However, it’s been missing one huge part of the company’s 21st-century success story: a follow-up to Wii Sports.
The party game was an integral part of the Wii’s astronomical success, but we’re only getting a Switch equivalent five years into the newer console’s lifespan – and 15 years after the original.
Still, better late than never, and Switch Sports does indeed feel like slipping back in time – in a very good way.
Switch Sports felt like a fairly sure thing when it was announced – Nintendo could practically re-release Wii Sports and we’re pretty sure it would have a hit on its hands.
Thankfully, though, the major visual upgrades that Switch Sports offers aren’t the only improvement.
With more accurate motion tracking and a roster of sports that include some new options, it might just earn its place as another staple in every Switch owner’s collection.
We’re a little sad to lose golf, baseball and boxing, and the lineup is far smaller than Wii Sports Resort offered, but it’s entirely likely we’ll see more added down the line.
The game’s reasonable pricing makes this even easier to accept, as well, and it could wind up being even better value for money if the online mode develops as Nintendo hopes.
We’ll be revisiting Switch Sports in a few weeks to see just how it fares online.
- Visuals are lovely
- New modes add variety
- Captures the same feel as Wii Sports
- A lot of online focus
- More sports would be nice
A world of sport
Switch Sports arrives with an immediate graphical advantage over the good old days of Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort. We’re not playing in 480p anymore, baby.
The game has a bright and airy look and feel to it, with clean, simple menus that make it easy to get into the fun.
The roster of sports this time around is an interesting one. Classics are on the table in the form of tennis and bowling, while newcomers round out the list – badminton, football, volleyball and chambara (sword fighting).
It’s a fairly diverse set of options, and each takes place in its own distinct environment, with the surroundings more vivid and interesting than ever, making it all the more bearable to watch people play while you wait your turn.
You also get to customise the look of your character or import a Mii from other games, if you’ve already made one. There are a limited set of options when you first make your sports star, but you’ll unlock more outfit choices and accessories as you play the game over time, if that’s your bag.
Once again, there’s a fun and zippy soundtrack to the menus, which is something that has become so iconic since Wii Sports’ launch.
We’re impressed by the presentation values overall; the game looks solidly crisp on the TV (which is where you’ll be playing it, given the motion-controlled focus).
Going through the motions
It’s a real buzz slipping back into the tennis or bowling shoes we’ve left vacant for so many years, and playing the more familiar games in Switch Sports’ roster is a throwback in the best way.
Bowling is just as relaxing and precise as it ever was, and tennis has the same variation in speed and intensity as rallies tally up.
Comparing these two sports to the Wii days is interesting, too. While the precision of the motion controls may indeed be a little better – and you can really feel this as you twist your hand to put some spin on a bowling ball – it also feels like nothing has changed when things start getting frantic.
We’ve still found ourselves panicking and waffling our Joy-Con around when we’re on the back foot in tennis or badminton (which plays very similar but a bit more quickly) and, most importantly, this still yielded the same breathless sense of fun that Wii Sports spread so far. It’s a really important element for Switch Sports to capture, and we think that Nintendo’s achieved just that.
When it comes to the newer modes on offer, some of them represent interesting additions.
Chambara offers a fun rock-paper-scissors style combat that can be as quick or as tactical as you and your partner like. Finding the mental time to work out what you should be countering with is a fun process that’s way harder than it looks.
Volleyball, meanwhile, has you trying to string together sets, pops and spikes to speed the ball past your opponents, and its focus on teamwork could be popular for those who don’t want to be in competition with each other.
Football, meanwhile, is a surprisingly in-depth new offering. It’s kind of like playing Rocket League at a snail’s pace – affording you far more time to react and reposition, but with the same loose potential for off-the-cuff plays, thanks to the oversized ball’s physics properties.
That said, something about its more complex controls (with camera control and full movement options) meant that we didn’t come back to it as much as the simpler games. We have a feeling the upcoming Mario Strikers: Battle League might offer a better alternative for football fans.
Most of the sports offer a couple of modes to try out, as well – from obstacle avoidance in bowling to a pure penalty shootout in football (complete with shrinking goals when you’re on a streak). They’re fun extras that go a long way to keep the games feeling fresh even once you’ve had them a little while.
In football’s case, this also means slipping on the optional leg strap for some satisfying kicks – something that’s only available in the penalty mode at launch but will come to the game more widely in subsequent updates.
There’s good news for those who have Ring Fit Adventure already, too – that game’s leg strap will work seamlessly with Switch Sports.
Playing Switch Sports against or with a friend in the same room feels like the core of the experience, in our view, and it’s been super fun challenging friends across the various modes and handing out Joy-Cons to play with.
That said, Nintendo’s made it clear that online play is going to be a huge part of Switch Sports’ longevity.
Servers haven’t been up ahead of the game’s launch, however, so we’ve been unable to test its service out. You’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online membership to play online, of course.
It doesn’t sound like anything is locked behind the more expensive Expansion tier of that service, thankfully, and it also seems that logging on to play regularly should net you plenty of cosmetic rewards.
That said, we’re not sure people will be coming to Switch Sports in search of a detailed progression system. It’s going to be a party game for most of those who buy it, and, on that front, it’s a great addition to Nintendo’s modern roster.
Switch Sports is a game we can’t believe Nintendo waited this long to make. It proves these kinds of sports mini-games are still super fun, with the new visuals and motion controls also holding up well in most circumstances. We’re looking forward to seeing how its online modes develop.
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Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Editing by Conor Allison.