's a collection of short tech-demo-like experiences that, when taken together, explain a broad range of the system's functions. We were shown a handful at our hands-on demonstration, with assurances that more would be included in the total package.

In fact, for the most part these are less mini-games and more micro-games, to borrow a phrase from Nintendo's own WarioWare franchise. Most take no more than a minute at most to play a round, and some like Samurai Training or Quick Draw take even less time than that. Aside from the initial setup phase, Samurai Training lasts as long as it takes for one player to swing his imaginary sword, and the other player to attempt to catch it. It's a game that can be over in mere seconds.

That's not to discount the fun of it, though. It was my least favorite of the micro-games we played, and it was still pretty enjoyable. My biggest reservation was that the catching aspect, which involves clapping your hands down on a Joy-Con controller, was mildly uncomfortable. Quick Draw, a similarly fast game, simply involves waiting for the audio cue and then reaching up and pulling the trigger as quickly as you can. It's basically a game of reflex. 

One aspect that these games share in common, though, is the deemphasis on the actual television screen. While the ideas are illustrated with vibrant, goofy photos of actors dressed in samurai or cowboy garb, you really shouldn't be watching the screen for the cues. In fact, at one point our demonstrator took the Nintendo Switch out of its dock and turned it around, just so I would have to rely on sound. Years of video gaming left me looking at the screen as a matter of habit, and it was one I needed to break.

Some other games were more substantial, but only slightly. One had us simulating a milking motion by "pulling" down on the Joy-Con while gripping the shoulder buttons. A typical round lasted about a minute, and rolling your fingers from one button to the other apparently made for ideal milking. A game of table tennis impressively realized the sport without visual cues, leaving the timing and rhythm entirely up to hearing the audio of the ping-pong ball bouncing on our imaginary table. It's a concept that seemed destined to fail, but a solid 37-hit volley assured us that it really does work.

I was most impressed by Ball Count, a game demo that's veers closest to being a pure tech demo. Both players put their Joy-Con on the palm of their hands, and gently tilt it from side to side, feeling virtual marbles "bounce" inside. The goal is to ultimately guess the number of marbles inside, and in our experience, both of us would either correctly guess or be remarkably close to each other. It's not very fun or long-lasting as a game in itself, but it's the best example of Nintendo's "HD rumble" feature at work. The haptic feedback was precise enough to approximate the actual feeling of rolling marbles, down to pinpointing the difference between four and five of them. It got me more excited about the Joy-Cons as individual units than anything else I played at the event.

Which brings me back to my bafflement. Nintendo hasn't specified how much more will be included in 1-2-Switch, but so far it's a relatively modest collection of micro-games and tech demos. That seems like a tall order at an MSRP of $50, and unless there's more to it that we haven't seen, I don't expect it to sell much.

Even beyond the sticker shock or sales concerns, though why wouldn't Nintendo package its best sales tool right inside the box? 1-2-Switch has the potential to be the Wii Sports of this generation–a clever, small experience that lets each owner act as an ambassador and easily explain to friends and family what makes the system unique. Instead, it appears, Nintendo is insistent upon selling it separately, meaning that even some Switch owners themselves won't grasp its full range of capabilities.

This 1-2-Switch preview was based on a pre-release demo of the system at an event where refreshments were provided by Nintendo.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 16, 2017 1:45 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, 1-2-Switch is the Pack-in Game Nintendo Switch Deserves (Hands-On)

    • reply
      January 16, 2017 3:25 PM

      It is hilarious that they think many people will pay $50 for this game. Should have been included with the console.

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      January 16, 2017 3:34 PM

      It's clear what they will do. Wait for the hardcore crowd to buy it now, then by the holiday it will be included.

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        January 16, 2017 3:54 PM

        That's my bet too.

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        January 16, 2017 3:56 PM

        Yeah. Everybody is like "I'll wait till Christmas for the price drop." Nintendo has too much pride to have a price drop within 9 months of a launch. If they do anything, they'll add this game and/or something else to the package.

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          January 16, 2017 4:17 PM

          That, and they always release bundles. There was a period where 3DS got a different bundle roughly twice a year.

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          January 16, 2017 4:36 PM


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            January 16, 2017 4:54 PM

            And yet they didn't even try that with the Wii U.

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            January 16, 2017 5:03 PM

            I figured someone would bring it up. That unit was hilariously overpriced. Also strictly a mobile device. Not a console. I realize the switch is a hybrid. But it's being presented as a console first. Don't expect what happened that one time to happen again.

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              January 16, 2017 5:17 PM


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                January 16, 2017 6:05 PM

                Yeah yeah. The system wasn’t selling. You could walk into a gamestop on launch day and get one anywhere. The switch pre orders are selling well. There is interest for the system. Its a different scenario.

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            January 16, 2017 5:04 PM

            That happened because thy weren't moving units, if memory serves.

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              January 16, 2017 6:02 PM

              Right. And the switch pre orders are going off just fine.

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          January 16, 2017 6:46 PM

          Lol the Wii u had a price drop from $349 to $299 exactly 9 months from release.

