Nintendo Switch launch game 1-2-Switch has a mini-game where you use the Joy-Con controller to simulate milking a cow. Finally. A game that I, a born and raised Iowa farm kid, am uniquely qualified to preview. Dear reader, I actually know how to milk a cow. I know how to milk the hell out of it.
When milking a cow, you can't just grip tightly and turn your forearm into a paint shaker. You have to be calm. You have to be gentle. You start from the base, and squeeze as you pull. Begin by flexing your index finger, then your middle, then ring, then pinky. Your fingers need to be neat and tight, not spread apart. Consider that a free strategy guide for when the game comes out, because as it turns out, having real-life experience translates to Nintendo's party experience quite well.
In the game, you dig your fingers into the rubberized nubs covering the Joy-Con's SL and SR buttons, rhythmically pushing them in succession. First the top, then the bottom - all the while pulling downward in long, smooth strokes. You're not alone in this scenario, either; Nintendo wants you to have someone else in the room. For me, that mutual milker was fellow GamesRadar writer David Roberts. Our eyes locked as we vigorously tugged on invisible bovine nipples. This was a competition you see, and we only had seconds to see who could milk a cow better, faster, stronger.
I squeezed and stroked, feeling Nintendo's much-touted HD Rumble vibration feature shudder along the length of the Joy-Con. I was surprised at how accurate the sensation was. Rather than a generalized vibration, it felt as though the imaginary liquid was emptying out the bottom of my Joy-Con. It worked well in conjunction with the motion controls, giving the distinct sensation of tugging on ol' Bessy.
In short, by utilizing the Joy-Con's unique features and shape, Nintendo has created a disturbingly accurate recreation of many a farm kid's afternoon. I can only imagine what the R&D department went through to create this experience.
Back on the PAX South showfloor, I settle into a rhythm, and my mind wanders. The sound of vendors hawking their wares fades. The bright, flashing lights dim. The pungent smell of a three-day convention hall recedes. And for a moment, I'm back in Iowa. I hear cicadas. I smell the bales of alfalfa.
The buzz of the time limit snaps me back to reality. I look at the screen. I've won.
Expect 1-2-Switch to provide nights of awkward laughs and friendly fun. Don't expect to win against someone who knows their way around a Holstein heifer's udder.