It’s hard to remember a game from a major publisher that faced the same headwinds as Everybody 1-2 Switch. In 2022, before its official announcement, Fanbyte reported that the game had done especially poorly in focus testing, leading Nintendo to consider the possibility of scrapping the project altogether. Then, this year, Nintendo surprise-announced that Everybody 1-2 Switch is in fact coming, and very soon at that, for a discount price of $30 USD (the original game cost $50). So I approached a recent hands-on session with a sort of morbid curiosity–would this be as bad as the report suggested, or had Nintendo sufficiently turned things around? Based on limited play time in a very large group dynamic, it seems like a decent party game–with one notable exception that, if indicative of more minigames like it, could really sour the experience.

We played a set of five minigames, showcasing the different styles of play. Some games could be played with Switch Joy-Cons, others with a mobile smart device, and some games could simultaneously support any combination of both. The latter options are how Everybody 1-2 Switch achieves the recently announced 100-player count for certain minigames. Our group for the preview was around 15 people–a much smaller number but it still got the point across that you can play these games with a big group.

The first game we played was Balloons, which used the Joy-Cons. We were divided randomly into teams–you can ask the game to pick them for you–and each one would be shown a brief flash of a balloon silhouette. You’d then have to move the controller like a bicycle pump to inflate your balloon, trying to match as closely as possible to the silhouette without going over. If you went even a single pump too far, it popped. But since everyone on the team was contributing to the pumping, you would need to communicate when to stop and whether the balloon could take one more pump–and if so, who should be the one to do it. It had the raucous, risky energy of Jenga, amplified by all the moves happening simultaneously. A round was done in less than a minute, and the winner was best out of five.

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