Before the launch of the Switch, Nintendo spent a lot of time marketing 1-2-Switch as its killer multiplayer game. On the surface, it seemed a good idea. The entirety of the game revolves around looking at your opponent and engaging in 1 of 28 minigames designed to show off some of the Switch's more gimmicky features—I'm looking at you, Ball Count. But ultimately, it falls very flat, to the point where I would consider it more of a tech demo than a game.
For what it's worth, there are a few legitimately fun minigames within 1-2-Switch, but there isn't enough for me to keep coming back to. It certainly isn't the killer game that Nintendo was hoping it would be. In designing 1-2-Switch, Nintendo put together a game that shows off the Switch's gimmicks, but what it really needed to do was prove that these concepts were worthwhile. Though 1-2-Switch was a massive failure in that regard, there is a game that accomplishes this with flying colors. This title is none other than indie darling Snipperclips: Cut it Out, Together!
If you haven't heard about Snipperclips, I'm not surprised. It's a puzzle game revolving around two characters made of paper. You twist and turn and cut shapes out of each other in order to complete each level's objective. There wasn't a lot of marketing for it prior to launch, which isn't shocking as it's a $20 indie title. Even post-launch, despite a few outlets giving it some praise, I haven't seen a lot of buzz about it. So how can an indie title stand so far above a Nintendo game?
There's a fundamental difference in what each game sets out to do. 1-2-Switch is a mediocre game designed to display a bunch of gimmicks. Every minigame in 1-2-Switch is designed around one of the Switch's many concepts. HD rumble, an IR camera, motion controls...all of these are explored to some degree in 1-2-Switch. The games are simple, allowing anyone to pick it up without much hassle. Unfortunately, this also means most aren't that great, and even those that are lose their luster quickly. I liken this approach to that of a shotgun—short-range and not very accurate.
On the other hand, Snipperclips is a sniper. It's a great game designed to feature just one core Switch concept: the ability to use each Joy-Con as its own controller. Instead of trying to shove 28 different games down your throat, Snipperclips gives you just one goal, but the freedom to get there however you want. Every level has a different objective, though in the end, you still have to cut your way to victory just like in all of the others. Even after completing the campaign thirty times, I'm still as in love with Snipperclips as I was when I first got it.
There's also a huge design difference between the two. The interface of 1-2-Switch is pretty poorly designed. There's nothing in-game that expresses how to navigate it. Upon booting up the game for the first time, you are greeted with a small selection of just six games, with no indication that other games even exist. There isn't even a menu! You navigate the selection by rotating the game slides left and right like a slideshow. It's extremely annoying and completely unnecessary.
In comparison, Snipperclips' design is intuitive and focused on promoting the fun of the title. The menus are clean and easy to navigate. The tutorial you're forced into on a clean save is short, but it's simple enough to explain the essential mechanics. The levels are unique, and each world introduces a new concept to use while completing them. Even though Snipperclips is designed as a co-op game, the developers threw in a solo mode and did a damn fine job of bringing the co-op feel into it without sacrificing anything.
It's quite sad that Nintendo's own baby, its killer multiplayer title, has been drastically shown up by a $20 indie game. But this shows that Nintendo needs to prove their gimmicks, not just display them. Snipperclips works because it takes the Joy-Con concept and forms a cohesive game around it. 1-2-Switch, on the other hand, is in itself a gimmicky title that's nothing more than a tech demo. It focuses on tiny, mostly lackluster segments designed to showcase some of the Switch's more trivial aspects, but this ultimately does more harm than good. If Nintendo wants to keep the success of the Switch alive, they need to learn from this experience and make effective use of its gimmicks going forward.