Many of us who grew up with a Nintendo Wii probably have nostalgic memories of Wii Sports and its sequel Wii Sports Resort. It led the way for the idea that games were for everyone, with even grandparents and grandchildren facing off in bowling, boxing, and more. With a lot to live up to is its sequel, Nintendo Switch Sports.
Nintendo Switch Sports is essentially six games in one, with some of the games having multiple modes. Simply put, it’s all about picking up a joycon or two and swinging your racket, sword, or whatever else to victory. Much like its predecessor, it’s typically not a strenuous workout, but it’ll certainly keep you active!
It’s fun for the entire family too if you play locally. It lets 1-4 players play offline, though this will depend on the game. Online is where the challenge is though, with options to play against the world and another to play with a friend. There’s even a pro league to unlock after enough wins online.
In terms of what sports are included, you can find Volleyball, Badminton, Tennis, Bowling, Chambara, and Football.
Volleyball is an interesting one. It essentially works in four stages; hitting the ball up, pushing it further into the air, jumping and spiking, and then blocking a return. I will admit that it took me a while to get used to as each stage requires a different motion. Fortunately, it brings up a notice of what stage you’re on – this helps, especially at first. The different motions involved and having to pay attention in each stage kept me engaged well.
Much like the stages, I found the timing a little difficult to get. It’s fairly relaxed though and lets you know if it’s a little early or late with a pop-up on the screen.
Badminton and Tennis
I’m putting badminton and tennis together as they play in a very similar way. I would’ve preferred another sport to be included in Nintendo Switch Sports, rather than both of these. Not that they’re bad at all – just that there’s not much point in having both.
Essentially it’s just swinging the joycon in the direction you prefer with the right timing. Tennis has you controlling both players in a doubles match, while badminton just has one player. As the game gets further in, I did feel that it kept getting faster and issues like falling over happened more.
It’s nothing revolutionary, but it’s simple and it’s a fun way to play something mildly active.
Bowling is a rather simple game mechanically. Move side to side to select a position and then choose an angle. After that, it’s just a case of swinging to throw the ball with the power and spin you want.
I do like what Nintendo Switch Sports has done to spice up this simple formula. Online play is an elimination mode where the highest scoring players keep advancing through stages. The downside of this is having to wait for other online players to finish their turns. Offline play has standard bowling and a special mode with obstacles on the lane.
In the end, this is a spin on one of the more popular Wii Sports games and I imagine it will be just as popular. It’s casual but captures the competition of bowling, with a bit of extra excitement.
Chambara is where things get a little more active. It’s sword fighting, in a 1 versus 1 battle to knock the opponent back until they fall off a platform. It’s basically Swordplay from Wii Sports Resort for those who played, but with some extra features that improve it significantly.
There are three options when you play Chambara; Sword, Charge Sword, and Twin Swords. They each act and feel differently in terms of attacking, guarding, and special attacks. Most notable are the twin swords which are great for tricking opponents.
Unlike a lot of the other sports where it’s slow-paced and reactionary, Chambara feels more direct about beating the opponent. I found myself watching them, misleading them, learning their patterns, and using those to lead me to victory. Noticing that someone always guards by holding their sword vertically first and next horizontally to slip past their guard or figuring out their attack patterns kept it really interesting.
Football (or soccer for the Americans) is an odd exception in Nintendo Switch Sports. It’s actually the only sport where you can choose where you move. It’s a 4 versus 4 match where you need to run, jump and dash with one joycon, while the other you need to swing in the direction you want to kick. While still a fairly simple game, some interesting mechanics are involved such as a stamina gauge to run faster and do a diving header.
Even as someone who doesn’t typically enjoy football games, I had a lot of fun with this. There was a lot of back and forth in most matches I played, with real excitement and sometimes some great teamwork trying to defend our own goal. A golden ball can appear too for double points, which ramps up the tension even more.
If you buy a physical copy of Nintendo Switch Sports it comes with the Leg Strap accessory. This currently can’t be used for the main football mode, but it’s due to be added in the summer of 2022. It can however be used for an offline-only mode – Shoot Out.
Shoot Out mode is fairly basic. It’s essentially just kicking with the correct timing as the ball is thrown to you. It’s nice to be able to use kicking as a control method, though be careful not to kick your desk like I did mine – the safety warnings are there for a reason!
I can’t say the mode itself is particularly interesting, but it’s something different and nice as an extra.
While I’ve mostly been impressed with Nintendo Switch Sports, there are a few letdowns.
The most obvious is the lack of Boxing. It always seemed to be one of the more popular sports in its predecessor. But I won’t hold it against Nintendo Switch Sports too much, as the inclusion of Chambara might be why. In the end, both are ‘fighting’ sports. As mentioned already, the similar feel of badminton and tennis is another questionable choice of sports.
Playing online is generally great and the near-unlimited series of opponents and a pro league for more serious competition is great. I have occasionally found myself waiting up to a minute to find a match though and then it can take a while to load. This can be mitigated somewhat by choosing up to three sports to play one at random.
Make a Mii
Nintendo Switch Sports has customization, which is a bit of a mixed bag. You can play as a Mii or instead choose a more modern-looking character and earn clothes, hairstyles, eye colors, accessories, stickers, equipment, and titles. A new collection of cosmetics is added each week and you can choose from one of the several collections currently available to receive a random item.
This is great to earn rewards and the feeling of progression is always there. The way that points work, an item will be earned at least once every four matches, but more often if doing well. Winning adds a multiplier, as does ranking well or getting certain achievements in a match.
The downside is that you start with almost nothing. You can choose from one outfit in a few different colors, six hairstyles, and only a few other choices. It wasn’t really possible to make something that I felt represented me. And even when earning collectibles, depending on luck the lack of avatar customization might continue. For example, I kept hitting equipment, stamps, and such. It’s also possible to hit customization items you don’t want – that pink bow I won isn’t my style for one.
Essentially I like it as a feature and they will be introducing new items to earn weekly, but it does feel they’ve been quite stingy with starting customization. This is compounded even more by another issue; you can only earn cosmetics by playing online.
Nintendo Switch Sports isn’t perfect, but there are certainly improvements to the original formula such as the inclusion of online and the addition of features or modes in some sports. While I doubt it will have the same cultural impact on gaming, it’s certainly still worth picking it up to play with the family or to keep yourself active by challenging others online.
NINTENDO SWITCH SPORTS IS RECOMMENDED
Many thanks go to Nintendo for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.