If you were the proud owner of the Wii back in the day then there’s every chance that you spent a considerable amount of time playing the super fun sports game Wii Sports, which was released in 2006.
That was a long time ago and it feels like we should have had another before now, but better late than never as Nintendo Switch Sports is finally here, but has it been worth all the excitement in the build-up?
Nintendo Switch Sports review: Does it live up to the Wii Sports legacy?
Let’s start with what you can do in the game, or specifically what sports are available. For fans of the original, you’ll be pleased to hear that all the favourites are present and accounted for in Nintendo Switch Sports.
At launch, the game features volleyball, badminton, tennis, bowling, football (not the American kind), and a sort of fencing simulation called chambara.
It is a good mix but one that does feel a little on the low side at launch. That being said, we know that golf is coming later this year and there’s every chance the game will continue to be expanded as its life cycle moves on.
Some here work a lot better than others. We spent a decent amount of time with each and while there’s at least some enjoyment to be had in them all, there are weak points.
Bowling was the most fun here. It’s as simple as you would expect to grasp but far more addictive than we imagined. The competition in this household escalated quicker than expected (your humble reviewer won the battle) and it seems like the perfect game to pick up and play if you have guests over and want to bring some energy to the room.
It is a little too easy on its basic mode and it won’t take a lot before you’re getting strike after strike, but you can adjust the settings and there’s also a fun mode that puts obstacles in the way of the ball to make hitting those pins that little bit trickier.
Then we have chambara, the fencing-like sim that will make you look the strangest to anyone watching on. This is the one that will have your arms flailing all over the place as you work to block incoming attacks and to beat your opponent off the platform and into the water below. There’s not a huge amount to it but, like bowling, it is great, silly fun and perfect for a party.
Tennis and badminton obviously share a lot of similarities and both work as well as each other. It can be tricky to master certain elements – getting the ball to go in the direction you want it to go can feel a bit like pot luck at times – but when it does work as intended it can be quite addictive, and we played several rounds here back to back purely because the games were always tight and down to the wire. It’s worth noting here that tennis is purely for playing doubles, while Badminton allows 1v1 battles.
Then there is volleyball, the one we were most looking forward to out of the bunch (aside from the incoming golf) and while we did get enjoyment from it, it was this sport where some of the problems began to show.
Volleyball just feels clunky from the get-go and did so even in the training section. Whacking the ball over the net isn’t too difficult, but try to do anything fancy and you will likely come unstuck. Spiking the ball was virtually impossible for us although that could be down to an incoming patch – that or we are just terrible at virtual volleyball.
The weakest link here is perhaps the most disappointing – football. It’s even more frustrating that this is the worst of the bunch as it’s the one that many will have to fork out extra for. Football is included in the digital version of the game, but only the pricier physical copy comes with the leg strap that is needed to play.
Honestly, with how football plays at the moment, you would be far better off not coughing up more cash for the accessory and just giving it a wide berth – for now at least. It is hard to get any kind of flow with this sport going and the leg strap inclusion feels like it needed more testing and work before it was released – much like golf has been held back to, presumably, do some more work to make it fit to play.
Nintendo Switch Sports in its current form feels like a brilliant starting point for a game that could be special and hugely addictive once issues are ironed out and new content is added. As it stands now, it’s still worth picking up and you should find a lot to enjoy about it – more so if you have a bunch of people with you to make it a Nintendo Switch Sports party.
But with six games on offer at launch, most people will likely find that they stick to the same 3-4 sports and we can see football, and maybe even volleyball, being relegated to the ones you play if you have found yourself bored with the others.
Happily, those others will keep you entertained for hours if you’re in the right mood, but it all does feel a little slight and that the whole package will only end up being something pulled out every now and then if you have company.
All the games can be played alone, and it is well worth spending some time trying to master the basics before launching into a full game against someone. There is something quite relaxing about bowling alone here, for example, and while you don’t have to do the full bowl motion (you can just sort of flick your wrist instead much like most other sports), it feels a lot more fun if you get into it and do the actions properly – just be wary of your surroundings as the dog that lives here got an unexpected whack when he obliviously strolled past mid-arm swing.
So while there are issues and the controls can be a tad on the clunky side at times, when Nintendo Switch Sports works as intended, it does feel like the Wii Sports sequel we wanted it to be. We had some amazing moments when trying it out and contests went down to the wire and ignited our competitive streak. It’s just a shame that the whole package still feels like it needed a bit more time and development as this could have been a stunning title – and still could be depending on what updates are rolled out over time.
While we are pretty confident in the score we will give this, we were not able to get any access to online play as it will not go live until launch. In all honesty, the online aspect is not really that big a deal for us personally as this is a game that feels best played in person with groups, but our views on that could change when we get to try it and it could well impact our overall score – so look for us to add that over the next few days. You will also have extra options when online is activated such as new cosmetics, but again, we were not able to see what that was like or how substantial it is.