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Nintendo’s Everybody 1-2 Switch Feels Like 100-Player Organized Chaos

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Family video games with two people are fun. With four people? Sometimes chaotic. With a hundred people? Who the heck knows. Nintendo’s Everybody 1-2 Switch, available Friday, is going for the extreme end of the massively multiplayer local spectrum with a game that could be played with a hundred people at once in the same room. All you need is a single TV-dockable Nintendo Switch… and a bunch of controllers or phones.

My mind jumps to weddings or bar/bat mitzvahs or cruise ships. Nintendo’s game leans on the magic of crowds to build on some new fun ideas. Also, this is the long-awaited sequel (for me) to Nintendo’s weirdest launch game for the Switch back in 2017, 1-2 Switch.

Read more: Best Multiplayer Switch Family Games

I wasn’t sure about 1-2 Switch back then: the two-player game sometimes felt like it didn’t have enough ideas, but the whimsical minigames it did have (like a race to shave your face, eat imaginary hot dogs or milk a cow) were wild. It’s grown into a family cult favorite around my house.

Everybody 1-2 Switch pushes the envelope a lot further by adding compatibility with phones. The Switch supports up to eight Joy-Cons connected, but beyond that Nintendo is authorizing “smart devices,” which could be phones or tablets, to connect via QR code and become touch-enabled game controllers, too.

In a play session ahead of the game’s release, my CNET colleague Bridget Carey and I got into some of the weird games and had some fun.

Some of the game’s offerings are Joy-Con-only; some can be played with Joy-Cons or phones; and some, surprisingly, are phone-only. We tried a game where you had to pump the controllers up and down to try to inflate a balloon, but not have it pop (I won). Another game absurdly had us hip-bumping to knock another person’s bunny character off the screen, holding the Joy-Cons behind our backs (I lost).

playing Everybody 1-2 Switch, two people hold their controllers behind their backs

Me trying to bump my hips in one of the games.

Numi Prasarn/CNET

Another clever and challenging phone-based game asked us all to run around the room, trying to photograph a certain shade of color and see how accurately our picture could match. We also played a quiz game where around 20 of us had to quickly answer simple two-answer, multiple-choice questions on our phones by tapping as fast as we could. The leaderboards showed how close or far we got. One fun twist: The quizzes can be customized, so we answered questions about the room we were in (and Nintendo trivia), but you could make your own special home version or something for a party.

There’s an element of pure randomness here: Depending on your phone, the color might look different on your display, and the camera might capture colors differently. There’s also questions of ping: So many phones and controllers on the same Wi-Fi network is bound to result in some people drawing a short straw. Jackbox Games offerings are more forgiving, allowing a time delay to fairly register answers or drawings. But the chaos of the group games still seemed fun in my short play test (about an hour, with breaks).

Everybody 1-2 Switch quiz game on a phone

Phone screens can turn into interactive games in Everybody 1-2 Switch, like this quiz game we played.

Numi Prasarn/CNET

One change I also saw in the way we played Everybody 1-2 Switch is how it’s designed for docked TV play. The first 1-2 Switch was something different, where lots of games actually encouraged eye contact with players without looking at the Switch screen. Large party games make sense in front of a big TV. And I have no idea what sorts of mad experiences 100-player games will result in. That’s Everybody 1-2 Switch’s biggest unique advantage — no other Switch game even comes close to that level of simultaneous local play.

The game’s price is also a big draw. At $30 (¬£25, AU$50), it’s one of the least expensive first-party Nintendo games around. I don’t know how much fun extended sessions will be, or whether any of it’s ultimately better than what Mario Party, or Jackbox Party Pack games, offers. But, if you’re planning a big summer party and want to have some fun on the Switch, this definitely looks like the game to buy. At around the cost of a board game, it’s not too much of an investment, either.

It’s also a great reminder that large-scale phone-based local party games should and could be more of a widespread thing than they are right now.



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