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Nintendo Switch Sports Review | A Modern Glow-Up

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It’s fair to say the whole world has been waiting for the release of Nintendo Switch Sports with baited breath – with Wii Sports being such a childhood classic for many, you may be left wondering “Can this even compete?” Well yes. Yes it absolutely can. But is it better? Well, not really, no.

I myself definitely went in as a sceptic – how could these new avatars even compete with the classic Miis of old? Well, if you really want that experience you do have the option to use those miis stored on your Switch, but I quickly found that I didn’t even want to. 

You start with the bare bones of customisation for these new characters and can win more in online play, but even with just the starter gear, I found a lot of joy in making myself a new character, for what is really a new era of sports on Nintendo consoles.

batter up

A friend and I jumped straight into the game, playing locally with two to four joy-cons depending on the game. There are six different sports for you to play, which is one more than the original Wii Sports, but six less than its sequel, Wii Sports Resort. The gameplay is very familiar and there’s an obvious lean to nostalgia but with a shiny new lick of paint.

What has translated really well into Switch Sports is how easy it still is to pick up and play still (with the exception of volleyball but we’ll get to that later). Tennis has you swinging the joy-cons around, bowling has you lining up the perfect shot. 

Both have simple gameplay, but bowling in particular benefits from the more modern joy-cons – curved bowls in particular require a tilt with correct timing. Gone are the days where you can cheese a perfect strike every time – or at least not without some degree of practice. 

There is a lot more nuance to certain games though – one new addition is Badminton, which gives you the option to make drop shots that force your opponent to run to the net, which can be used strategically to win you a round (unless you’re like me and just enjoy flailing your arms all over the place). It rewards good timing, with the speed of your shot determined by the position of the shuttlecock when you swing.

NEW ADDITIONS

Another new addition is football, where you can play either 1v1, or 4v4 (though if you’re playing locally, you can only play with two players due to each needing a pair of joycons). I personally really enjoy this mode in 1v1, where we had a lot of fun headbutting the ball into each other’s goals (albeit, not literally). 4v4 is a much more chaotic mess, with both me and my friend cursing the CPU’s on our side.

Chambara has you swinging at your opponent with a sword and I was pleasantly surprised by this one – my expectation was classic Wii controller flailing, but there’s a lot of skill to it as you have to twist your sword in certain directions to avoid your opponents blocks, which makes the game all that more tense. All you want to do is wack your sword hard, but you have to balance that with considered thought.

And then there’s volleyball. This is by far the hardest of the six games, and is very tricky to pick up at first, as the game plays out like a series of choreographed steps to move the ball around. Even once you get past the initial difficulty curve, I find the repetitive gameplay of just doing certain actions at certain times with a relatively slow pace, to counter the fast paced, chaotic nature of the rest of the games in the pack which I have come to enjoy.

better than wii sports?

So is there anything that separates Switch Sports from Wii Sports? Well, there have been a few innovations. There’s a whole second mode in bowling, which sees you trying to avoid various obstacles as you roll down the aisle. This was fun for a couple of games, but we quickly found ourselves switching back to the classic version.

Football also has a separate mode that has you kicking penalty shoot outs if you have a leg strap, but like the Special bowling, the novelty of this also wore off quickly for the effort of passing the leg strap around. 

There’s definitely one thing though that really sets Switch Sports apart from its predecessor though, and that’s online play. Switch Sports offers the option to play against strangers or friends. The latter can support up to eight of you, though the more players you have, the less sports are available to you (most cap at two or four).

playing online

If you decide to play against strangers, you’ll first be matched against bots once for each sport, before matching with players from all across the world. Most sports play the same online as locally, but there are a few things definitely worth mentioning.

Bowling is by far the most different, as it goes from a 10 round game to a battle royale with 16 players, where only the top half of the players make it through after every 3 rounds. Don’t expect the matchmaking to be fair – this can be a super fun and intense gamemode, but oftentimes if you don’t get the perfect Turkey in your first three bowls, you’ll quickly find yourself out. This matchmaking difference seems to carry over to other sports too, games can be anywhere from easy to hard, with no real consistency.

Football becomes a 4v4, and you’ll be matched with three random people on your team. You’re either gonna have a steamroll game, or be frustrated as your three teammates all chase the ball across the field and never execute a single pass. It’s an online team game, you know the drill.

some frustrations

The final notable mention is Tennis. For the most part, this is great online, but I have a minor gripe with the fact you can be matched against two players when you’re solo, and vice versa. The way this works is similar to Wii Sports where the solo player controls two characters at once, but they will both follow your swings, meaning if you miss with the character closest to the net, you often don’t get a chance to pick it up with your backliner. 

This makes the game much harder for a solo player. Not impossible to win by any means, but it seems like such an obvious choice to match the same number of players together that I’m baffled they chose not to.

And now for the main reason everyone plays online: loot boxes. Well sort of. Remember that character customisation? Well, you’ll earn points when you play online, typically 30-40 per game unless you’re making it to the final round of bowling. For every 100 points you accumulate, you get to roll for a random item from a weekly set (or from the previous two also if you have an active Switch Online Membership) with a completion bonus if you collect all 12. 

leaves a bad taste

I have to say, I don’t like this system at all. I’ve very much been unimpressed with modern games and how they use limited time items to encourage longer gameplay sessions, especially when you see a “Hey, you’ve been playing for an hour. Why not stop?” message when you’ve still got items to go. 

To see a revival of a classic family game be plagued with FOMO tactics just really leaves a bad taste to what otherwise is a fun party game and it would be so much better if there was just a huge list of items to unlock at any time, with new items added to the overall collection every now and then.

In summary, Nintendo Switch Sports is a great, modern day glow up to the classic Wii Sports and a ton of fun to bust out in family, friend or party settings. It’s not without its faults and it can get repetitive after a while but it’s a game you’ll find you keep coming back to when the situation is right for it.

For our Nintendo Switch Sports review, a Switch copy was provided by Nintendo.
Tested on: Nintendo Switch

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Featured Image Credit: Nintendo



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