Here is our review of the newest Switch party game on the block, Nintendo Switch Sports.
Back in 2006, the Nintendo Wii hit the market for the first time and the console quickly exploded in popularity. It was, after all, like nothing else that came before it, and the Wiimote controller remains to this day one of the most innovative pieces of kit we’ve ever gone hands-on with.
For its time, it was revolutionary, and both casual and hardcore players alike could easily get to grips with the motion control system. But what really sold people on the Nintendo Wii was its pack-in launch title, Wii Sports.
Wii Sports offered players 5 different sports to master, with some of the best local multiplayer of all time. The completely free game was so popular that it even spawned a successor, Wii Sports Resort, 3 years later.
Resort offered 12 different sports to players and went on to become the third best-selling Wii game ever. With that in mind, we’re surprised it took so long for Nintendo Switch Sports to arrive.
And now that it’s here, we’re surprised at how little it offers.
“Nintendo Switch Sports is a casual party game at heart, and that’s where it really shines.”
Looking at a brief overview of Nintendo Switch Sports, the game has only 6 sports available to play (with Golf also arriving in a post-launch update). And given the $39.99 price tag (or $49.99 for the physical edition), this seems like a steep step up from the free Wii Sports.
You’ll also need a Nintendo Switch Online membership to enjoy this game at its fullest, with the single-player content largely pushing you to play online against other users.
In the online mode, you can unlock new customization for your avatar, a custom character that’s visually quite the upgrade from the Miis we’re used to playing with.
However, the game is best played, as ever, in a local multiplayer setting. Nintendo Switch Sports is a casual party game at heart, and that’s where it really shines.
Bring it out when you’ve got friends over and you’re all-but-guaranteed a few laughs. Just remember to put those wrist-straps on!
As for the sports themselves, this time we’ve got Tennis, Bowling, Badminton, Volleyball, Football, and Chambara (Sword Fighting) to choose from. For players of the original Wii Sports, these will be mostly new additions, but there are a couple of fan favorites in there too.
Tennis in Nintendo Switch Sports feels exactly how we remember it, providing a real nostalgia blast. If you played the original Wii Sports, you already know how this one looks and feels.
But there’s something about Bowling that just feels off.
The mode has actually had a nice QOL adjustment, allowing multiple players to bowl at the same time, rather than waiting their turn. However, I can’t help but compare the Joycon to the Wiimote when launching balls down the lane and feel that the new controller comes up short.
What’s more, players are now discouraged from letting go of the trigger to release the ball at the end of their swing for some reason that’s beyond my comprehension. Countless times I’ve gone to let go of the trigger at the time that I’d release the ball.
Doing so will halt your ball before it hits the pins, bring it back to your hand, and instruct you not to release the trigger as you roll, no matter how natural it feels. And no, in case you were wondering, you can’t throw it behind you to make the NPCs jump in the air either.
Thankfully, the new Special mode does add a variety of obstacles to the game, which helps Switch’s take on Bowling at least bring something new to the experience.
“Football is an interesting addition, but it’s also the only one that requires two Joy-Cons per player. Unfortunately, it’s certainly not worth the extra expense”
Badminton is a nice option to have, though it is in many ways similar to tennis. Thankfully, the developers have differentiated the two, at least somewhat.
This sport is more complex than first meets the eye, and players can hit the shuttlecock with a decent degree of control. It’s a great sport in its own right, but it’s surprising to see Nintendo decide to add both this and Tennis to the game’s limited roster.
Chambara, on the other hand, is similar to Resort’s Swordplay, but it offers some decent gameplay improvements over its predecessor. Playing alongside a friend makes for a highly-entertaining metagame as the two of you psyche each other out with back-and-forth strikes and parries.
Swing into your opponent’s block and you’ll be stunned, an easy target for enemies. However, get a couple of quick hits in there and the other player often begins to panic, knowing that they’re only one strike away from being knocked from the stage.
There are even a few different sword options to choose from, each with its own playstyle, which adds some nice variety to the mode. And speaking of variety, next up come two completely new sports that have never before been featured in the franchise.
Football is an interesting addition, but it’s also the only one that requires two Joy-Cons per player. Unfortunately, it’s certainly not worth the extra expense.
In 1v1 it’s palatable, thanks in part to the smaller field. But in 4v4, it’s a boring slog of a game that’ll have you spending most of your time running slowly across the pitch.
In either mode, both movement and stamina regeneration is slow, and even the sprinting speed doesn’t help matters much. Players can navigate the pitch freely using an analog stick, and shoot by swinging their right Joy-Con, something that doesn’t feel super accurate as a whole.
“Nintendo definitely could have gone a lot further with the concept which certainly has a solid foundation.”
Diving headers are a high-risk, high-reward situation, and that’s definitely one aspect of the game that I enjoyed. On the other hand, the physical game’s included leg-strap allows you to play a penalty shootout-esque mode that feels a bit too much of an afterthought to justify the $10 higher price.
Volleyball is my personal favorite of all of Nintendo Switch Sports’ offerings. This game has players working together in teams of two to receive, set, and spike the ball.
You’re constantly moving between the motions, and timing is everything. Nail the perfect block and you’ll shut down your opponent’s spike, but their teammate could be quick enough to pick up the recovery.
Playing online, I actually felt a bond with my teammate on multiple occasions, particularly in close games. And when playing local multiplayer, spiking on someone you know is even more satisfying.
However, it’s worth noting that the game does require a little more knowledge to play than some of Switch Sports’ other offerings. For the super casual players, there’s a bit more to learn before diving in.
All in all, Nintendo Switch Sports does what we expected, offering a fun array of party games that would liven up many gatherings. However, Nintendo definitely could have gone a lot further with the concept which certainly has a solid foundation.
Adding Golf in a post-launch update sounds like a nice touch, but I’d definitely be a lot happier with my purchase if one or two extra sports were here at launch.
If you often find yourself in a local multiplayer setting, this game is likely to be worth the investment. But in many ways, I can’t help but think that its potential is left somewhat unrealized after years of waiting.