Nintendo makes some of the best family friendly party games out there. The Mario Party series is a great example, essentially a board game with a variety of minigames attached. While you could also put Smash Bros. or Mario Kart on that list, these “minigame collections” are what I think of when I see the term party game. Everybody 1-2-Switch! is a follow up to the Switch launch title of a similar name. 1-2-Switch! was a great way to show off what the new Joy-Con controllers were capable of, so what is Everybody trying to accomplish here? Well, after playing in a variety of settings, I’m honestly not sure.
Everybody 1-2-Switch! has no single player whatsoever. This isn’t unprecedented for a multiplayer centric party game, but still an annoying oversight if you just want to try out a minigame or two. However, the game does support two to one hundred players simultaneously depending on your setup. Booting up the game, you need to select whether you’ll be playing with Joy-Cons (up to eight people) or smart devices (up to one hundred). Your selection of minigames can differ depending on your controller, so choose wisely.
A note before we move forward, while the game does not support online play, you can technically get around this by having one player stream their gameplay using smart device mode. Other players simply scan the QR code to join, adding a name and uploading a photo to represent them. This is how I mostly played Everybody 1-2-Switch! (aside from just using two Joy-Cons by myself), both being the streamer and joining a friend’s game. Not being in the same room as the console will introduce some lag, but aside from a single minigame I found it to be negligible. Still, this will not be taken into consideration when judging the game as a whole as it is an unintended side effect and not part of the game itself.
Once you’re in, you are greeted by Horace – your party’s horrifying, cgi-horse mask host. While looking at him is uncanny, as his plastic mask blinks and eats carrots, his English voice by Shai Matheson (Seranoa in Triangle Strategy, Camuravi in Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and most recently L’ubor in Final Fantasy XVI) does a great job of sounding energetic and presenting each minigame. I do get the feeling he’s talking to the youngest people possible playing the game, but I imagine that age group won’t feel like they’re being talked down to. Still, it’s a strange choice seeing as all the art and marketing feature exclusively adults playing.
Everybody 1-2-Switch! has three modes to choose from: Team Contest, Quiz Party, and Bingo Party. Team Contest is the main mode, and is divided into three options: 20 minutes, 40 minutes, and 60 minutes. Team Contest also contains both Quiz Party and Bingo Party as minigames, so those modes are just extended versions of those minigames. Regardless of how much time you choose, you can customize your Team Contest experience slightly by including or excluding minigames that require you to move around, whether you can make loud footsteps, and enable or disable a handicap benefiting smaller teams. There’s also an option between normal and pro minigames, but after several sessions I have not unlocked this.
Once your party is divided into two teams on the left and right sides of the screen, both teams compete to earn a specified amount of points by winning minigames. Four minigames are available at once on a roulette wheel, with the game chosen by either the losing team of the previous game or randomly. For what seems to be a large collection of minigames, four at a time is a very small selection. Compounding this is, after completing a minigame, it is often simply replaced on the wheel by its “sequel”, limiting the variety of a single session.
After playing the game for several hours in different sessions and modes, I also only encountered a handful of these minigames total. The most common of these being Squats, in which you need to squat only when your hosts say “squat” and not “squash”, and UFO, an incredibly tiring affair where you’re trying to contact aliens by moving to the beat. I also played Kitchen Timer frequently, which has you moving the controller to cook food at a precise time, as well as Color Shoot – the best minigame in the game. Color Shoot is only playable with smart devices, and requires you to snap a picture of a specific color in your surroundings within 20 seconds. It makes you think about your environment differently, and is a great use of smart device technology (hope you’re taking notes Jackbox). It’s especially fun when playing “online” as you never know what other players have around them.
Sadly that’s the only good minigame in the bunch I encountered. Others like Balloons (pump your balloon the biggest without popping it), Statues (literally just red light green light), and Hip Bump (exactly what it sounds like but without physical contact) are more so designed to make you look silly in front of your friends rather than being engaging in and of themselves. I was never a fan of this style of minigame even back in the Wii era, and it’s no better here.
The only other minigame I was able to play was Ninja, which has you either throwing ninja stars or deflecting them with a sword to sound cues. Out of a total of 17 unique games, not counting sequels, that’s still not a good selection after several hours and sessions with different people. Playing with friends online, we got Squats at least four times.You’re not allowed to play a minigame unless you’ve previously played it in Team Contest, so how much of the game you can access is entirely up to RNG.
I will say, the art style is pretty decent (outside of Horace). Menus look clean and colorful, while minigames themselves use a cardboard cutout style of real people with some nice touches of motion and lighting. It certainly feels low budget for a Nintendo game, but not in a terribly negative way.
David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.
Everybody 1-2-Switch! is just a very difficult game to enjoy. Most of the minigames are boring, and you have little say over how or if you can even engage with them. The game would be inoffensive if you had access to all minigames from the get go, and needing to unlock all of them individually is a baffling decision when combined with the random selection and weird preference towards UFO and Squats.