Nintendo Switch Sports is the successor to the now 16-year-old Wii Sports, featuring some old favourites alongside new sports that you can dig your teeth into. With beautiful graphics that bring each sport to life and more intuitive motion controls than I’ve seen before, early signs suggest Nintendo has knocked it out of the park once again.
- UKRRP: £39.99
- USARRP: $39.99
Platforms:Available for the Nintendo Switch
Release date:29th April 2022
Coming in as the long-awaited sequel to the iconic Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, Nintendo Switch Sports brings in new sports and the best graphics I’ve seen in the series yet.
While the game won’t be coming out officially until 29 April, Nintendo invited me to its UK HQ to test out all the sports, and it’s safe to say that I was very impressed.
It’s worth noting that I didn’t get to play every sport for long enough to discover all the various modes, but I definitely got a good idea of how the controls worked and what the main aspects of each sport looked like. I also only played locally with another person on the Nintendo Switch, so I’ll have to wait to find out what it’s like to play online or against the AI.
So, without wasting any more time, here is how I got on playing Nintendo Switch Sports.
- Bigger learning curves than the old sports
- Impressive motion controls
- Leg strap mode for Football
For anyone unfamiliar with the Nintendo Sports series, there’s a collection of different games available, with options to play on your own, with friends and family or strangers online. The AI will take charge if you don’t have enough players, with options to change their difficulty level.
One of the biggest aspects of this game is the motion controls, as players will be using the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers to control their in-game character, with a wide variety of possible movements depending on what sport you’re playing.
I’m starting off with the three new sports that have been added: Volleyball, Football and Badminton. Volleyball and Football had the biggest learning curves of all the games, as you need to be running around using the analogue stick as well as using the motion controls, which can be a little trickier to control.
In Football, you use the analogue to run around the pitch and swing the controllers to kick the ball, with the chance to dive headfirst if you swing both controllers down at the same time. The movement itself was quite comical, though I do think the motion controls were less specific here as sometimes you would swing right, and your character would take a hard left kick.
Football was slightly more tedious for me compared to the other sports, as I spent the first playthrough getting used to the controls and running around the pitch, with the timer going into overtime since nobody managed to score. I struggled to accurately pass the ball to teammates as the motion controls were not specific enough, so I had to hope that a wild right kick would send the ball in the right direction.
After playing a normal match, I tried out the Soccer Shoot-Out mode that requires you to strap a Joy-Con controller onto your leg to take some free kicks. Again, the accuracy was a little underwhelming, but I did manage to hit the ball into the back of the net a few times, despite the goal shrinking every time I scored a point.
If I were to play Switch Sports again, I doubt I would go into Soccer Shoot-Out, just as it’s a little too barebones at the moment, while the leg strap isn’t useable in any other game mode. However, Nintendo did mention that the leg strap will be useable in other sports and modes at some point in the future.
Volleyball was up next, and probably the one I found the most difficult. You learn how to pike, jump, volley and block, but it’s remembering when to do each move that tripped me up a few times. The motion controllers here were a lot better, since you didn’t really need to aim your shots as much with timing being far more important.
You can use the analogue sticks to move your character, but most of this sport focuses on your hand-eye coordination skills, as you need to raise your controller upwards to block an incoming shot and quickly slam your hand down to attempt a spike. The actual gameplay here was a little slower compared to the other games, as you’re waiting for the ball to get into position. It was sometimes hard to know whether I should be jumping or piking, but I did start to learn the patterns of play and how I should be interacting with the other player on my team.
We played Volleyball with two people on one team, but you can also play it on your own and control both characters, although I didn’t get to test that out.
Out of the new games, Badminton was easily my favourite, and I was pleased with how different it felt to play Tennis. There’s a larger focus on speed too, as it’s a lot more fast-paced than Volleyball, which I personally prefer.
You use the analogue stick to move and you can swipe at the shuttlecock with a Joy-Con. It was really satisfying to fake out your opponent with a drop shot and then smack the shuttlecock to the back of the court. The controllers were extremely responsive here, to the point where I could really take aim with each shot, which was overall more satisfying.
But there is less nuance here compared to other new sports, since the motion controls are so simple, which I think also made it feel a lot more accessible for a younger audience.
Tennis, Bowling and Chambara
- Great recreations of the original sports
- Simple but effective
- Multiple ways to use the controllers in Chambara
Tennis, Bowling and Chambara are also playable on Nintendo Switch Sports, with very similar functionality to what was available on previous Wii Sports games, while also featuring easier motion controls than the newest sports.
