Switch Sports is more iteration than innovation, but that’s not a bad thing

How do you master one of the most played video games of all time? Apparently, for Nintendo, the answer was simple: you stick to the script. While the world has changed dramatically since 2006, in our hands-on experience, Nintendo’s approach to sports hasn’t changed. Step into the sleek yet familiar feel of Switch Sports.

The first thing that becomes clear to me when approaching the long-awaited sequel is that it is a more modern beast than its creator Wii. Ditching the iconic Miis for expressive Pokémon training avatars, each sport takes place in stunningly detailed new locations, complete with the expected online modes.

Something old, something new, something borrowed

Spocco Square on Switch Sports

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Set in sprawling Spocco Square, a sports facility that feels like a slightly dystopian entertainment hub, the Switch’s new setup is unbelievably stunning. From the water features that adorn the backyard backdrops to the impeccably polished floors that sparkle underfoot, Nintendo has put amazing effort into visuals that tie the simple sports simulation together.

Still, in the two hours I’ve spent playing the motion-controlled multiplayer outing, Nintendo Switch sports proves that the core premise hasn’t lost its motion-controlled magic. The high-profile triple factor of tennis, bowling and fencing make a welcome return, feeling as much fun as Christmas mornings with hungover parents. Fortunately, there is a dash of innovation between all the iterations. In addition to the old classics, Nintendo has created three new sporting additions to the roster: soccer, badminton, and volleyball.

Play volleyball on Nintendo Switch Sports

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Badminton is in the lead, and it’s a belt. To my surprise, the racket sport is pleasingly different from tennis, combining subtle motion-controlled movements with the added aggression of dropshots and power shots, resulting in a very competitive and well-paced small game mode. .

Next up is another new addition: volleyball. The Olympic favorite feels like possibly the most unique of the Switch-exclusive sports. Built entirely around teamwork, you’ll need to plan your offense around four main tenants: the serve, the strike, the set, and the spike. The ability to block shots by raising your hands also gives you the ability to trick your opponents, adding a welcome layer of strategy and potential mind games to matches. It pays to be in tune with your partner here too. If you and your teammate hit the right timing, the perfect setup can result in a super smash – a powerful smash that sends the ball to the ground of your opponent’s court.

The Sword Fighting Chambara minigame on Switch Sports

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Next up is a Wii Sports Resort favourite: sword fighting. Renamed Chamabara, the dueling minigame sees two players balancing on a Kobra Kai-style plate, high above a pool of water. The goal? To knock your enemy off said stage and throw him into the water. It feels like the Wii lightsaber game you’ve always wanted, with the added motion-sensing capabilities of the Joy-Con ensuring keystrokes are smooth and precise. Interestingly, the entire setting for these water duels sees you surrounded by desks, houseplants, and a strangely professional bar. Intentionally or not, the developers at Nintendo have nailed the dueling feel into a WeWork. Much like possible false outs in volleyball, the extra movement accuracy allows you to trick your opponent into letting their guard down. Each round becomes an increasingly tense game of chicken as you and your opponent try to read each other’s moves, through a combination of blocking, horizontal, diagonal, and vertical strikes, with the option of a swinging sword. . charge attack or a heavier sword adds fun. depth of the procedure.

go through the motions

nintendo switch sports

(Image credit: Nintendo)

In an era where VR has pushed and perfected motion controls, going back to the simplistic shoves and swipes of yesteryear seems rather quaint. Still, the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons are far more responsive beasts than Wiimotes, leading to less frustration and more nuance when it comes to curves and tiny directional inputs. Bowling is a great example of this, with the Joy-Cons’ enhanced motion detection allowing you to add a satisfying amount of spin to each bowling.

Finally, another novelty: football. I found this to be the most surprising of the new game modes, largely due to its complete inauthenticity. Where the other leading sports go to great lengths to emulate their inspirations, soccer ditches the realism for what is essentially low-budget Rocket League. Here, up to four players run around a small field chasing a giant ball. As expected, players take full control of their avatar, using the analog stick to dash across the field and a tap of the Right Joy-Con to shoot. While it’s perfectly usable, I couldn’t help but think I’d rather play Rocket League. However, it is not without merit. The highlight of this rather bizarre mode is the diving header animation, where moving both Joy-Cons simultaneously sends your player soaring through the air before unceremoniously crashing to the ground like a Magikarp thrown onto a football pitch.

nintendo switch sports

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The secondary soccer mode, shootout, works a bit better. This fun little mode allows you to put on the ring-fit leg strap and use the full power of your leg to kick the ball into the back of the net. In a nice touch, the more you hit on penalties, the smaller the goal becomes, adding a nice rubber band to proceedings and keeping things taut, despite the lack of skill.

Tennis, again, looks pretty much the same, but as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t screw it. Unsurprisingly, it’s racket sports that require the most excursions, with a series of intense tennis and badminton matches breaking a sweat. Interestingly, what I have seen of the game is not the alpha and omega, as the game receives free post-launch updates, including the addition of a new sport: golf.

nintendo switch sports

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Overall, I had a great time during my brief stint on Switch Sports. The only complaint is the apparent lack of solo player modes. I’m told that playing online will allow you to further customize your shiny new avatar, with new cosmetic items and character customizations unlocked through online play. Bowling will also feature a 12-player online tournament mode, which was not available for testing during my demo.

While the online games will help give solo players something to do, the lack of any kind of league mode or scoring attacks seems like a puzzling omission in a release that was almost 20 years in the making. . At its core, though, Nintendo Switch Sports seems poised to fulfill the same mission the original did so many years ago: to make families smile and have fun watching TV together.

Nintendo Switch Sports launches on April 29, but for now why not check out the others? upcoming switch games to add to your wish list.

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