I stared coldly into Charlie’s eyes, determined to furiously stroke the flaccid udder of an imaginary cow faster than he possibly could.
“I am going to milk you dry,” he quips, with a twinkle of madness in his eye.
Yes, that was a real exchange that really happened, with absolutely no embellishment. Welcome to the future of Nintendo…
Charlie and I were exchanging these filthy jabs during our hands-on time with the Nintendo Switch at a Nintendo hosted event in Melbourne this past Saturday. We were playing 1-2 Switch, a bundle collection of mini-games that will be one of the Switch’s upcoming launch titles. Not dissimilar to Wii Sports and Nintendoland on the Wii and Wii U before it, 1-2 Switch is clearly intended to be a family-friendly, multiplayer inclusive game that show off the new technology featured in the Switch’s new Joy Con controllers, like the gyroscope motion controls and HD rumble feedback.
Now we made a bit of fun of 1-2 Switch in our rundown of the Nintendo Switch presentation last week, mainly because Nintendo was selling it on the novelty of playing a video game without using a screen and instead “staring into each other’s eyes”, kind of throwing the whole “video” part of “video game” out the window. In practice, the screen is actually utilised to a degree, primarily as a means to register and display players’ scores, but in no more ways than an advanced toy. Does that still make it a video game? That’s a debate for another day.
But I think Charlie and I would be in agreement that despite our initial mockery, 1-2 Switch was indeed quite fun for the few minutes per mini-game we played. It’s gimmicky as hell and not something you’d probably play very frequently, but much like Wii Sports before it I could certainly see it being a game families might bust out at parties.
We got to experience four of the mini-games that will be available in the full version, Quick Draw, Samurai, Ball Count and Milk, although our instructors could not confirm for us what the total number would be come launch day.
Quick Draw is fairly self explanatory, where a count down prompts two players to imitate a Western style stand off by whipping up their Joy Cons and pulling the triggers, and to then check the Switch’s screen to see who shot first. Samurai was similar, only one player’s Joy Con represented a katana they had to slice down on the opponent, who in turn had to clap their hands to try and catch the blade.
And then there’s Milk, or as I like to call it “How-The-Hell-Did-This-Concept-Make-It-Through-The-Development-Period-Of-A-G-Rated-Game?!” Our instructions for this challenge were to milk the udder of our imaginary cows with our Joy-Con as quickly as possible, all while staring into each others’ eyes in order to psyche us out. But there’s more to playing the game than looking at your friends while you appear to give competitive hand-jobs, for there is a technique to correctly milking your cow. To perform a perfect stroke, we first must depress the first shoulder button on our Joy-Con, and as we slide down the
shaft udder use our other fingers to hit the second shoulder button. Here’s a video to show you what I mean:
Yeah, when I said earlier that 1-2 Switch was intended to be a family-friendly game, I really want to stress the word “intended”.
Keeping with the filthy jokes, while a couple could be made around Ball Count, a game where you literally are trying to count how many balls you can feel in your hand, they’re much more of a stretch than with Milk. Ball Count makes use of the Joy Cons HD rumble feedback feature, where motors in the controller can simulate the feeling of something rattling around inside it. Charlie and I had to hold our Joy Cons horizontally in the palms of our hands and tilt them back and forth to try and discern how many balls were inside.
While I wouldn’t say it felt 100% real, there was enough specificity and subtlety to the motors that I could tell the difference between there being three balls in the first round and then two in the next (I got both correct, unlike Charlie). Not the most mind blowing experience, but it will be interesting to see if and how this technology will be utilised in other games and whether it will go the way of Dual Shock 4’s touch-pad and just end up being cast aside.
All in all, 1-2 Switch was more fun than we expected, but it’s definitely the tech-demo-esque launch game in the Nintendo Switch’s lineup, and those games rarely have much worth beyond the first couple weeks of ownership. People who regularly throw parties may find more mileage, and perhaps the rest of the activities will bring more to the table, but it probably won’t be the killer app Nintendo wants it to be.
Stay tuned for more impressions of the Switch’s hardware and games lineup in the coming days.