Nintendo Switch Sports – Game Review


Nintendo Switch Sports

Nintendo has now decided that just at the point where the switch outsells the Nintendo Wii in lifetime sales, it’s time to resurrect the Wii Sports brand for its fourth entry, renaming it Nintendo Switch Sports to of course reflect the console that it is on. Nintendo Switch Sports now being the fourth entry in the series comes with a few returning sports as well as a few new ones, and uses the gyro controls in the joy cons to reflect the movement of the characters in the game, similar to how the Wiimotes used their motion controls.

If you were a fan of those games you might end up realising that this is within that collection of games. The Miis that were so characterised with Wii Sports aren’t on the box cover despite the fact that they are available to be part of your character in the game, which I think was a bit of a mistake.. And it’s not entirely obvious from small factors like the look of the logo. Personally, I think that this game is a genius idea considering how many people own Switches now. Resurrecting one of your best ever selling games from what is now your bestselling system is great, but whether it will translate to sales is another matter. I actually think this game would have sold mega bucks if it was released much earlier when we were all still locked in our houses, similar to how Animal Crossing: New Horizons being released in lockdown gave us all something that we felt was missing in our lives at the time.

But how does the game actually stand out? Especially considering how the Switch doesn’t have a sensor bar similar to the Wii. So, as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, gyro controls can be a bit temperamental at the best of times, the best implementation of them so far has been in Splatoon 2, and a game like this can really live or die based on the controls.

PROS

  • Sport Selection

The game has launched with 6 sports, though as we learnt in the February Nintendo Direct, there is a plan to add a seventh sport in Autumn, where the series will add golf into the mix. Which I’m certain will please many people who enjoyed Wii Sports Golf.

The six sports in question so far include the returning sports of bowling, tennis, and Chambara (the sword fighting game from Wii Sports Resort) as well as new sports of football, volleyball, and badminton. One of the most popular, boxing, is still not here. Though, apparently data miners have found code for dodgeball within the game so keep an eye out for that one to perhaps be released later. I wouldn’t rule out that more sports past golf would be added into the game.

Once you’ve done your character creation, you can play almost any sport you want at any time, both as single player and online multiplayer. Sports have varying quality. Football comes with two options: Shootout mode, which requires a leg strap with comes with the physical version of the game, (though if you’ve purchased this game digitally, it will work with the leg strap that comes with Ringfit Adventure) I tried out both modes and I will say that football works quite well, and I think shootout mode is the most realistic because it’s the only one where you use your feet. That being said, it was very fun to do and the only complaint I have is that the camera is a bit funny at times, it actually reminded me of Rocket League, only without the cars. I think some people are having trouble getting to grips with it. I was in a game where we won 4-0, and we only won that way because 2 of the goals were own goals by the opposite team, including one where I felt that they clearly had a camera or control issue.

Badminton is actually a lot of fun, and it’s a good 1v1 sport, since tennis requires it to be doubles matches (you can play 1v1 for that, but you have to control 2 characters at the same time). Badminton does control very similar to tennis, but the differences are noticeable, and it definitely feels like a more intense game than tennis does at times.

Chambara is my least favourite, I’ll go into more details in the controls section of this review, but it felt like the one that was most based on luck than anything else, and I kind of wish that the team brought back boxing instead of Chambara. I think it was for the more family-friendly image, but I’ve seen news footage of pensioners playing the boxing game on Wii Sports, it definitely doesn’t come with any serious implications of violence.

Tennis and bowling are very similar if you’ve played them on Wii Sports. Tennis definitely is a lot of fun and functions very well, and bowling is genius! There are so many great ideas that they’ve had with it. If you’re playing offline you can create bowling obstacle courses to test your accuracy and it acts like a bowling equivalent of mini golf. The online version is where I had the most fun with this; the game essentially becomes a kind of battle royale mode with the lowest scoring players being eliminated after three rounds. I haven’t won a game of bowling to date, but I’ve come in the top 3 a few times and it’s been very good fun, it’s really been the most fun I’ve had in the entire game.

