Nintendo Switch Sports review

Nintendo Switch Sports has arrived and if it’s half as successful as 2006’s Wii Sports, then Nintendo will have a major hit on their hands. The Nintendo Switch has recently surpassed the Wii in sales, both selling in excess of 100 million units, so Nintendo Switch Sports has the potential to be huge… but can they pull it off? Today we’re going to find out.

In Nintendo Switch Sports we have six games to play, all fairly familiar if you are a fan of the series. There is tennis, badminton, football, chambara, volleyball and bowling. Golf is coming to the game soon, which will round out the offer for now. As you enter each sport you’ll get a quick tutorial in what to do, then it’s right into the action with the sport.

It’s a little surprising you are thrown right in. In previous titles, Nintendo provided quite in-depth tutorials to get used to the sports, but here you are thrown into the action almost immediately. This does make it nice and quick to get into the action, however, if you don’t know what you are doing then the experience can be a little jarring. Bowling, Tennis, and Badminton are all pretty straightforward. Football, Volleyball and especially Chambara are slightly more in-depth and could do with some more details.

Let’s have a look at the sports in a little more detail.

Tennis feels similar to the tennis we’ve seen and played before. You can use a variety of shots like forehand, backhand and lob to outsmart your opponent. It does feel a little minimal and doesn’t feel like it’s come a long way in the 16 years it’s been in the game. It’s a fine implementation of tennis, but it would have been nice to see a little more innovation from Nintendo here.

Chambara is a new one to me. Essentially this is like a sword fight. You and your opponent have a big stick and you have to batter them to knock them back and off their perch. There are different weapons to choose from, and it’s fun tempting your opponent into striking you and then whacking them to make them fall when they are off-balance. I’d not played the previous version of this called Swordplay from Wii Sports Resort, but it’s good fun and one that’ll be on the regular rotation.

Volleyball is perhaps the most disappointing of them all. The game feels very slow, players are automatically moved into position and the game options are limited. I can see why the designers wanted it to be slow, so players can focus on the volleyball ‘actions’ of the game, but it had negative side effects which are a detriment to the whole game, which ultimately puts me off Volleyball entirely.

Football is interesting to say the very least. Whereas some of the sports are pick up and play, for this sport you need to know a little bit more… not only the rules of the game but the control scheme too for the Nintendo Switch. The player uses the left stick to control the running, then you have to kick the ball into the goal with various button presses. There’s 1v1, 4v4, practice mode and a penalty shoot-out. Although fun, it’s probably the most awkward of all the games and suffers the same fate as volleyball as times feel sluggish and slow.

Badminton is great entertainment. This sport is much quicker and more emphasis is placed on timing and accuracy. It’s easy to pick and play, it’s intuitive and fast. Badminton is easily one of my preferred sports to play in the game, and one me and my wife had the most fun.

Finally, there is Bowling which feels great, much like it has done since the earliest incarnation with Wii Sports Bowling back in 2006. With the Nintendo Switch JoyCon, you feel like you have more control than ever, allowing you to put a spin on the ball to create those special shots if needed. Bowling didn’t need much done to it to make it the best sport in the game, and thankfully Nintendo hasn’t messed around with it too much.

All of the games have a multiplayer component to the game, and this is the feature that is going to get you coming back more time and time again with Nintendo Switch Sports. I’ve been playing the sports with my wife and it’s always a good time, and some of the games have 1-4 player support, meaning the whole family will be able to join in. While multi-player offers some fun with other players, there’s little variation in the actual games to keep you playing for long play sessions. Granted, you may be likely to get tired of longer play sessions, but still… more variety and features could be added over time to make Nintendo Switch Sports more engaging.

Online play is available for the matches and it’s fun jumping into the games with players from around the world. This is a great feature, and one of the things I did was to catch up with players I used to play Wii Sports with back in 2006, only this time we’re online. I can imagine this is going to create some fun content for video game outlets, and it’ll be a decent game on Christmas Day with family members in different locations. It suffers the same setbacks as local multi-player, the game needs a little more variation or more games.

That’s it for the sports themselves, but there’s more when it comes to your avatar. We used to have the Mii’s, they are gone in favour of the Sports Mates. You can customise the hairstyles, and clothes colours, but otherwise, that’s about it when it comes to making your avatar your own. Many customisation options are locked behind the online play, meaning you’ll need to jump online to be able to access these features. Nintendo clearly are wanting players to get online, although it would have been better to have all customisation options available for all players. There’s also the concept of collections too, where not all cosmetics are available all at once, there are a rotation bunch of cosmetics available at one time, meaning you have to wait for the rotation to get everything. If you have played a live service game before, then you’ll be used to this concept, but if you haven’t it can feel a little jarring so be aware of that.

The graphics have had a major facelift and things look much better than in the Wii Sports days. The Sports Mates are more detailed and generally look better than the Miis. Nintendo Switch games sometimes feel like a lottery when it comes to performance, but Nintendo Switch Sports does well and maintains a decent 60fps throughout.

Overall, Nintendo Switch Sports is good fun. The game feels like a first iteration, with only a few sports on offer and limited online play options. Hopefully, Nintendo will rectify this over time, however, at the moment the experience is fairly barebones. That’s not to say the game isn’t fun, it definitely is, and getting friends and family together locally or online is the best way to enjoy Nintendo Switch Sports for sure. Bowling and Badminton are currently my top picks, but I’m also looking forward to what Golf has to offer when they arrive later in 2022.

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 30th April 2022