Starting off our Nintendo Switch Sports review with a reminder that it is a successor to the sports mini-game compilation that Nintendo pioneered with Wii Sports. It was packed in with every Wii console; guaranteeing it to be one of the most widely played games of all time.
Wii Sports Resort would succeed and would expand upon the mini-game compilation with a fitness resort style environment and new sports like sky-diving and even jet skiing. With a total of 12 sports, Wii Sports Resort was the gold standard for a mini-game compilation centered on motion controls.
Nintendo Switch Sports aims to continue the line of casual-friendly sports mini-game compilation for the Nintendo Switch. After Wii Sports Resort, could this new entry improve upon the formula? Find out in the Nintendo Switch Sports review!
Nintendo Switch Sports
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: April 29, 2022
Players: 1-4 (online and local)
Price: $49.99 USD ($39.99 digital)
In its current state, Nintendo Switch Sports has six games: bowling, chambara, volley ball, tennis, badminton and soccer. Golf is not yet available and will be included as a free update later in 2022. Immediately, it is hard to shake off the overwhelming disappointment of a meagre six sports when the prior entry had 12.
Nintendo Switch Sports reuses bowling, and tennis which includes badminton but is functionally very similar to tennis as is. For its price, it is hard to justify the lack of content in this compilation, especially when compared to Wii Sports Resort.
The presentation is also a vulgar step backwards. The sterile and lifeless menus do not inspire excitement and there is barely any sense of discovery. Wii Sports Resort had the genius idea of setting the game in a location and would even allow players to freely explore the area using jetskis.
Nintendo Switch Sports does not have to be set in a vast open environment, but having a setting where players could meet in lobbies and organize seemed obvious.
While players still can use Miis to create an avatar, the new custom character options begin extremely limited. Aesthetically, the new blank slates resemble something that one might see in a Pokemon game. The new avatars have soft anime-like qualities and all have the same build and proportions; there is no way to be a big buff guy or massively endowed lady.
While custom options are severely restricted at first, playing the sports earns XP. Every 100 points earned allows players to randomly win an accessory from the various sets that are available for a limited time. The sets are apparently rotated over time and this is meant to push for players to become more of an individual with their expression.
Regretfully, none of the accessories or hair styles can be mixed with Miis. Won a pair of thick rimmed glasses? Your custom Mii won’t be able to equip it.
This is initially disappointing, but the range of accessories, hair styles, and options acquired over time will permit more range when putting time into Nintendo Switch Sports.
Like always, tennis is a mainstay and is as satisfying like it has always been. It is a very simple game with a flick of the wrist and a little bit of timing is all you need.
Regretfully, players can’t do singles in this iteration and like every mini-game in Nintendo Switch Sports, there are no options to adjust the matches to make them more interesting.
With the exception of soccer, players have no direct control over their avatar’s movement and only input basic serves or returns.
Most gestures are automated and contextual with some exceptions. Chambara and soccer are the only two sports that use both joy-cons and even then – chambara only uses two joy-cons when using the dual swords.
Chambara is ridiculously simple and has almost no depth to it. This didn’t need to match the complexity of a real sword fighting game, but not having the option to control the player-character’s footwork severely limits what can be done. The different sword options don’t amount to much of a difference either and all handle the same.
Badminton is a wasted slot and really should have been an alternate mode for tennis. There are some differences in the mechanics, but the core is functionally the same.
They could have added frisbee or archery from Resort; two sports which made more use of the gyroscope in the controllers than what is seen in the tiring back and forth with tennis or badminton.
Bowling is still a highlight of the package. It does seem a bit too easy to get strikes consistently which leads to many players competing online to get stuck with a tie.
Sadly, there is only one mode when bowling online. Spin control or the 100 pin modes were not included and their exclusion is sorely felt in a game that is utterly anemic.
Soccer is the one sport in Nintendo Switch Sports that shows the potential when two joy-cons can be use. Playability in this sport is very deep and players have a surprising amount of control compared to anything else in the package.
In soccer, avatars can freely run, jump, dive, and kick in any direction the player swings their controller. The ball is also massive and easy to target so nobody on the field can lose track of where it goes.
Of all the sports in this compilation, soccer is definitely the one that the boys at Nintendo gave the most attention. Unfortunately, like all the other sports; there are no options to customize the game for longer matches. There isn’t even a way to break rules or get a foul.
The foundation is solid, as it is in everything in Nintendo Switch Sports, there is just so little to work with to make it interesting.
For its price, it is absurdly barren and the only thing to work towards are avatar customization pieces. There could have been some kind of career mode, but the focus is solely on multiplayer, be it local or online.
For what it’s worth – the online is very stable and even with a terrible internet connection, matches went very smoothly. There was no noticeable lag during any of the matches for any game.
Soccer, which has the most active players running around chasing a large physics-based object, always maintained fluidity and functionality with no drops.
Since Nintendo Switch Sports is a game focused exclusively on intuitive motion controls, there is no way to play this in portable mode. This effectively makes the game unplayable on a Switch Lite and severely limits anyone who wishes to work towards getting completion of all the accessories while on the go.
Perhaps Nintendo did not want to give players a huge advantage with standard controllers, since button inputs will always outclass motion input latency. It still would have been helpful if there was an option, especially since an overwhelming majority of Nintendo Switch Sports players are very young children who are getting used to gaming.
Any experienced gamer who plays online will feel like they are an olympic god playing against a kindergarten class. The player pool in Nintendo Switch Sports are hopelessly unprepared for anyone over the age of 12.
Their motor skills are just not prepared for an adult’s sense of timing and accuracy while playing volleyball or the cunning when outwitting them while feinting in chambara.
As someone who does not play online regularly, I myself was astonished by how easily I was able to cruelly trample over all the competition. Sometimes I would let them get some free shots in tennis, just because I did not want the match to end so soon and because there is a point bonus modifier for longer games.
Nintendo Switch Sports is an overpriced compilation of mini-games aimed for children. It is also very polished but also sorely lacking content and even with golf, it won’t be enough to justify the lack of effort in this product. It is amusing to go online and to rob children of getting a victory, but even that becomes hollow when there are so few ways to make it compelling.
Our Nintendo Switch Sports review was done on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by Nintendo. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Nintendo Switch Sports is now available for Nintendo Switch (via the eShop).