A Gratuitous Ranking of All the Games in 1-2-Switch

Oh, did you think I was done talking about 1-2-Switch? When I said I was a champion of mini-game compilations, I wasn’t kidding! While trying to talk about it in broad strokes is one thing, I secretly enjoy writing out gratuitous ranking lists with little blurbs. And really, the internet seems to eat them up too, so why not please everybody?

While I can tell you that 1-2-Switch is a great game that, while maybe not necessarily worth the price it’s at now, is worth at least your time sometime down the road because playing with other people seems to be a lost art that Nintendo continually tries time and time again to instill in everybody. Seriously, it’s fun to play games with family and friends. They tend to call you less offensive names to boot. Without further ado, here’s my ranking of all twenty-eight mini-games in 1-2-Switch:

28. Sneaky Dice

I’ve literally only played Sneaky Dice once. It’s not fun, it’s utterly random and it barely qualifies as a game. It’s the type of thing your mom would try to device on a long car trip where the radio only picks up fuzz and you brought no toys, or books or games. There’s nothing else for her to do to entertain you than create an on-the-spot-asinine game that has muddy rules. It’s not quite Hell but its pretty close.

It’s a game in which you roll dice, guess what your number is, guess what your opponent’s number is, and then try to trick them into guessing if your or their number is higher or lower…I guess? In other words it’s a lot of guessing.

I’d rather be the person who’s the first to find a cow in the barren prairie of middle South Dakota during a vacation than play this game again.

 27. Joy-Con Rotation

Much like Sneaky Dice, Joy-Con Rotation doesn’t make enough sense to be fun. You and your opponent take turns gently picking the controller off the ground, moving it to a certain degree, then putting it back down. Apparently you aren’t supposed to “upset the balance,” but being cryptic isn’t a very good goal to have.

The only reason it places slightly above Sneaky Dice is you don’t have to be stupidly dubious to your opponent.

26. Dance Off

Dance Off is a reminder that in order to get the most out of 1-2-Switch, you need to check your inhibitions at the door. The more you let go and just goof around, the more fun it becomes.

There are a set of mini-games here that are nothing more than a novelty; you dink around with it once or twice (or more depending on whether you get new people to play) and not much else. Dance Off in particular has you just simply dancing. There’s a score that’s constantly tallying as you go, but as to what advances it faster or slower is an utter mystery.

It takes a lot for me to want to cut loose, but the sillier something is the more apt I am to do it. Unfortunately for Dance Off, I’m reticent to show off my moves so it ended up being the biggest loser out of all the novelty experiences.

25. Gorilla

Gorilla is another novelty act, this time having you bang your chest to a rhythm with the winner garnering the loving affection of a lady gorilla with a pink bow in her hair.

It’s a little more game-ish than Dance Off and it’s definitely funnier for an audience, but thumping your chest isn’t something you’ll come back to often.

24. Air Guitar

Air Guitar is a more superfluous activity like Dance Off, but it must be said that people are more apt into get into fake shredding than to court like a monkey or get jiggy with it. You quickly notice that everyone has their own style when they unleash their inner metal head, therefore this game is more likely to get picked if only by the party host to see how everyone does.

 23. Runway

I like this one a lot simply because it’s amazing how into people can get! The goal is to strut up and down an imaginary runway while striking poses in between beats. It’s utterly ridiculous, weirdly cathartic and the most fun novelty to watch as a bystander.

22. Zen

Unlike everything else in 1-2-Switch which relies of exaggerated motions, Zen forces you to compete with others by being as still as possible. While it sounds kind of boring, it’s an awesome test of patience watching my fidgety children attempt to do this. It’s like torture that’s also a game.

21. Copy Dance

Whereas Dance Off just had you marching to the beat of your own drum, Copy Dance has you make a wacky pose that your opponent then has to copy. Think of it as a stylin’ and profilin’ taking on H.O.R.S.E. and I think you’ll get the idea.

How the game reads what you’re doing and whether or not your opponent is properly copying you is a bit ambiguous, but it doesn’t matter a whole lot because being silly is the real goal. Like a lot of what’s on offer in 1-2-Switch, there’s just as much added to the experience via the crowd as there is for those who are holding the controllers. A subtle reminder of why party games are worth your time.

20. Boxing Gym

Boxing Gym is very similar to Copy Dance in cadence, but it feels a little more technical and there is a defined move set with jabs, uppercuts and hooks. Maybe not as fun in large groups, but better when there’s two of you.

 19. Plate Spin

Plate Spin get the award for creepiest characters by a long, long shot but what it loses is sheer scariness it makes up for in being a big proponent in playing a video game in a way that doesn’t actually involve the screen.