One of the newer games is volleyball, and it’s another 2v2 game, though, unlike tennis where you can turn it into a 1v1, this game requires at least 4 characters to be in it, so you will have to have an AI partner if you’re not playing online. This game definitely requires the most of a learning curve since you’ll be doing one of four things: serving or bouncing the ball, blocking a player from getting the ball over, passing the ball over to the spiker or spiking the ball in hopes that it will get past the other team’s defences. Luckily the game knows that there is a curve to this and will give you alerts about what you’re doing at that point in time. If you’re playing this game offline with three other people, make sure you have a big room! I don’t really have a big living room, so I insisted we didn’t play volleyball at my place.

Overall, it’s a very good selection, and you definitely can get into any sport you like at any time. After a while, you will be getting some new options. I don’t think there’s many weaknesses in the sport options, the only one I didn’t personally like was Chambara, but I do think that that one will have its fans for whatever reason.

  • Multiplayer functionality

Now the game functions quite well, I only really had issues when I ran into any lag or disconnect with my internet. I have heard some people say they have had lag in the game, but I haven’t really noticed it myself.

The beginning of the game will take you to Spoco Square which really doesn’t have as much personality as Woohoo Island from Wii Sports Resort.. After you’ve done one of each of the sports, you can pick 3 sports at a time and it will find you an online game available to launch you into. Or, you can pick 1 or 2 games to increase your chances of playing a particular sport. Or, you can insist on one sport in particular, while it may take you a bit longer it will get you into that game. How well that will do with time when the player base thins out a bit, we will have to see.

Online multiplayer functions fine and split-screen multiplayer functions well, I wouldn’t say that there are any major malfunctions at this time. Though I have heard some people have had issues with the online multiplayer which has of course affected reviews, because Nintendo didn’t allow early reviewers to play online until the day of reviews, which means that a lot of reviews couldn’t be done until after the release date so that players could experience all of the game’s functions.

My report of it was quite good, though I think it was a dumb move on Nintendo’s part to restrict access to reviewers.

MIXED

  • Gyro controls

Let’s get down to the control business, because like I said earlier, games like this live or die on the controls. For the most part, they’re really good, and they function pretty well. There are times where it feels like I’m just flailing the control instead of trying anything with accuracy, for example in tennis, it felt like no matter what way I was swinging it that the game picked where the ball would go. For the most part, it still functions pretty well and controls fine. Football feels pretty weird considering you use both joy cons and at the moment unless you’re playing shootout mode, neither one of them is on your leg?

Bowling, volleyball, and badminton didn’t give me any control issues. Chambara is where I felt a bit off. For one thing, you have to re-centre the gyro pointer on the television each round. While the controls do seem to replicate your arm movements in many ways, I think that it contributes to the fact that when you swing it it seems to be not as effective. It almost feels like random luck for who swings and who blocks. It’s one of the reasons why I really didn’t play much chambara. I didn’t really have much of an issue with controls, but there are a few little issues I had that kept me from completely seeing the positives.

  • Live service features without live service microtransactions

This ties into the character creation. You can basically get lots of cosmetics such as words you can use for your character’s nickname, makeup, glasses, outfits, different bowling balls or tennis rackets, etc. The good news is, there are no micro transactions! You have to earn these by doing well in sports and you get multipliers added to your scores while receiving a free gift, depending on how well you do in the sport. For example, you can get an amplifier in bowling if you get a strike or if you make it to the top 3 or top 5. The thing is though, the gift isn’t always the one you want, it’s random- and they all have expiry dates. For example, there was one that had 12 days from launch before it was gone. There is a good reason for you to go for these, they do come with completion bonuses, but I do think it feels like artificial incentive and the fact that it’s random also kind of annoys me.. Again, it feels like a live service game without it being completely live service. It’s coming with a lot of benefits but also comes with some negatives.

The whole thing feels kind of confusing. Just before I finished writing this review, they added a new football heavy selection, but it didn’t come with the exact time that it’s going to expire unlike the starter set and the cute set that came with launch. I haven’t been playing it for an incredibly long amount of time, so I don’t even know how often these are going to rotate. But it is what it is, so we’ll have to see as time goes on..

  • Character creator

I don’t really dislike the character creation you get in Switch Sports as the default option. I know people said that they look a bit uncanny, but as a whole I thought it was alright. What I don’t like about it is that there’s not as many options when released compared to creating a Mii. You can transfer your Mii to be your character, but that comes with its own issues. Mainly, you’re limited to how much customisation you can actually do- you can’t put glasses or a hat on your Mii, you’re limited to some equipment in the sports and the outfit your Mii wears. But as a whole, I would say that they look fine but I wish there were more options when you start the game. I think a lot of people are embracing them as most people that I play with online use them over the Miis.

