Nintendo Switch Sports is the fourth installment in the popular “Sports” series of motion-controlled Nintendo titles which began with Wii Sports back in 2016. Continuing from such a beloved series, perhaps Nintendo Switch Sports should have been a launch title for the Nintendo Switch system back in 2017 rather than coming out later in the console’s lifecycle — but it still very much feels like a new step in the series and a title that fans have been waiting for.
After spending 20 hours playing the various sports and different challenges on offer, the game felt familiar but with a great deal left to be desired. Many of the game’s features were not available to us pre-release, so there are features we cannot talk about at this time, such as online play and extra customization items.
Still, I found myself returning to the game every so often to play and practice certain sports ahead of the launch of online play, when I’ll be able to experience everything that is on offer, rise through the rankings, and become a Chambara God. Until then, the game feels incomplete.
Motion sports at its finest
Nintendo Switch Sports brings together three returning sports from the series as a whole — Tennis, Bowling, and Chambara (sword fighting) — while adding new sports with Soccer, Badminton, and Volleyball. The first thing that strikes you when playing any of the six sports on offer, especially if you played any of the Wii Sports titles, is just how well the Joy-Con controllers work.
The 1:1 movement of the Joy-Con controller to the tennis racket, the badminton racket, the sword, and everything else in-between is truly amazing. Where you swing the controller, the character on-screen copies your movements and positioning perfectly. If you tilt your wrist in Bowling, the bowling ball will swerve to the side and if you slam your badminton racket at a fast pace, your character will hit a devastating shot at your opponent. This makes for a better experience overall.
There isn’t any controller thrashing here, either. In fact, doing so will impede you and give skilled players the chance to take a free win. When swinging the Joy-Con wildly in Badminton or hitting the Shuttlecock early, the character would sometimes fall over or give the opponent an opportunity to do a super shot, as an example.
Outside of the regular sports modes, certain Sports also have some challenging modifiers, such as with Bowling, which can add mini obstacle course-like runs that will test your skills and mastery of the Joy-Con to its fullest.
The game also boasts unlockable cosmetic options like new costumes, sports equipment, and more. We were unable to see any of this, however, due to these unlockables being exclusive to online play, which was not available during the review period.
Honestly, there is plenty to like about Nintendo Switch Sports. Unfortunately, we were unable to really see the full experience pre-release when it comes to Online play. The game seems to be built around online matches with the Pro League ranked system which allows you to rank up each sport as you win more games. Major content seems locked behind online play, which has me worried that the core in-person party experience might suffer because of the online-focused nature of the title.
Could be sportier
One of the biggest gripes when it comes to Nintendo Switch Sports is the severe lack of different modes per sport.
While we didn’t have access to online play, the information provided by Nintendo shows that online play will be limited to set mode each time. For instance, Bowling will only be 16-player survival against randoms or 8-player survival with friends with no alternative option available. This means if you wanted to have a casual bowling round with friends online or try the challenge mode, you will not be able to do so. Locally, however, more modes are available for games like Bowling, which begs the question of why these weren’t an option to begin with.
Similarly, just like in Wii Sports, games like Tennis are locked to 2v2 each time with no option of 1v1 modes. Some sports are also limited to what’s on offer despite games like Bowling having specific challenge modes to give a different experience. It feels like a lack of thought was put into the experience, almost like it was rushed out with hopes of adding more to the game over time as free DLC, such as Golf, which isn’t expected to be added until later this year.
Also, with most content being locked behind online play, local play and solo modes feel redundant as players are unable to unlock additional cosmetics or have a goal to reach unless they go online instead.
While Nintendo Switch Sports will be able to scratch that Wii Sports itch that people have had for the past decade, a few fans might feel mixed about the games on offer and the lack of content until the eventual free updates start to roll out.
Even though internet play was not available during our review, the core, local, party experience still feels like the way to play and brings back a lot of those nostalgic days on Wii Sports all those years ago with friends and family.
The Switch Joy-Con helps to make every swing, every throw, and every kick accurate and allows for some more interesting and strategic gameplay over its predecessor. Nintendo Switch Sports is definitely another amazing game to hit the Switch’s vast library — even though it might leave some people still hoping for more.
8 / 10
|1:1 motion controls make each match feel competitive
|Online play is a plus for those who don’t have anyone to play with locally
|The core experience has a lot of unlockables and fun surprises for them
|The lack of modes per sport feels disheartening
|The choice of sports at launch could have had a better selection
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Gamepur team received a Nintendo Switch code for the purpose of this review.