You hold your joy-con like a stick and rotate it furiously to keep an imaginary plate spinning. The HD rumble helps suspend your disbelief and while that in itself is a neat trick, the game because crazy fun when you try to mess with your opponents while simultaneously keeping your plate afloat. More often than not your attempts at hosing your opponent means you’re distracted just enough to lose focus and drop your own.

I know people cry foul that this was the whole point of Johann Sebastian Joust, but this is a little more consumer friendly than having to buy Move controllers and such.

Also: someone please bring Johann Sebastian Joust to Switch.

 18. Telephone

Telephone is the prime example one could use to show off what makes 1-2-Switch fun to the lowest common denominator. You probably read that as “show this thing to dumb people”, but rather it’s the quickest thing people will grasp onto when trying to describe the tech behind the Switch.

You put the Joy-Cons on a table and wait for it to ring, the first person to pick it up wins. It’s succinct and to the point, but also a reminder that it’s not to be played ad infinitum, but rather in rotation with everything else that’s on offer. Unlike a lot of other games in 1-2-Switch, someone will eventually come back to this one.

17. Baseball

Have you ever played imaginary baseball when left to your own devices on a field? You know, where you pretend to pitch the ball, someone else pretends to hit it and you usually emulate an announcer by saying that the crowd goes wild?

That’s Baseball in 1-2-Switch.

16. Wizard

It’s by no means my favorite game on this compilation, but my kids really dig the back and forth of trying to “out-spell” each other so it gets a spot further up the list.

This is one of the first examples of using the feel behind HD rumble to really gauge what you’re doing. The gist is that you have to thrust your wand at your opponent to try and move a powerful orb into them. Swinging willy-nilly is a legitimate strategy, but there’s a defensive portion to it where you can kind of “catch” the orb by pulling back, then thrusting forward in the hopes that you’ll make it collide with your opponent.

It’s deeper than anyone is likely to give it credit for.

15. Sword Fight

Another favorite amongst my kin is Sword Fight which, like Wizard, has an ebb and flow to it that’s very engaging…assuming you’re playing against someone who isn’t just flailing. There are horizontal and vertical attacks that you must block and swing with that feel sublime thanks to the rumble.

I’d say this is a lot safer than actually swinging sticks or something at each other, but I’ve seen near misses with merely Joy-Cons and it’s a bit scary.

14. Baby

While most motion control situations revolve around exaggerated movement, Baby is all about subtlety.

You must cradle the Switch as a baby resides within the screen, and you have to rock it gently to get to go to sleep. When you think you have her down, you must then softly put her down to complete your task. I imagine it doesn’t feel wholly unsimilar to what it probably feels like when you rope a calf and tie its legs together.

It’s a weird juxtaposition of trying to be quick but also calm about what you’re doing. But it’s also oddly satisfying when you pull it off. Too bad getting actual babies to sleep wasn’t this easy!

13. Treasure Chest

One of the few games in 1-2-Switch where you actually need a screen, Treasure Chest has you rotating your Joy-Con to unravel a large chain that’s wrapped around a, well, treasure chest.

Like Baby, there’s an interesting mix of subtlety and haste involved in trying to unwrap your prize before your opponent. I like how the rumble snaps a little when you get the chain around corners in yet another curious use of visceral feedback.

12. Ball Count

If there were one game that I would show somebody that would make you believe in the power of HD rumble, Ball Count is it.

Your goal is to rotate and move your Joy-Con as if it were a box filled with marbles. And, as you’ve probably heard or suspected, it feels exactly like a box filled with marbles. This is one of those things where a gimmick can be simply amazing while still resembling something that would be continually fun.

I never stop being wowed by this game.

11. Safe Crack

While most games up until this point give off strong vibrations when it comes to rumble, Safe Crack is a reminder of how understated it can be.

You have to twist your Joy-Con back and forth to feels a click as you attempt to open a safe. Being as you’re competing with somebody else, there’s a lot involved with making sure you’re accurate but precise. There’s a certain anxiety you get when you realize your opponent hit their first tumbler that makes you want to go a little faster.

This is a great game for people who maybe can’t get the hang of the other games because a deftness is needed instead of going big.

10. Samurai Training

In this game, players take turns trying to swing a katana into their opponent while their opponent must try and catch the oncoming strike. Samurai Training is one of many games where hesitation plays a big factor in your performance, and where performance is part of the fun.

You can fake out your opponent when swinging to try and either mess up their timing or just straight up have them inadvertently catch what isn’t coming, then go in for the strike. In doing so, you start to play the part of a samurai, which is when you realize 1-2-Switch blurs the line between being a game and being actual play.

9. Shave

This is the most realistic shaving simulator I have ever played!

Without the perk of a mirror, you must try and more of your face then your opponent just by feel. Like I said, it’s a very convincing game that I think makes it more entertaining than it would otherwise.

