Nintendo's bumper Switch showcase on 13 January showcased the (quite small) range of games coming to its home-handheld hybrid console on or around its worldwide launch on 3 March. Thanks to an earlier reveal, we all knew that the big-guns - Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and a new Super Mario title - were on the horizon.
In true Nintendo fashion, however, it kicked off its roster reveal not with a AAA explosion, but with a mini-game collection that appears to fill the same launch title spot for the Switch that party game favourites Wii Sports and Nintendo Land did for the Wii and Wii U respectively, by perfectly encapsulating the weird and often wonderful ways that Nintendo's bold hardware choices can lead to surprising new ways to play, while also being a splash of silly fun.
First off, though, we have to address the rather large elephant in the room. Yes, 1-2 Switch has all the hallmarks of a game that comes part and parcel with the console itself, but it's not.
Exactly how many bite-sized games are included in the final standalone product is still unknown, but after sampling six of them at the Switch's first hands-on event, we can't help but think that the basic visuals and pick-up-and-play nature of the experiences would fare better as a fun freebie to crack out at parties. But boy, what a party you'd have.
1-2 Switch is designed for two players using the Switch's 'Joy-Con' motion controllers that detach from either side of the system's portable screen. Of the half-dozen we played, the best mini-games were the ones that took full advantage of each Joy-Con's initially confusing, but ultimately intuitive button set-up and/or its haptic feedback tech - which Nintendo is calling 'HD Rumble'.
Explaining exactly how these work is made easier with examples - a fact that shows precisely how well 1-2 Switch communicates the capabilities of the Joy-Cons to a new players.
Take the safe-cracking game. There are two safes, two numbered dials, and a tonne of gold spoils inside for the victor. Each player takes a Joy-Con and holds it out, horizontal to the screen, turning in a circular motion to spin the rotary lock until you feel a distinct clunk of a lock through the HD rumble.
The game's trick here is that the rumble is always there as you rotate the lock, clicking with each tiny increment. Players need to find the point at which the dial gives and hold the controller steady once they've found it. This larger clunk sensation is easy to miss, requiring very slight and delicate movements from the player.
A guessing game that turns the Joy-Con into a small wooden box contain an unknown number of ball bearings functions in a similar fashion, except this time the goal is to guess how many balls are inside based solely on the surprisingly realistic rumble. If this sounds easy, then just wait until you try and differentiate between four and five minor, usually simultaneous bumps against the box's sides.
Both of these two games - as well as a more simplistic dance-off one - utilise images on a TV screen, but the other three we sampled ignored the visuals entirely - an odd thing to say about an entertainment medium that has hard-coded its audience to stare at a displays large and small. Instead, the focus is laid squarely on your opponent.
There's a samurai game in which players take turns between swinging a non-existent sword onto the other player's head and trying to catch said sword in their hands. Both this and the wild west showdown game, which uses the Joy-Cons shoulder button as a gun trigger as you try to draw and fire your sidearm/controller faster than the other player, quickly turn into exercises in practicing your poker face and psyching out your opposition, not with a button press or a gameplay trick, but by intently staring at them, second guessing their next move and getting your reflexes ready to strike first.
We would say the same about the cow-milking mini-game, but that has potentially scarred this particular writer for life (you can read all about that innuendo-heavy ordeal here) and bringing it up summons memories and feelings of discomfort that some of us would prefer to repress indefinitely.
All in all, we came away from 1-2 Switch grinning like idiots. It's the game Switch needs at launch, one shaping to become a go-to for friend and family gatherings.
Our only major concern is with its longevity, or lack-thereof. While Wii Sports' Tennis and Bowling had a just-one-more-go appeal, each 1-2 Switch game felt more like one-and-done jolts of fun. This could, however, be offset by the final number of mini-games available (with promotional images showing others like an eating game, table tennis and another where you use the Joy-Con as a phone for, well... something), or updates that add more games over time.
Nevertheless, it shows the potential of the Switch's clip-off Wiimote stand-ins in future games. In fact, if there isn't a WarioWare title already in production that expands on 1-2 Switch's best bits, that would be a crying shame.
1-2 Switch is a launch title for Nintendo Switch, which will be released on 3 March for £279.99.