Nintendo Switch Sports Review

Nintendo Switch Sports Review

The Nintendo Wii’s success was driven by many games. However, one game we all remember clearly was Wii Sports. A sports game that ushered in the age of motion controllers and every household with a Wii console in it can recall swinging their way through the night as they played tennis, bowling and sword fighting. The idea of a possible sequel had everyone excited as the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons pack everything that the Wii Motion Controller (and Motion Plus controller) had but refined for modern games. Nintendo Switch Sports is sadly a far cry from what made Wii Sports so great. In fact, it is a shallow experience that puts an emphasis on online gaming instead of catering for those families who grew up enjoying the sports.

Watch out Nintendo Switch Sports review below

At launch, Nintendo Switch Sports comes packed with six sports modes. Many of them are familiar with the series and for the most part, they all play the same as the original versions. We have Bowling, Tennis, Swordplay (called Chambara), Football, Badminton, and Volleyball. Most sports also have a range of different modes to enjoy. For example, Bowling can be played as a simple match or the Special Lane creates obstacles across each run such as moving bridges and pins that pop up and down which I had to avoid while bowling.

Nintendo Switch Sports Review

These alternate ways to play the game add some layers of depth to the experience but most of these modes are also pretty underwhelming. Football, for example, has some of the best and worst modes in the game. Shoot-Out let me strap on my RingFit Adventure leg strap and kick the ball as it came towards me. Sadly, this mode is also shallow and revolved around me kicking the ball five times to try and get more goals through the massive post than my opponent. Kicking my leg in a different direction or speed also didn’t change the way the player kicked the ball in the game either. It all boiled down to just timing my kick.

I just stood there, flicked my leg and the ball was kicked towards the goals. I just wanted a bit more here. Given how advanced these Joy-Cons are surely Nintendo could have added some sort of direction and speed requirement to each kick too? You’ll also need the leg strap which you need to either own from RingFit, buy the physical edition of Nintendo Switch Sports or purchase the strap separately. I wouldn’t rush out to grab it though.

Nintendo Switch Sports Review

Football also comes with a pretty-fun Four-on-Four mode. Here, players run around the field using the analogue stick on each remote and swing the remotes to kick the ball. I could also swing both at the same time to jump ahead and perform a header shot. While the AI is a bit cumbersome, this mode was fun to play and sort of felt like a Rocket League clone but with some cool motion movement to it.

Volleyball is my least favourite game in this collection. It revolves around two teams of two standing around and performing different actions depending on where the ball is during the match. I had to block the ball if I was in front of the net, hit it up to pass it and hit it forward to smack it to the other side. There’s very little here that kept me on my feet. In fact, after a while, I just sat down to play this mode due to its slow pace and limited movement. I only had to lift my arm every now and then so sitting didn’t even get in the way.

Nintendo Switch Sports Review

Chambara is the swordplay in Nintendo Switch Sports. Here, I could choose from three game modes to play. A single sword, a single sword with a charged attack and twin swords. I was then placed into an arena to face off against my opponent. The aim here is to smack them around while avoiding their blocks and blocking them when they attack. Different angles of blocking can be countered by slicing in the same direction and a charged attack can be performed by swinging both sword down at once.

I did enjoy the Chambara. The motion of the Joy-Cons worked well replicating my actions and the slicing and dicing felt awesome during the match. I do wish matches were a bit longer than just three rounds and the ring was a bit bigger so I could smack my friends around a bit more before knocking them off the edge. But this is “short and shallow” is a common theme in most of the games.

Nintendo Switch Sports Review

Then we have my favourite game mode – Badminton. I mostly enjoyed this mode because it lasted a decent amount of time. While most sports are over before they get good, Badminton let me actually enjoy it and swing my arms around for at least five minutes at a time. Sure, this could be shorter with easier CPU AI but when I had a friend to face, we had some intense matches between the two of us. If only all the sports kept things going for as long as Badminton.

Bowling is okay. There are nine blocks to bowl for but the general gameplay is rather underwhelming here too. In the original game, you had to hold down the trigger button and let go of it when you wanted your Mii to throw the ball. In Nintendo Switch Sports, this is all automated and all you do is swing your arm. Sure, I had to move my character to the centre point but the lack of any real movement skill on offer here was a disappointment. I could curve the ball when turning my hand at the last second but even that felt clunky and most of the time, the curve didn’t turn out as effective as it should have.

Nintendo Switch Sports Review

Tennis is also fun, especially with a team of four. The matches last a decent amount of time but I also felt like the movement of my racket and hitting the ball wasn’t as accurate as Badminton. When I wanted to hit the shuttlecock left, I swung my arm in that direction and it went there. In Tennis, I just flipped my hand and it hit the ball. There’s very little accuracy required to tailor the ball’s movement to where I wanted it to go. Sort of like the game is scared to give players the freedom to move and hit things the way they want.

This was my biggest issue with Nintendo Switch Sports – it just plays it safe and the sports end up being boring due to this. There’s no freedom to have fun and just when you’re into something, the match ends. Even the four-on-four Football – these matches last for five minutes and it is over. The Shoot-out mode made me put on the leg strap, remove the Joy-Con grip and set the whole thing up just to have me barely flick my leg for five shots.

Nintendo Switch Sports Review

But shallow gameplay aside, Nintendo Switch Sports burnt me bad due to its underwhelming progression system. As someone who played the original, and Wii Sports Resort, I was sad to see that everything fun is locked behind an online mode in Nintendo Switch Sports. You can’t progress any ranks and you can’t unlock any cosmetic items to use on your character without playing against other players online. This is a sad cry in a series that was built on the success of gamers who grew up playing this with family and friends in their homes.

There isn’t even a decent leaderboard system that you can enjoy offline with your friends and family. You have to actually go into the game mode, choose the character and wait for the “Best Score” to show on the screen to keep tabs on what your best bowling tally was. I just can’t fathom why Nintendo neglected offline play this much. I know everyone to themselves but this is not a game I will play online against other players. Especially considering ping when connecting to EU servers. This is a game I boot up when friends and family are over to enjoy. It is just a pity that most of the content here is short and mediocre.

Nintendo Switch Sports Review

It isn’t fair to compare this Nintendo Switch Sports to Wii Sports or Wii Sports Resort but Nintendo made this as a spiritual successor and it just doesn’t hit the mark. It takes itself too seriously and as a result, it is missing the core sports that we loved the most and the excitement that came with the original experience.

Nintendo Switch Sports plans on getting Golf added at a later stage and the online mode is expected to get timed events with unique cosmetics to earn. If you’re going to play this online then you might enjoy it more. But if you’re expecting this to keep your gaming parties alive when friends and family come over, I doubt this game has enough life in it to do that.

This Nintendo Switch Sports review is based on a code sent to us by Nintendo. You can pick the game up on 29 April starting at R995

Nintendo Switch Sports Review
  • Content - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Gameplay - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Presentation - 7/10
    7/10
  • Value - 6/10
    6/10

Summary

Nintendo Switch Sports is missing the core mechanics and sports that made the series so great. Its emphasis on online play is also a sad direction to witness.

Overall
6.5/10
6.5/10

Pros

Some fun sports

Potential for more content

Cons

Progression locked to online play

Most sports are shallow and short

Limited offline content and features

Marco is the owner and founder of GLITCHED. South Africa’s largest gaming and pop culture website. GLITCHED quickly established itself with tech and gaming enthusiasts with on-point opinions, quick coverage of breaking events and unbiased reviews across its website, social platforms, and YouTube channel.

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