CONS

  • Playing portable

The Switch is a hybrid device. Its biggest selling point is the fact that you can take it on the go with you and you can plug it into a television also. So with that in mind, I took the game with me a couple of times when I was leaving the house. I took it with me when I was in the office as well as a Magic the Gathering night in my hometown. And man, is this game impossible to play portably! Not in a literal sense, but it’s way more difficult than is practical. For one thing, you have to detach the joycons. So, if you’re using an original model switch rather than an OLED switch, you haven’t got a better kickstand. Even though I was using an OLED, the screen felt too small. I had to often lean in to see where I was aiming in bowling and I sometimes even had trouble seeing the ball when I was playing games like tennis.

What’s more, it’s not great if you’re not in a big environment. I actually nearly hit my friend when I was playing tennis! It also probably looks a lot weirder to spectators. I think that Nintendo knows this because all of the marketing for Switch Sports at the minute shows people playing it on the television and all of the warning signs in-game tells you to keep the joy cons attached with the harnesses so you don’t fling them into the television. But all of those warnings show television screens! Nintendo really wants you to play this docked.

I never really enjoyed playing this game portably much, no matter how big the environment I had was. I think it’s kind of lacking in that sense, they should have put a bit more thought into the fact that this was coming to a portable system.

  • No Switch Lite accessibility

All of the games require joycon detachment, and after the Switch Lite came out and people complained that some games required the purchase of extra joycons, I thought that Nintendo would instruct their developers to avoid games that required a purchase of extra joycons. But obviously that’s not the case with this game. But that being said, that means that if you have a Switch Lite, you’ll need joycons and a stand to use it, since the Lite is entirely portable. I think that it’s rather telling that the adverts I saw for this game, the Lite didn’t appear at the end of the advert- it just showed the regular Switch and the Switch OLED. Nintendo really wants to discourage Lite owners from getting this game, but the Lite is where a lot of people have purchased Switches because they will be playing their games portably and not playing on the television. I think they’ve really limited their player base by not accounting for players on that system.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Nintendo Switch Sports is a really good casual game, I actually had a really good time with it. I think its biggest flaws are that it’s not very portable-friendly and the gyro controls do have a couple of issues particularly in Chambara. But as a whole, it functions really well. Whoever thought of turning bowling into a 16 person battle royale is a genius!

While I don’t think it’s going to have the same impact that Wii Sports did, I think that Nintendo could turn this into an excellent live service game and just keep adding new sports to it. Especially if Nintendo’s marketing plan is for the Switch to go on for a lot longer than any of us anticipated.

I think this is a good game for your downtime, but I’m not sure how much you’re going to get out of it when much bigger titles come out. I’m not sure how much I’m personally going to get out of it when I’m trying to complete Xenoblade Chronicles 3.

As a nice, fun, casual game, I think it’s just as good as some of the Wii Sports games, as I think it’s a good game alongside 51 Worldwide Classics.

FINAL SCORE: 8.3/10

Calvin
Nerd Consultant

And now Elliot’s review

I don’t think that anyone, not even Nintendo themselves, were expecting Wii Sports to be as much of a breakout success as it ended up being. What started off as a tech demo for the Wii Remote ended up being one of the most beloved games in Nintendo history and led to it being one of the most sold games of all time. A number of fans have been wanting a follow up to the game for years (some jokingly) which we surprisingly got when Nintendo announced Nintendo Switch Sports which released on 29th April 2022.

Seeing as there’s no story to speak of, we’ll just move straight onto the presentation which is good in some parts, and bad in others. For starters, you’ve probably already noticed that the designs for your avatars have been criticised since the game was first announced, criticisms that I agree with. They are very unappealing, looking more like something you’d find in a mobile game or one of those third party games you’d find on the Wii, they just seem lifeless and don’t stand out at all. Luckily you can use Mii’s if you want, unfortunately however if you do you will be more restricted on customizability options as opposed to the game’s own models. Outside of that though, I do like the courts that you play in, they’re very simple and follow the game’s theme perfectly (even if that theme is just the Nintendo Switch Sports logo and a lot of blue). As for the music, it’s fine… just fine. It mostly just serves the purpose of background noise and is ultimately not that memorable, but it’s not to the point where I find myself disliking it. 

