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1-2 Switch is Nintendo's attempt to recapture Wii's golden era

Milking it?

There's a long list of reasons why Wii was such a success but, at launch, you only needed two words: Wii Sports. A decade on and two consoles later, 1-2 Switch feels like a fresh pitch for the same audience.

Even the lifestyle photos look familiar.

Wii Sports was the perfect launch title. An addictive demonstration of the Wii's potential, its simple gameplay and intuitive controls could be explained in a single lifestyle photo. It unlocked an audience which propelled Wii to become a household name. Oh, and it also came packed in the console's box.

Nintendo's mainstream audience eventually lost interest in Wii during the console's latter years and could not be coaxed back by Wii U. But it's an audience the company now needs again for Nintendo Switch - and, well, the company is trying.

A party game designed to show off Switch's motion control capabilities, 1-2 Switch makes heavy use of the console's Joy-Con controllers - and it shows them off for the technological marvels they are. Each fits snugly within the palm of your hand, the same size as a Wii Nunchuck, but stuffed with gyro sensors and other technology.

Less Wii Sports or Nintendo Land and more Wii Play or WarioWare, 1-2 Switch features 20-odd mini-games (that we've seen), each of which lasts an average of 30 seconds per round.

Watch on YouTube

How do you milk a cow? Quite poorly, if you're anything like me, but 1-2 Switch requires only the vague gestures you would expect. How about drawing a gun in a Wild West shootout? It turns out I'm alright at that (better than our guides editor Matt Reynolds, at least). Again, no real instructions required.

Wii families are back.

1-2 Switch is so confident in its intuitiveness that it asks you time and again to stop looking at the screen. Instead, the game asks you to stare into the sore, cold eyes of your opponent (sorry Matt). The results of winning - or losing - play out better in real life than on any TV.

And you're standing up. You're interacting with others. The Wii's heritage is clear - even in games which require defter use of the motion controls. The delightfully-named Ball Count requires you to tilt your Joy-Con back and forth to 'feel' how many balls roll around inside. There aren't any balls, of course, but the Joy-Con's "HD rumble" manages a decent simulation. Likewise, the job of cracking open a safe is performed by detecting changes in rumble felt while rotating a lock.

Then there are the experiences which barely seem like games - Just Dance-esque tech demos where you and a pal have to quickly strike a pose, or copy a move. Other activities see you grabbing the Joy-Con like you're answering the phone, using the controller as a magic wand to cast a spell, to punch, to shave, or to play musical statues.

It's gaming at its most broad, at its most accessible - and if some of these mini-game ideas sound familiar, then you'd be right. 1-2 Switch's Samurai Training mini-game, for example, is a direct copy of something from WarioWare where you have to catch a sword between your hands at exactly the right time - albeit now using motion controls, and two players.

Watch on YouTube

Each little experience is fun with a friend, but achingly brief. Demonstration staff at the Switch event were costumed and divided between activities - and enthusiastic in getting everyone in attendance to drop some of their inhibitions, put on a silly hat and have a go. It's easy to see how 1-2 Switch could be played with a group of friends for half an hour or so - but beyond that, it's difficult to detect lasting appeal.

And it's here the realities of the game set in. As far as we've seen, 1-2 Switch does not offer the opportunities for extended play possible with Wii Sports. (The number of evenings I spent during university with housemates, a crate of beer and Wii Golf has faded somewhat mercifully into oblivion.)

Access to the game will also be limited to those who go out and seek a copy - unlike Wii Sports, it is not included with the console - and at £40 RRP (£35 currently on Amazon UK) this is a significant hurdle for a game more akin to Wii Play, which was bundled with a Wii Remote. You could argue, perhaps, that Switch's two included Joy-Con mean 1-2 Switch does not need to be packed in with any other hardware - as Wii Play was. Switch is multiplayer out of the box already. But without 1-2 Switch to play, Nintendo has missed an opportunity.