PLOT Look your opponent straight in the eye as you face off in 28 games.
RATED E 10+ for ages 10 and older
DETAILS Nintendo Switch; $49.99
BOTTOM LINE Odd, and oddly appealing.
We don’t so much play video games as we allow them to inhabit us for a few hours or days. And it’s hard to find a better explanation than that when it comes to 1-2-Switch, as you squeeze and move a small controller the size of half a Kit Kat bar up and down through the air while staring, not at a screen, but into the eyes of a friend doing the same thing on his side of the sofa. It’s a race to see who, in 30 seconds, can fill the most glasses with milk from a cow’s udder.
Twenty eight of these brief and bewildering oddities await players in 1-2-Switch, designed for the Nintendo Switch console, and all feel like they might have been interstitial distractions lifted from some unidentified open world game in which farmers, wizards, joggers and dancing gorillas might rub shoulders.
The game builds on the simple genius of Nintendo’s earlier motion control games — Wii Sports, Wii Play and Wii Fit — by packing many different features into its Joy-Con controller. The gyroscope function is used in a game that has you uncoiling a long chain from around a treasure chest. More sensitive rumble motors help simulate the sensation of marbles rolling around in a wooden box. And an infrared camera that can detect shapes and motions is used for a game in which you hold the controller’s camera a few inches away from your face and quickly open and close your mouth while pretending to eat six or eight deli sandwiches before the timer runs out.
Nintendo producer Kouichi Kawamoto described 1-2-Switch as having been motivated by the hope that players would find more of an animating spirit by looking at one another rather than focusing on a screen. Whether you’ll feel a special energy with your playing partner is up to you.