Nintendo Switch Sports plays pretty much the same way as Wii Sports does. You play from a select number of sports with a heavy reliance on motion controls. At time of writing, you have a selection of six games to pick from:Tennis, Bowling, Badminton, Chambara, Volleyball and Football, though Nintendo have said that they are adding more games in the future. While other people would complain that they released the game unfinished, I would disagree, the game never feels like it’s missing out on content and not once did it feel like it was lacking in any way. 

Every time you play a game online you’ll receive points depending on how you played, mostly for long rallies, if you win a game and things like that. When you reach one hundred points, you’ll be able to receive an item at random from a small selection of cards. These cards will only be around for about a week, however they are always swapped out for another and you’re given a decent number of points after each match so you’ll have plenty of chances and time to be able to get all the items. 

Now from here on this review is going to be structured a little differently from my normal reviews. Rather going with my usual format, I’m instead going to split each sport into their own sections and talk about them individually. So without further ado…

Tennis

Tennis is, for the most part, the same as it is in Wii Sports, the entire goal of the game is to swing the Switch Joy-Con to hit the ball and the character moves automatically towards it. It’s very simple, but a lot of fun. Unlike some other sports in this game, the play rules are different when you play offline as opposed to when you play online, primarily in the points system. When you play offline, the points work just like they would in a normal game of tennis, with you getting to decide the number of games you play, when you play online however, you only play one match and the winner is whoever scores up to seven first. Unfortunately though, I have to admit that tennis is better in Wii Sports. First of all, I said that your character moves automatically to the ball and darts towards it when you swing, or at least it should. While it does most of the time and does it pretty well actually, sometimes the character won’t dart towards the ball when I swing and will just stand completely still and swing from there, it luckily doesn’t happen too often but it’s annoying when it does. Another issue is that the game decided to attempt to add a bit more depth into the game by making it possible to mess up slightly on the swing, giving your opponent a chance to do a powerful strike at the ball. It’s not the mechanic that I struggle with, I actually welcome it, the main problem that I have with it is that I’ll have messed up the swing and have no idea why. The game doesn’t make it clear how I messed up, especially when I’m certain I managed to swing the same distance and timing perfectly in the past. I just wish that the game would tell me why I messed up so I can avoid it rather than having to guess. The last issue, which is an issue with the game as a whole, is with the Joy-Cons themselves. As I mentioned in my The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD review, the Joy-Cons aren’t as well suited to motion controls as a regular Wii Remote is, and it shows. Even in a game as simple as this I still find the game getting my swings completely wrong. I’ve genuinely lost count of the number of times I swung left and the game swung right and vice versa, once again it doesn’t happen too often but it’s super annoying when it does. 

Bowling 

Just like tennis, bowling plays pretty much the exact same as its Wii Sports counterpart. With you aiming your throw down the runway and tossing your ball towards a set of pins (sadly you can’t throw the ball behind you and make the Mii’s jump, I’m still in mourning). In local you can have a standard game with just yourself or other players in the same room or you can do a special course, which adds a number of obstacles in the way of your throws, which I actually quite like, it adds a level of challenge that I really enjoy. When you play online however, you play against sixteen other players in a battle royale, where players are eliminated every three rounds and you all compete to stay in the game. This is probably the best thing that was added to the game, it adds a level of tension that I did not think was possible in a game of bowling and it’s just a really cool idea. And before you ask, no I haven’t won one of these – the highest I’ve ever ranked was third –  and I doubt I ever will (the bowling players are so good it’s actually scary). 

Chambara

Chambara is basically sword fighting. You get the option of three weapons, sword, charge sword and twin sword, that you’ll be able to use in the game. In the game the goal is to knock your opponent off the platform. You swing the Joy-Con to swing the sword, obviously, and you can hold down the ZR button to block an incoming attack, if the swing isn’t at the same angle as the block then you stagger and will be susceptible to an attack. This is honestly my least favourite game in the bunch, to the point where I could only stomach to play a few games of it. First of all, this is where the motion controls are at their worst. There are numerous times where I find myself swinging the sword only to have my avatar swing at a different angle from me despite the fact that I was certain that I got it right. I feel the need to carefully aim before I swing and, considering that you do need to be quick to get a hit in, that’s really not a good thing to be thinking of. The blocking on the other hand feels like it’s completely random if it actually works or not, there have been numerous times where I was certain I was blocking in a different direction than my opponent’s swing, and yet the attack still went through, it just left me frustrated and salty by the end. And the less I say about my online games, the better. Just a massive disappointment all around. 