8. Soda Shake

Soda Shake is hot potato by all accounts. Each player takes turns shaking a bottle of soda then passing it to the next player. At certain intervals the fizziness starts to get stronger, letting you know it’s getting ready to pop.

It’s simple for sure, but it’s also one of the few games where you can involve more than one other person in to the competition.

7. Signal Flags

Of all the games on offer in 1-2-Switch, Signal Flags is the most complex. Take that with a grain of salt; that’s like saying Star Wars is high cinema or Beastie Boys License to Ill was their greatest work – not technically true, but you can’t forget the importance it has to their franchise/work as a whole.

The game shouts out directions you must swing your imaginary flag…assuming who you’re listening to. There’s also an opposing voice that, when you hear it, you must swing your flag in the opposite position. In theory it sounds simple, but trying to listen in between laughing or, as is most likely the case, in a big rollicking group is much harder than you’d think.

While this cracked the top ten in my list, I’m sure my kids would put it substantially below because, you know, listening is not their forte.

6. Beach Flag

What’s with all these flags, you say? Well, apparently they make for some interesting experiences.

Beach Flag is extremely simple; you must run with all your might until you reach the titular goal before your opponent does. What makes it so much fun isn’t the act of running (although I should do more of it IRL) but in spectating. Watching people run in place is ridiculous and kind of awesome.

Please check your reticence at the door; it’s time to get goofy.

5. Eating Contest

Ah, the top five. Where most people with common sense would have written a post and called it good. Probably a smarter move.

But I digress.

Eating Contest has you pointing the IR sensor in the right Joy-Con at your mouth and chomping the living hell out of some submarine sandwiches. Whoever eats the most wins.

Remember how I said Beach Flag was fun to watch? It’s got absolutely nothing on Eating Contest. Watching people fake it is the most bizarre and, in turn, most fun to watch. Will they smack their lips? Bare their teeth? Make noise while flapping their gums?

I don’t know, but I’m going to make sure anyone that comes within a certain vicinity of my Switch play this so I can find out.

4. Table Tennis

While there are games that require you to listen or feel what’s going on in order to win, Table Tennis is interesting in the fact that the only way I can describe playing it is by sensing what’s going on.

There’s a certain cadence to Table Tennis, where everything from the ping of the ball on your fake paddle to the sound of that little hollow ball bouncing off an imaginary green table sway what you’re doing. The less you observe and the more you pretend will serve you well. Not an intention pun, but I’ll take it.

There’s some depth here with serving and power shots, but really the meat of the game comes from the tension of staring down your opponent and seeing who has a better feel for the sport.

3. Quick Draw

Quick Draw is the game that almost immediately gets picked first in anyone’s rotation.

It’s easy to understand, it feels very weighty and almost everyone squints their eyes and wriggles their fingers over their Joy-Con as if they were a true outlaw. You forget that this is a game and just settle in to this sense of play that is unparalleled. Everyone has a certain style when they play the game, whether it’s to try and psych out their opponent with their facial features or by swinging their opposing hand in a ploy to get their foe to draw early.

It’s very tempting to have a set of ten-gallon hats just to complete the ruse.

2. Fake Draw

Quick Draw in and of itself is a hoot; it made it to number three on the list. Have the game spout out words like “flower” and “foot” instead of fire just adds this new layer of subversiveness to an already incendiary experience and you have pure magic. Well, pure except for…

1. Milk

Oh, Milk. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Squeezing a virtual teat wraps up all the special moments each game individually brings to 1-2-Switch and wraps it into this amazing, visceral moment of existential confusion.

There’s a subtlety to massaging a cows udder, where both pull and squeeze are taking into account. You can’t help but gaze into your opponent’s eyes as you watch them caress the teat in their attempt to smoothly collect alpha dairy. There’s that quick spark of realization that yes Goddammit you’re a better rancher than your opponent. There’s the realization that video games are supposed to be fun and all pretenses of seriousness have been thrown out the window as you compete in this colossal challenge.

If the Joy-Con’s were able to heat up in your hands as you went, 1-2-Switch would totally be Game of the Year material.

The Do-Want List | Owlboy

Developer/Publisher: D-Pad Studio

Release Date: TBA

Being a game player who owns only one main console, there’s often these games that interest me but because the odds of it coming to what I have sitting under my TV are kind of slim they just pass on from my subconscious after a while. It’s the price you pay for being conscientious with your money and staying focused on what’s available to you rather than keeping up with the Joneses. That being said, I tend to hang my hopes on independent and smaller games, simply because they’re more likely to come to what I have as they tend to hone in on mechanics and artistic styling rather than sheer technical prowess. Even so, there are still those games that don’t come out on what I have regardless if it’s technically feasible to or not and much like the triple A titles just kind of come and go in my mind.

