“Everybody 1-2-Switch! is a perfectly enjoyable minigame collection dragged down by what feel like obvious oversights.”
- Great mass-multiplayer potential
- A handful of standout minigames
- Infectious energy
- A few too many duds
- Agonizingly slow paced
- Lacking key options
“Is this game good, or do I just like the people I’m playing it with?”
That’s a question I often ask myself when trying out a multiplayer game, but it’s especially at the forefront of my mind with Everybody 1-2 Switch! Over a long holiday weekend, I’d spend some joyous hours digging into the Switch’s new minigame collection with some dear friends and my far-too-supportive girlfriend. The zany hours we’d spend summoning UFOs and pumping up balloons were filled with laughs, creating some warm memories I’ll likely hold with me longer than any Mario Kart 8 Deluxe match.
And yet, I’m still left days later chewing over that lingering question. A lot of our laughs came from a place of pure irony, poking fun at its bizarre aesthetic and cursing its frustrating design quirks. We pulled more entertainment out of its downright worst minigames than we did its well-designed ones, having an unhinged blast laughing at one another’s agony. Is it the kind of game I’d confidently tell a Switch owner to buy? No. But did it accomplish exactly what an effective party game should do in those few hours, regardless of how technically sound it is? Yes.
Everybody 1-2-Switch! is exactly as fun as the people you’re playing it with. Removed from any social context, it’s a mixed bag of motion-controlled minigames weighed down by glacial pacing and a lack of much-needed customization options. That’s almost irrelevant, though; any enjoyment derived from it will have less to do with its quality and more to do with how willing your friends are to cut loose. And at the very least, the package creates enough potential for a hit of silly, mass-multiplayer fun, even if it’ll only occupy a few game nights before it gets old.
Everybody 1-2-Switch! is a sequel to 2017’s 1-2-Switch, a bizarre (and perhaps overpriced) minigame collection that helped launch the Nintendo Switch. The sequel was already a bit infamous before it was even announced thanks to a 2022 Fanbyte report chronicling its troubled development. Nintendo fans have braced themselves for disaster since then, but the final product isn’t nearly as dire as one might expect from such an explosive report. Instead, the package is perfectly middling with its fair shares of highs and lows.
Its most immediate success is its mass-multiplayer potential, as it can be played with eight people via Joy-cons or 100 using smartphones. That second feat is nothing to scoff at, as it makes Everybody 1-2-Switch! an ideal title for schools, youth groups, messy parties, and more. Though I experienced lots of tech hiccups at a demo event for the game before launch, my experience with the retail copy was mostly stable with four players.
Most of my tech hiccups came when my phone went into sleep mode, forcing me to quickly reconnect mid-minigame. When setting up a phone, the game recommends tweaking several settings on your device to make it work optimally, which seems a touch too complicated for something primarily aimed at young kids. Even so, the connection process is otherwise quick and easy with a simple QR code scan.
From there out, everything is thankfully straightforward. I could select a 20-, 40-, or 60-minute team-based minigame competition, which would have two teams fighting to win the most rounds. There aren’t really many options outside of that aside from enabling a pro mode that weaves in more complicated variants of games or the ability to play games carte blanche once unlocking them. It’s a thin party game setup, but it doesn’t really need to be anything more than that — especially considering the sequel’s more appropriate bargain bin price tag.
After a quick reintroduction to the series brand of zany, kid-friendly humor, my friends and I were ready for some heated competition. We’d start digging into the minigames selection and coming out with mixed results. While the original 1-2-Switch worked as a tech demo for the then-new Joy-cons, showing off features like HD rumble, the sequel simplifies things by mostly relying on Wii-era waggling controls. That’s fine, but it does take away some of the oddball charm that made the original special. Nothing here is quite as ridiculous as pretending to eat a sandwich by chewing in front of an IR sensor.
Even so, there are still some clever ideas in the package. In Joy-con Hide and Seek, one team hides their controller somewhere in the play area, leaving the other team to find it as quickly as possible by triggering vibrations. Balloons, on the other hand, is a tense game of chicken where two teams cooperate to blow up their balloons as big as possible without popping them. Then there’s Relay Race, in which players have to run in place and pass their Joy-Con between one another like a baton. Each is an exceptionally clever idea that encourages actual teamwork and clear communication.
