1-2-Switch’s 5 was met with resounding shoulder shrugs of “meh…” but it didn’t have to be that way. Nintendo missed a golden oppcortunity to bundle one of their two big launch titles with the system itself – had they done so, people would have had a different experience with the eclectic collection of minigames.
On the surface, it makes sense economically to not give games away for free. But with the Switch already selling for a profit, Nintendo easily could have afforded to bite the bullet and let people experience what the Switch has to offer, right out of the box. And the game’s reception would have benefited greatly had they done this.
1-2-Switch’s biggest asset is that it communicates all of the Switch’s new capabilities – think of it like Wii Sports, which served as an excellent introduction to the Wii’s overall concept. 1-2-Switch seeks to do exactly the same thing, but its reception has been less than desirable; while Wii Sports received a 76 on Metacritic (and an 8.0 user score), 1-2-Switch sits at an abysmal 58 (and 4.8 from users). Ouch. So what’s the difference here? We could argue that Wii Sports was simply better, but think about that… was it really? Sure, it was fun, but the game experiences were not all that deep, and some were flat-out terrible.
Neither Wii Sports or 1-2-Switch were designed to be long-lasting experiences involving much gameplay depth; they’re gimmicks meant to dazzle and tempt you with the promise of future games that might take advantage of the tech. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The problem arose when Nintendo tried to elevate 1-2-Switch beyond that, and market it as a full game. Not only did it leave Switch owners with an empty console on day one, but it also ruined the game’s reception when people felt inevitable disappointment upon realizing they paid full, triple-A price for a product that falls somewhere between a game and a tech demo.
Instead of furthering the Switch’s message by bundling in 1-2-Switch, Nintendo blundered on a golden opportunity to fully display the potential of their system, and instead presented us with a subpar game that was bound to disappoint. Moves like this can cripple much-needed momentum, especially for a young console that has a lot to make up for after the Wii U’s flop. The Switch is off to a good start, but Nintendo needs to get out of its own way and avoid making mistakes like they did with 1-2-Switch.