That’s what I assumed of Owlboy. Until now.

It feels like Owlboy has been a long time coming…mostly because it was. Developer D-Pad Studio had been working on it for almost a decade before it finally released just a few months ago to almost nothing but accolades and adoration. The lazy elevator pitch is that it’s a tried and true Metroidvania, but between it’s fascinating open world and your ability to fly protagonist Otus around it there’s definitely something that makes it stick out from the rest of the pack.

While most games of this ilk tend to be dark and dreary, Owlboy steps into the light with aplomb. The world Otus and his pals inhabit looks to be filled with a sense of wonderment that doesn’t often find itself in a lot of games. It just begs to be explored. There looks to be a focus on carrying things, including companions that turn the game into this sort of twin stick shooter as you journey through sky islands, magnificent dungeons and majestic treetop areas.

While I could probably get Owlboy on my PC, I have a hard time doing so because I see it more as a utility than something I can game on. It coming to the Switch is a blessing; it’s definitely the type of game I’ll sink my teeth into and will want to experience on both my TV and well, any other spare moment I can put the stupid thing in my hands. Hopefully this is coming sooner rather than later!

The Listless Cartographer: Finding My Own Path in Breath of the Wild

As I’ve been making my way through The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I’ve begun to discover a lot about how I play games. It’s no epiphany as I’m pretty sure I’ve always followed a certain methodology since time immemorial (or  at least since the 80s), only that I’ve caught on to what I’ve been doing when faced with a beast of a game that’s had me enraptured since I first booted it up.

I am by nature a very deliberate person, not particularly prone to snap decisions or fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-ism. The few times that I have gone in guns blazing was met with not necessarily disaster but a realization that I didn’t go into a situation particularly level-headed. Thinking it through just works better for me as I apparently have a crappy gut instinct.

This is how I play games — I walk into something and take a step back rather than charge in full tilt. I’m a nooks and crannies type of guy; I like to soak in the ambiance, take in the sights and poke around in parts unexplored. Now remember that I’m playing the colossal Breath of the Wild. I think you know where I’m going here.

While that’s how I’ve rolled for a very long time, Breath of the Wild perpetuates this with its introductory area and helped me settle into a routine as I scour Hyrule for Korok seeds, shines, treasure chests and maybe a Divine Beast or four. Within a few minutes the wispy, ethereal voice of Zelda tells you to scope out a hidden tower, which opens up a segment of your map. You’re then urged by an old man to use your Sheikah Slate to scour the horizon for shrines that you need to complete in order for him to give you his paraglider. After this, most players (or maybe it’s just me) hike the perimeter of the Great Plateau as they set out to complete this task. Before you know it, the Old Man pushes you towards the Dueling Peaks (replete with a tower on the way) and you’re setting on this grand adventure.

As we’ve all probably discovered, the world is your oyster in Breath of the Wild. What I’ve discovered is that while I enjoy trotting around the world and stumbling upon secrets, I do so in a very meticulous and calculated fashion.

The first step involves, well, finding the tower in an area, scaling it then opening up a new chunk of map. This in itself is fun as each tower is a bit of a puzzle as to how you ascend it. But once you do that, it’s the same song and dance that has you surveying the land, marking interesting points with the always handy pins and doing your thing.

I like to segment my new map into areas based on landmarks, roads and rivers. I then set off for said segment and tootle around. I’ve quickly soused out that the main hook of the game, for me at least, isn’t necessarily the storyline (which in all fairness is great, but not the impetus for my journey at this point) or reaching 100% completion but just in seeing what Hyrule has to offer an ardent hiker like myself. The fact that I’m constantly finding little rewards for just traveling is like frosting on the cake.

Maybe this doesn’t sound fun to you; but I tend to be kind of a planner, so mapping out (figuratively and literally) my route, marking points of interest on my map and just walking around is a highly enjoyable experience for me. Even though I’m deliberate doesn’t mean I can’t be swayed to go off the beaten path if I see something shiny or intriguing in the distance. It just means that once I’m done meandering I go back to where I was going so I can do it all over again.  It’s been so much fun I’ve barely made a dent in anything I’d call progress in the story in lieu of just adventuring.

Most people have or are in the process of wrapping up The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild so they can “move on”, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be playing this through the summer because of my thoroughness. With this not only being a generation shift for me as far as what gaming console I play on, it’s also a shift in perspective. I don’t mind taking my time, and I’m in no hurry to get to the next game. I’ve picked up a few more games since then, and feel guilty as I see them on the menu of my Switch, left unplayed. Someday I’ll get to them. But that day isn’t coming anytime soon.