There are some similarly strong ideas in the crop of smartphone-supported games. Color Shoot is as good as any Jackbox game. In it, teams are shown a color and they must take a photo of something around them that most closely matches that shade. It’s a great use of smartphone integration that’s far and away the most creative game in the package.
While there are high highs here, the majority of the games are simply passable. Statues is a basic game of Red Light Green Light, Jump Rope is exactly what it sounds like, and Bingo is about as exciting as you’re expecting. Others’ ideas are funny the first time, but wear out their welcome quickly. Squats, for instance, has players squatting every time an on-screen coach says the word “squat” — the twist being that they sometimes pepper in words like “squash” instead. I laughed the first time I tried it, but it’s a one-note idea that tends to pop up a lot.
The problem is that Everybody 1-2-Switch! is a lot thinner than it looks on paper. It has over 40 minigames, nearly doubling the amount in its predecessor, but that’s not exactly the case. Each game has multiple variants, each of which counts for a game. For instance, there are five versions of its simple reflex-testing Quiz Show game, each of which has a different twist (sound-based questions, true or false prompts, etc). With such a deceptively small pool of games, that means that stinkers tend to reappear over and over.
It feels like trying to review Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
That takes me to the minigame that really forced me to meditate on what makes a good party game. Early on, my friends and I were subjected to UFOs, an exhausting game that had us waving our arms up and down in rhythm until they hurt. It’s the package’s worst game by a country mile and it repeatedly popped up, alongside its equally bad variants, in nearly every round. I could go on and on about how poorly designed I feel it is, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t the funniest moment of our entire session. Watching my friends curse at the screen and laugh at one another as we worked through the pain made for the biggest laughs of any session I played.
Where’s the line between good and bad in a case like that? If we’re having fun, does it really matter how the game is? In that sense, Everybody 1-2-Switch! is an incredibly challenging game to critique; it feels like trying to review Pin the Tail on the Donkey. The game itself is just a vessel to get a rise out of players and whether or not it succeeds is going to be entirely context-dependent. It worked well enough for my crew and I do think that’s a credit to the game in a lot of ways thanks to its infectious, silly attitude. Even so, it’s hard to imagine the thin, uneven collection of minigames really keeping that group entertained for more than an hour or two.
While it’s difficult to critique some aspects of Everybody 1-2-Switch, other flaws were obvious to everyone I played with. The package’s primary pain point comes from its agonizingly slow pace, which drags every play session out. Each minigame opens with a long preamble that’s usually far longer than the actual minigame. When the butt-sumo Hip Bump comes up in the rotation, my entire team is forced to complete a three-step tutorial every single round. If a Hip Bump variant comes up during the same session, we still have to complete that every single time. It’s especially a pain in a game like Ninjas that is quite literally over in seconds as players simply wave their Joy-Con once to slash their opponent quickly.
The jokes get old, minigame gimmicks grow stale, and the tutorials feel longer each time.
What’s worse is that there aren’t really ways to get around some of the most egregious pace-killers, as there are no customization options to speak of. If you hate UFOs as much as me, you’re out of luck; you just have to pray it doesn’t show up in the minigame rotation. After a few rounds, it got to the point where my friends would agree to restart games altogether if they started with a game we didn’t like. That’s not an ideal solution either, considering that it can take a fair amount of time to sign in via a smart device or set up Joy-Con profiles each time.
There’s a quick and easy party game here that ultimately gets lost in some puzzling quality-of-life omissions. Perhaps skipping was intentionally left out to make sure little kids didn’t accidentally zip through them. Or perhaps it’s just Nintendo’s way of making mere minutes of actual playtime feel longer than it really is. Whatever the justification, decisions like that make the idea of firing up a casual round feel a little tiresome after a while.
That’s where Everybody 1-2-Switch! ultimately fails to pass my “good game or good friends?” test. It makes for some wildly unpredictable fun the first time it’s booted up, but every session after that delivers diminishing returns. The jokes get old, minigame gimmicks grow stale, and the tutorials feel longer each time. I’ll always cherish the memories I have of playing it for the first time in the same way I still remember the one night I played the original 1-2-Switch years ago. I might even break it out for a new group of friends down the line to give them that same first impression. But Everybody 1-2-Switch! ultimately functions more as a toy than it does a party game, and I’m already on the lookout for the next shiny thing.