The overwhelming success of the Nintendo Sports series has delighted fans since the Wii. Wii Sports was bundled with the popular Nintendo console, and sold approximately 82.9 million copies throughout the generation. Further iterations of the franchise included Wii Sports Resort, and the enhanced remake for Wii U, Wii Sports Club. Quite a few years have passed since those games were released, and now it’s time for a new generation of fans to get off their sofas, get active, and take on a variety of games in Nintendo Switch Sports.
Please note that I wasn’t provided with a leg strap accessory in time for this review, but will add my thoughts if this changes.
Nintendo Switch Sports
Developed by Nintendo EAD
Published by Nintendo
Released: 29th April 2022
Welcome to Spocco Square, the sports complex where Nintendo Switch Sports takes place. At the time of writing this review, there are six sports to enjoy, with classics such as Tennis and Bowling made popular with previous games, and with newly added sports titles Volleyball, Badminton, Football, and Chambara. Golf has also been promised for later this year in autumn 2022. When you first begin, you will be asked to choose a nickname and appearance for your in-game avatar, where you can change your face, hairstyle, and eye colour. You can even add a Mii head to your avatar, for those who are feeling nostalgic for the Wii generation of Sports titles. All of this can be changed later if you wish to do so, including a wide variety of clothing and accessory customisations, which we will go into later. Once you’re all set, it’s time to jump in!
For the most part, the sports function and control are about as well as you would imagine they would, and each game is played using a combination of one, or both Joy-Con controllers. If you’ve enjoyed previous games in the series, you will already have a good idea of how each game will control. There are two online modes, and each one lets you play with an additional player from the same console. Global matches you against strangers, offering the chance to unlock cosmetic items for your avatar, and Friends lets you play against friends from afar. You can, of course, play locally with up to four players on one Nintendo Switch system in the same room.
Volleyball teams you up in a 2 vs 2 match where you control the ball with the objective of knocking it over the net and onto your opponent’s side. On the surface, it looks rather simple, and while that can be true once you get to grips with the controls, timing is everything. Originally I found myself being too eager to hit the ball, and ended up missing my shots, and being unable to block after being spiked by the opponent. But keeping a close eye on the position of the ball, the opponents, and using the analogue stick to move into position to take the shot, helped me become a better player. Despite this, I found Volleyball to be the least enjoyable of the compilation, but hopefully, in time, I will become better.
Badminton was a game I used to play a lot of when I was younger, so I was eager to play this one on Nintendo Switch Sports. The goal of Badminton is to hit the shuttlecock into the opponent’s area by swinging the Joy-Con in the direction you want it to land. You can perform a spike by hitting the shuttlecock when it’s at its highest point, or a drop shot with ZR to make it land just next to the net on your opponent’s side. I discovered that if I attempted to hit the shuttlecock from too far away, I gave my opponent an opportunity to take the point, so I tried to be less eager to hit the shot, and gave myself a bit more time to reach it, resulting in fewer losses. It’s a surprisingly straightforward game, and easy to get to grips with, and I enjoyed this sport immensely.
Bowling was one of my favourite titles in Wii Sports, and more recently as part of 51 Worldwide Games on Nintendo Switch. Bowling is as simple as holding down ZR and rolling your ball across the lane to knock down as many pins as possible. The game comes with the usual standard mode, offering classic tenpin bowling, but switches things up with a special mode that challenges you to avoid obstacles, changing with each lane. But the most notable is the addition of an online-exclusive mode, where you battle it out against up to fifteen other opponents. In this mode, you have three turns to get the best score of your opponents, with the lowest-scoring players getting eliminated. If you score highly enough, you will progress to the next round.
I felt that Bowling behaved the most realistic of all the sports in the compilation, including the ability to add spin to your shots by twisting the Joy-Cons as the ball leaves your hand. The addition of a ‘battle royale’ mode to Bowling is a great idea, but I wish that it was available online with other friends, or locally with CPU players of various difficulties. Despite this, it’s a very fun mode that I highly recommend!
Football involves teams of up to four players, with the objective of scoring goals into your opponent’s side of the pitch. By taking control of both Joy-Cons, you are able to fully navigate your character around the stadium. Moving the left analogue stick will allow you control your character, and the right analogue controls the camera angle. Holding down the ZR button will let you run for a limited amount of time. Swinging a Joy-Con upwards, left, right, down, or diagonally, will let you aim the ball towards the goal, or another player to set up a shot. You can even perform a Diving Header, by swiping both Joy-Cons downwards, to perform a powerful header! I had a ton of fun playing this sport, and if I could offer any tips to improve your chances of winning, it would be to conserve your stamina when running, to ensure you have enough of it to reach the ball in time. If you like Rocket League or even Metroid Prime: Blast Ball, you will enjoy this one!