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            January 16, 2017 6:48 PM

            Stop telling me that my post that I didn't fact check at all is wrong!

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              January 16, 2017 7:16 PM

              I appreciate your humility! I had to double check it myself!

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              January 16, 2017 7:53 PM

              Your wrong facts are wrong. Good night, sir

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            January 16, 2017 8:47 PM

            In addition they had the Wind Waker bundle and the "Pick a game bundle" where you could pick Zelda, Wii Party U, or NSBMU for download for free with the system.

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          January 16, 2017 8:34 PM

          Not only as everyone has said, NOA actually "dropped" the MSRP of the N64 from $249 to $199 like a month or two before the system even launched.

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            January 16, 2017 8:35 PM

            Post launch price drops are the issue here sir. Nice attempt at throwing more salt tho

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      January 16, 2017 5:51 PM

      If Nintendo can get 1/4 people buying a Switch to buy 1-2 that could be 25 million more revenue. $50 x 500,000 copies. With Zelda being the hit everyone wants seems like 1-2 will be lucky to sell 50,000 copies. Still that is 1 million more the if Nintendo packed it in with the Switch.

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        January 16, 2017 6:01 PM

        A pack in like Wii Sports or something like this turns owners into ambassadors for the technology in the controllers and the unique multiplayer the system has.

        Soft influence like this is hard to quantify, who knows how many people were sold on a Wii after playing someone else's? It seems like something that shouldn't be ignored unless there is hard data saying that splitting the purchase or making it a pack-in yields similar results, then making it a pay product would make more sense.

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        January 16, 2017 7:14 PM

        from what i see there are only 5 games at launch

        just dance

        consumers will buy 1-2-switch because it's one of the only games available.

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      January 16, 2017 5:58 PM


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        January 16, 2017 6:30 PM

        The pre orders were somewhat easy to come by on late Thursday night and most of Friday if you hung in there. Even a little bit on Saturday too. So I don't think they have artificially made it scarce to pick up. Whatever they've got ready to ship across the globe is probably what it'll sell at launch.

      • Ziz legacy 10 years legacy 20 years
        January 16, 2017 6:38 PM


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        January 16, 2017 7:07 PM

        whatever stock there is to sell

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        January 16, 2017 8:56 PM

        Last year Nintendo estimated 2 million for the fiscal quarter. Supposedly that's conservative. I think the fiscal quarter ends March 31st? So essentially 2 million in the month of March. According to Wikipedia Wii U did 3 million in its first fiscal quarter, but that was over 2 shopping months (November and December) so it's not a fair comparison.

        2 million seems fair for 1 month, in March? That's probably pretty good.

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        January 16, 2017 10:18 PM

        2 million, which is a pretty standard number for a launch. Both the XB1 and PS4 sold about that many in their first month.

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      January 16, 2017 7:07 PM

      i don't think so, steve. look back at something like wii sports or even better, nintendoland. those games were system sellers in my opinion. wii sports ended up a bit shallow but nintendo land had so much variety and different ACTUAL games to play. hell, i bought a wiiu after playing nintendo land at a friend's house.

      from the videos you guys posted of 1-2-switch, they hardly even seem like games rather than just demos to show off how the controllers can work? none of that looked fun and even if you get a bit of fun out of it, are you going to go back and play it after you've played through them all after an hour and the novelty is worn off?

      switch deserves a real game for a pack in.

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      January 16, 2017 7:58 PM

      Nintendo fans may purchase 1-2-Switch for $49.99 on March 3rd at select retail stores, or wait until March 4th where it will be available here: http://i.imgur.com/Egv97Qw.jpg

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      January 16, 2017 10:11 PM

      The biggest problem with 1-2-Switch is more fundamental than it not being a pack-in or the price.

      It lacks the weirdness, quirky characters, and thematic cohesion of WarioWare or Rhythm Heaven. It doesn't have relatable activities like Wii Sports. It lacks the depth and longevity of Nintendo Land.

      There's a way to put together tech demos in a way that is cohesive and appealing, like the other games I mentioned above. The biggest surprise for me is that they kind of didn't accomplish this with 1-2-Switch.

      I suspect that the biggest problem might be the development team. The same team that made Wii Sports and Nintendo Land (as well as other games like Animal Crossing) have been busy with the Splatoon series for the last couple years. They totally understand gameplay, depth, tone, and theme in a way that this other team doesn't seem to.

      WIthout that special touch it seems to be like countless other VR demos out there, something that demonstrates what the technology is capable of but falls apart shortly after that.

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      January 17, 2017 12:01 AM

      It seems very like Wii Play to me, but no one's mentioned that. The wii play tech demos were probably more substantial than this I guess.

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      January 17, 2017 12:14 AM

      I'm excited for everything about this and the switch. But I just can't be a day one buyer. Need feed back on too many things they haven't made clear yet. Plus this game being regular price is crazy.

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      January 17, 2017 4:31 AM

      I thought 1,2 switch was a joke at first ...

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