Badminton

Badminton is one of the three new sports added to this game. It plays a lot like tennis, where you just swing the Joy-Con, except this one seems to be a bit deeper than that one. Rather than just swinging the Joy-Con left or right, you’ll mostly be swinging it diagonally. There are also multiple types of swings as well, an upward swing that you have more control over but is also a lot slower, or an overhead swing that happens when the shuttlecock is above you, that hits harder but you have little control over. This is probably the mode that I played the most, but I can’t deny, I’m a tiny bit mixed on it. I do find it a lot of fun, I enjoy that it requires more technique than tennis does and, because of the small court, these rallies can go on for a long time, which heightens the tension of the game, though they can get a little annoying after a while if they go on for too long. On the other hand though, it is way too easy to fumble on. If the shuttle is a little out of reach and you swing then you’ll find yourself messing up on the return and your opponent can do a power strike. This isn’t the problem I have though, that award goes to the tripping. If the shuttlecock is especially out of reach you’ll end up tripping over and messing up the return, to make matters worse it takes an eternity for you to get back up, meaning that it’s an almost guarantee that your opponent will get a score on you. And to make matters even worse, you don’t learn about this in the tutorial section of the game, I learned about this through a bloody loading screen, which leads to a problem with the game as a whole. The tutorials only tell you the simple controls rather than how the games fully work and thus leaving you to figure out the rest on their own. Another problem with this game is the motion controls. Because the game developers decided to have your racket follow the movements with your Joy-Con, just flicking the controller isn’t always enough. On numerous occasions, when I would swing the remote to swing the racket the game would just move the racket to the side slightly rather than swing it. The Joy-Con would need recalibrating very frequently as well, as it’ll end up off centre after a couple of games, it does get annoying. Despite that though, I do still find the game a lot of fun, I would probably say that it’s my second favourite game in this collection. 

Volleyball

While I admit I’m not the best at this one, this is probably my favourite game in the collection. This is easily the most complex one so far, as it requires the player to do multiple different actions for when they bump, set and strike. It’s also probably the hardest to get right, as when your opponent strikes the ball on to your side it’s not the easiest to predict where it’s going to end up and you’ll have to manually move your character to get the chance to bump the ball. What I especially like about it is that, unlike other games, if you mess up slightly, it’ll tell you how by saying whether you did the action too early or late, something that I wish the other games would do. It relies a lot on teamwork as well as you’re having to put a lot of trust into your partner to not mess up and vice versa. Honestly, I just really like this one, I don’t have anything to really criticise it on, it’s pretty great. 

Football

This is an interesting one. Football is the game that plays most like, well, a video game. This is the only game in this collection and requires the use of both Joy-Cons, you use the left one to move the character with the thumb stick and you use the right to kick the ball by swinging it, and you can swing both to dive forward and do a header. If either team gets two points ahead of the other team, the normal, very oversized ball will be replaced with a golden ball that will be worth two points. This game is alright. It honestly reminds me a little of Rocket League, not just with the size of the ball but also with how easy it is to lose it and how little control you have over it. Though honestly, it didn’t really leave that much of an impact on me. While I can’t really think of anything I hate about it, I can’t exactly say that I love it. If there were any problems I have with it, I think that you run out of stamina a little too quickly and it takes a long time to build back up, especially considering how big the field is. Also if anyone quits the match early, the game keeps playing with one team having less players than the other, which is really annoying as the exact same thing happens in Splatoon and it’s still something I don’t like here. 

Overall, while some sports are definitely better than others and Chambara is a mess that I will not want to touch with a ten-foot pole, I still had a lot of fun with the game. While I can say that Wii Sports does some things better – mostly with the motion controls – I can happily say that this is a worthy successor. So yeah, I do recommend this game if you’re a fan of Wii Sports and I hope you have fun with them. Just make sure you are careful of your surroundings and try not to break any lights while playing bowling like an idiot… like I did.

7.7/10

Elliot Chapman
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia6th July 2022
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