Chambara is a sword fighting game where you stand atop a platform, and use swords to strike or defend from your opponent, with the objective of knocking them off the platform, and into the waters below. You can choose to play Chambara in three different styles: The basic Sword style has the most powerful strike of the three, whereas the Charge Sword lets you build up energy from blocking, and unleashing that in a powerful strike by holding down the L or R buttons, depending on which Joy-Con you are choosing. Finally, the Twin Swords style will charge up your swords over play, letting you unleash a powerful attack with either sword.
I really enjoyed Chambara, especially when playing the game with Leon during our online stream. At one point, we scored equally, and the final deciding point made the platform shrink down to a small space for us to fight on. Running at Leon and knocking them off the platform quickly into the water was hilarious. Despite being pretty rubbish at this one, this moment made me look again at Chambara and realise how much fun it actually was!
Finally we have Tennis, the sport that made me want to own a Wii back in the day, is back for Nintendo Switch Sports in a 2 vs 2 team game. Like many sports in this compilation, Tennis requires you to rally the ball back and forth between you and your opponents, and attempt to land the ball on their side of the court before they can deliver it back at you. You can apply top and backspin to your shots by flicking your Joy-Con inwards or outwards. You can also perform a lob shot by flicking the Joy-Con upwards from below. If your timing is perfect, you can even perform a rocket serve at the start of a game, by hitting the ball from its highest point.
Tennis can be played on various courts during gameplay, with grass, clay and hard court types, which make the ball behave differently, just like in real tennis. While it’s great to see Tennis return, it didn’t really offer anything new compared to previous versions I have been playing for the past sixteen years.
Once you have played enough of one particular sport online through Global Mode, you will have the option of entering the Pro Certification for that specific activity. Pro Certifications are for the most dedicated players who want a challenge. Your Pro League Rank will be assigned, and will fluctuate depending on how well you perform. But if you want to take a break from pro play, you can pause your progress from the options menu, allowing you to enjoy the game without the pressure or risk of losing your progress.
Through the Playing Globally mode, you can match up with random players across the globe, and receive items through play. Completing a match of each sport will net you some points, and when you have earned one hundred of them, you can receive a custom item from a random assortment of items in a collection. Each collection has a total of twelve items, containing accessories, titles, stamps, and equipment. Completing a collection will net you a bonus clothing set for your character to wear, so if there’s something you really like the look of, you can specifically aim to complete everything within that collection before moving on to another. These sets appear to change weekly, and while they are time-limited, I suspect they will cycle through to give people further chances to obtain them in the future.
Titles offer an additional form of customisation, letting you choose from a selection of words that will appear on your card during online play. Although many are available from the very start, more can be obtained through play. Stamps allow you to communicate and express your satisfaction or disappointment directly to other players in the lobby.
While Nintendo Switch Sports offers some great activities, overall I felt the offerings were weaker and less varied than what the series has been known for. Wii Sports Resort had a wider range of sports such as Wakeboarding and Canoeing, and others such as Archery and Frisbee show just how varied the choices could have been, based on a title released almost thirteen years ago. The complex also looks like it could accommodate some free-roaming options, similar to how you could fly around Wuhu Island in Resort, which isn’t present at all in this title at the time of writing. The lack of Golf as part of the compilation is noticeable, and something I would have expected to have seen from day one. Because of this, the selection offered became stale rather quickly.
But there’s also some praise to be given. The Alternate-Colour Mode in Switch Sports should help those with colour blindness see more noticeable differences through play, such as darker and lighter colours used on tennis courts to make the ball stand out better. Accessibility options in video games should always be celebrated, especially if it means more people get to play. I should also mention that the music and sound design in the game is pretty solid, with a main theme including some leitmotifs from the original Wii Sports theme that will send you on a nostalgia trip back in time. The price point of £30.99 (digital) and £39.99 (physical) may attract some players to give it a try.
But to appeal in the long term, Nintendo needs to add a wider range of sports, including some single-player content such as free-roaming. I would love to walk around the resort and explore the different shops, and even explore it by air with a small plane drone, as a throwback to the Island Flyover seen in Wii Sports Resort where you could fly over Wuhu Island. I also think some Nintendo-exclusive content such as accessories and clothing, would be an excellent addition. Imagine using Link’s Master Sword in Chambara, or Samus’s Morph Ball from Metroid being the ball in Football? How about the option to dress as Waluigi and play some Volleyball against Rosalina and Daisy?
Nintendo Switch Sports offers a small yet enjoyable selection of sports that will thrive in local play with family and friends in person, but falls short of what I would expect from a modern day sports title, becoming stale fairly quickly. But with an attractive price point and the promise of more content in the future, maybe there’s hope for this to become a key title in someone’s Nintendo Switch library.
Final score – 3 out of 5
Darren is a huge Nintendo fan from the days of the Gameboy Color and his copy of Pokémon Blue. Over time, he developed a passion for many Nintendo franchises, including Metroid. His favourite system is the Wii.