It’s here. The successor to Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, Nintendo Switch Sports. Long gone are the classic Miis of the 3DS and Wii era, we now have Sportsmates who are more akin to Splatoon’s character design. Before even playing, you can already see and feel that this is a revamped and modernised sports collection for Nintendo’s console. This game is unlikely to replicate the nostalgia-driven love that many of us have for Wii Sports, but what I will say is that it does a very good job at replicating family- and friend-fueled fun and will be the ‘Wii Sports’ of a new generation – creating long-lasting memories knocking grandma into the water through Chambara!
Nintendo Switch Sports boasts six games at the time of launch, with golf, confirmed to come soon. The current roster of sports include football (soccer), tennis, badminton, volleyball, bowling, and Chambara (swordplay). For newcomers and first-time users, a tutorial is provided for all sports except tennis and bowling – which you can assume to be legacy sports of the franchise. The only tips or help you’ll get with these is through the ‘Tips and Tricks’ displayed at random on the loading screens.
Each sport offers different ways to play. For example, football can be played one on one or as a team match – using two Joy-Cons, one controls your movements while you swing the other in the direction you wish to kick. If you purchased the physical version, you’ll receive a leg strap, which is handy for a specific mode in football. Volleyball is two on two, however you can play with a CPU against a real person, or team up with a friend and play the CPU. Chambara offers three different types of swords: a standard sword, a charged one that allows you to store power for a harder hit, and dual-wielding swords. Bowling offers a more challenging version that turns the alley into an obstacle course – including ramps, blocks and moving floors. All of these sports can be played offline with a friend/family or online against (or with!) anyone across the world.
The biggest reason to invest in Nintendo Switch Sports is the co-op aspect. It brings back those amazing Wii Sports moments playing with a parent or sibling you usually wouldn’t have spent an afternoon playing and laughing with. My mum, for example, will forever be undefeated at boxing on Wii. Nintendo Switch Sports replicates that same feeling. I can guarantee that Nintendo Switch Sports will be integrated into my party-hosting evenings from now on – it’s just so much fun.
For those unable to play beside a friend or loved one, playing online is just as fun. Within the first weekend of the game’s release, I have had no difficulty matchmaking with someone online, and when you do, they will replace any empty slots with a CPU bot to ensure you get a game in. These bots are pretty weak at the game, so they’re easily identifiable, but it doesn’t harm your enjoyment. You can also communicate with others online via emoticons. You can unlock more as you play, but the base ones cover all feelings – a thumbs up, a clap, heart eyes, and crying. I have opted to use many of these sarcastically, which resulted in sarcastic usage back. I’m unsure if ScottyT was doing this in jest, but I was having a blast being destroyed by him at tennis, resulting in the crying and clapping emoticons being spammed!
Whether playing offline or online, you use your specific Sportsmate who will represent you. The look and feel of these characters are pretty simple at first, but you can unlock clothing and accessories through online play. You cannot unlock any cosmetics through offline play, and if you do not have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, you can only receive a smaller number of the cosmetics on offer for that given time period. From the looks of it, it seems that different clothing and accessory sets will be released every few weeks, so there will be plenty more to come – but for now, and judging the base sets alone, it’s very small. I have personally opted to use my Mii head until the Sportsmates customization allows me to add a more full beard.
Heading back to the gameplay, the gyroscopic controls are excellent and really do highlight the capabilities of the Nintendo Switch. The responsiveness of the Joy-Cons allows you to be very precise and purposeful in your actions. If you want to add a curve on your bowl, just make sure the Joy-Cons feel that and it’s done. I am especially impressed with the accuracy and responsiveness of Chambara – your movements are close to identical to what you are doing in real life. This means if you want to replicate some Jedi-esque movements, Nintendo Switch Sports will do a pretty good job at replicating that. I didn’t experience any issues with movements or actions going awry, which keeps the gameplay fun. When you lose, you know it’s your own fault.
Spocco Square is what we call home in Nintendo Switch Sports. It is an incredibly beautiful and well-made space, from the shopping-mall vibes to storage-crate bars and shops, it is a modern beauty. So beautiful in fact that my girlfriend blames the ‘distracting and gorgeous’ backgrounds when she loses to me. Given that so much attention to detail has been put into Spocco Square, it is a real shame that we are unable to interact with this space. It would have been great to incorporate a market square or shopping district where you could spend your hard-earned points on clothing and accessories, as opposed to the current randomised rewards.
Nintendo Switch Sports perfectly encapsulates what I feel the Nintendo Switch is for: great fun that all of the family can enjoy, no matter your age or skill level; anyone can master the basics in minutes. No sport ever overstays its welcome, which again promotes that perfect pick-up-and-play mentality many Switch games have.
Review: Nintendo Switch Sports (Nintendo Switch)
In its own right, Nintendo Switch Sports is fantastic, doing everything you hoped it would. Super-responsive controls, family-friendly fun, and a solid online and offline co-op system. However, when you look at what we could have got, and when you compare this to Wii Sports, has the game built on that foundation enough in the last 16 years? I don’t think it does. Again, it’s a great game and one that I will sink many hours into because it’s essentially Wii Sports on the Switch – but when you look at the bigger picture, there is endless potential on what Nintendo could, and probably should, have done. Golf has been confirmed, and I hope that there is more on Spocco Square’s horizon, as, with a few more sports and features, Nintendo Switch Sports could become THE must-own game on the system.