In March 2017, Nintendo released 1-2 Switch, one of the Switch’s two first-party titles to launch alongside the hardware. While it wasn’t exactly critical competition for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the 1v1 minigame competition was half-tech demo, half-casual party pleaser for the Wii crowd that did not materialize for the Wii U. In that respect, the game was a success — to the tune of 3.45 million copies — which produced a rather significant return on investment. It made sense for Nintendo to start working on a sequel — where that sequel is, however, is a much stranger story.
The information presented in this article is gathered from multiple sources with knowledge of the product in question. While the sources are presented in the published story as anonymous, we have verified their connections and are posting the information they gave us with utmost faith in their accuracy. As always, the video game industry is secretive and fickle. Things can change regardless of how accurate the information is right now. It’s also possible we’ll simply never know for sure. We have reached out to Nintendo for comment on this story but have not received a response by time of publishing.
Accounts differ on exactly when the sequel to 1-2 Switch started development. The title, which sources say settled on Everybody’s 1-2 Switch at one point, went through a few variations as the developers struggled with a core question: how exactly do you make a sequel to 1-2 Switch? The obvious answer was simply to add more minigames, as other iterative party titles had done, but they also wanted to release a title that didn’t render the first game moot and stop it from selling.
The inspiration instead came from Jackbox Games, developers of the Jackbox Party Pack series. Games like You Don’t Know Jack, Fibbage, Quiplash, and the like are popular at parties, inspiring the Everybody’s 1-2 Switch team to establish a game show-like theme with a host and more participants. As opposed to the original game’s setup of having two users with a joycon each going up against each other, Everybody’s 1-2 Switch had many more players at once. With the use of smartphones, the game could have lobbies as big as 100 players — thus, the name Everybody’s 1-2 Switch.
The idea, on paper, was solid. Nintendo EPD Group 4 designed a host for the minigames based on international appeal: a bipedal horse that looked like a man wearing a rubber horse mask. The game’s text simply referred to him as “Horse” because it sounded enough like the English word “Host” that it would come across in different languages. Minigames would ask players to physically move around the environment for things like Musical Chairs, or use their phone to play Bingo. There was even a game that resembled a virtual version of Spin the Bottle that involved saying something nice about another person.
It tested horribly.
When playtesting groups received the game, the feedback to the development team was brutal. The target audiences Nintendo was hoping to hit — families with children — found the games boring; many didn’t even want to play through entire rounds. In the Bingo example, one player would use the joycon to mime digging out a number before reading it off the TV screen — a process that playtesters reported as tedious.
The main mode of the game, the Team Battle Mode, pit at least two teams of players against each other in various minigames. This mode prominently featured Horse, who would give color commentary during the games. During the localization process, sources started calling the game “Horseshit” as shorthand.
It is important to note that this is not uncommon for a game: some projects just test badly and get quietly shelved or reworked. It happens far more often than people know and, under normal circumstances, this is likely what would have happened and no one would have been the wiser. But no one expected Everybody’s 1-2 Switch to test quite as badly as it did. Different trusted employees within Nintendo were raising alarms that the game released as-is would damage the company’s reputation as a great software developer.
Presuming that extra development would not be a problem, Nintendo went ahead with other publisher duties on the game, like printing out the cover art and placing it in the requisite cases for a retail release. Per sources, there’s still a large number of empty game boxes for the title just sitting and waiting for a game with no current release date.
It is unclear what Nintendo plans to do with the game now. Some sources have said Nintendo executives will not be swayed on the idea of a full $60 retail release for the game, citing how well the original 1-2 Switch did in similar circumstances with a poor critical consensus. Some others within the company have suggested making the game an add-on bonus to the higher tier of Nintendo Switch Online, similar to the Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Happy Home expansion and the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe booster pack, especially as the game is so dependent on online play for massive lobbies. The quality might matter less, sources argue, if no one is actually paying anything (extra) for it.
That question may already be decided internally by the time of writing, but the answer won’t be publicly known until Nintendo announces the game and its plans for it. It is entirely possible it will never announce the game, take its losses, and quietly shelve it. Our sources do not believe that will happen, though, as they suspect Nintendo will try to get the game out there one way or another.
Maybe there is still a best-case scenario. While everyone who described this game to us mentioned the quality was not there, they also noted the slightest hint of optimism that the team is doing their best to respond to feedback. If and when Everybody’s 1-2 Switch does release, perhaps it surmounts the poor internal reception and comes out to be a better title for it. Maybe, like Cinderella arriving at the ball, it just needs a little magic to get there.