Continuing with the Wii theme and motion controls, we hit up 1-2-Switch. My impression is that it comes across as Wii Sports Club meets WarioWare: Smooth Moves. It is a face-to-face party game used to demonstrate the unique features of the Joy-Con controllers in different ways. I wanted to try out this game purely to experience the wonder of HD Rumble.
Unfortunately, I did not get to take part in the cow-milking competition or the safe-cracking mini-game, but instead I got to try my hand at Quick Draw and Ball Counting.
Quick Draw is a cowboy showdown, where participants hold their controllers down (by where a gun holster would be), and then upon hearing the audio cue, must aim their controller at their opponent like a gun and fire first. It was loud at the event, so maybe I couldn’t hear the cue. On the other hand, maybe I felt bad for turning down the Nintendo staffer’s chance to suit me up in giant colourful cowboy hat. Whatever the reason, I lost the shoot-out to some random old lady I was facing – all kinds showed up to experience the Switch that day.
More importantly, Ball Counting was my opportunity to see HD Rumble in action. It was… surreal, to put it bluntly. I would rotate the Joy-Con about in my hand, and through some Nintendo rumble magic, I swear I could feel small little metallic balls inside the controller rolling around, colliding with each other, and bouncing off the inner-sides of the controller. It was pretty neat. I correctly guessed how many balls were being simulated and defeated my archenemy: the random old woman who shot me earlier.
I know HD Rumble is not going to be featured in Breath of the Wild, but I can immediately see the benefit if implemented in later tiles. I could easily see it used to bring to life some sort of dowsing rod feature, gently pulling you towards a certain direction. Alternatively, outside of Zelda, maybe feeling your weapon getting lighter in a shooter game as you fire it and deplete ammunition. It is something that in the end will clearly be either a costly gimmick or a valid type of user feedback, depending on the developer. I don’t have much interest in 1-2-Switch, but HD Rumble is definitely very cool.
Feeling a little tuckered out from the motion, we moved on to try some retro goodness with Tantalus’ Switch port of the upcoming Sonic Mania. For this game, we had to play using a single Joy-Con in its horizontal configuration (ala the NES mode of the Wiimote). I hope there are other controller styles when this game launches, because the horizontal Joy-Con is not comfortable at all. It is too small for my hands and the control stick is awkwardly located smack-dab in the middle of the device. As everything with Nintendo is safety first, the wrist-strap rail connector was attached to the Joy-Con in this instance, and with it, the expanded shoulder buttons. They are much easier to hit, yes, but I also didn’t need to touch them for this game at all. All in all, I do hope other controller styles are available in the retail release of the game and that no game is forced to use the horizontal configuration alone.
Controller quirks aside (this is a Sega game after all), I am pretty pleased with the game itself. It looked and felt like Sonic of yesteryear (perhaps a little brighter and bluer, but still): the animation was right, the control was right, and the level-design did not feel out of place. On display were two stages: a remix of the classic Green Hill Zone (which my brother played) and Studiopolis Zone (which I played). Being a new and original zone, it didn’t have nostalgia goggles to fall back on, and took place high atop a skyscraper city decorated with studio and stage equipment. Again, the event was loud and I could not hear the audio much. Music is important to Sonic, but sadly I could not hear it.
Overall, that single level felt like it was from some lost Genesis game. It felt faithful to the series’ roots, and I left the demo hopeful that the series might return to its Genesis glory. The game appears to be in the right hands.
Next, we killed some time in line for the surprisingly popular Snipperclips. The line was long and they didn’t have enough stations to meet demand, so we had to forfeit our position to be able to make our assigned return time for Zelda. Oh well. The staffer did give us his elevator pitch on the game though before we left. It is a cute and cheap eShop collaborative puzzle title where you cut some paper characters into different shapes to solve puzzles. This is a Nintendo-developed title, but from my watching of others playing it, it has a light Scribblenauts vibe.