In Bowling, you can control the direction of your ball by twisting your wrist as your avatar lets go of the ball. While I wasn’t great at this, I could tell how the ball would veer left as my wrist tilted left, and as time went on I got better at using the motion controls to my benefit.
I only played through the regular mode for bowling, though there is another ‘Special’ mode, which introduces new obstacles and makes it harder to reach the pins. Even though I didn’t manage to play this mode, it seems to be a fresh take on Bowling and a great way to test out the true capabilities of the motion controls.
Tennis is a similar story, in the sense that the game acts and looks a lot like it did the first time. Unlike Badminton, you don’t use the analogue stick here at all, so the only movement needed is in the swing of your racket. While simple in practice, it does take some fine-tuning, as you have to learn the perfect time to strike without missing the ball altogether, and constantly swinging the controller back and forth doesn’t really work either.
Compared to Badminton, Tennis puts more emphasis on timing, with the option to use your front or back player to create the perfect shot. While this was slightly less entertaining than Badminton, the mechanics still work great and it was really easy to work up a competitive attitude as you develop a rally. The slower pace of this game also makes me think it would be better for a younger audience, or anyone wanting a more relaxing game.
Finally, coming in as a very close second to Badminton is Chambara. Anyone who played Wii Sports Resort will be familiar with Chambara, even though it was previously called Swordplay. In this game, you don’t use the analogue stick, only the motion controls. Since you’re trying to hold your sword in specific directions, the motion controls here felt slightly less accurate, though you could easily recalibrate your controller during the game.
The premise here is very simple, just hit your opponent enough times that they fall off the podium. You can block by holding down ZL/ZR, and swinging your controller in a specific direction will land a hit. If you hit your opponent while they’re successfully blocking, your player will bounce back and leave you open to attack.
I loved the blocking mechanic, as holding your sword vertically won’t protect you from a side hit, allowing me to fake out my opponent or quickly change my blocking stance throughout the game. This was a lot more fun than if you could just block every attack by simply pressing a button.
Pulling off a successful blocks will also charge up your sword, allowing you to hit your opponent even harder. You can can turn off this feature by opting for standard mode, while the double mode sees you wield dual swords.
Even though we’ve seen these sports before, Nintendo managed to bring them back with a new finish and better motion controls in general. While it would have been nice to see six new sports, it was a great nostalgia trip getting to bowl again. Plus, the older sports are a little bit more simple, which may make them better choices for any younger players.
All six of these aforementioned sports will be available to play at launch, while a Golf mode will also arrive via an update in Autumn 2022. I sadly wasn’t able to try out Golf, but I assume it will be very similar to the previous iteration on Wii Sports.
Graphics and character customisation
- Vibrant and interesting backgrounds
- Lots more personality than the original
- The ability to make your Mii your own
It’s clear that Nintendo has come a long way since 2006, which is no doubt aided by the power of the Switch. All the sports are set in aesthetic and interesting environments, with Chambara taking place in what seems to be a spa, giving the game a lot more personality. The colours were all vibrant, with brilliant green plants on show during Volleyball, and the updated and detailed Mii characters wandering around made it feel like I was in some sort of virtual gym.
Making up for the lack of Mii characters on the Switch, you have the choice to create your own avatar. There are multiple options when it comes to your facial features and how your body looks, with Nintendo revealing that once you start playing online, you can unlock even more customisation options.
You can even alter the body of your avatar, but some sports (like Bowling or Chambara) obscure your character’s torso during gameplay, which did slightly lower my interest in creating a cool looking character. That said, I still really appreciated the opportunity to personalise them and gain more options as a reward for playing online.
Since Nintendo is now so synonymous with beautiful game design, with titles like Breath of the Wild coming to mind, it’s great to see those ideals moving over to what could be a simplistic game. It adds to the overall tone and makes the game feel much bigger than it would with blank and beige backgrounds.
Even though I didn’t get that long with Nintendo Switch Sports, I loved almost everything I played and really can’t wait to get stuck back in. The graphics and animations look great and make the whole game feel larger, with sports backgrounds bustling with colours and movement.
I think Nintendo made the right call adding in three new sports and sticking to the old favourites for the rest. Not only do the old sports look great, but it’s a fantastic nostalgia trip for those old enough to remember the original, and probably a lot easier for younger gamers to pick up.
The new sports are also stunning, with distinctive motion controls that set them apart from what we’re familiar with. I fell in love with Badminton and will definitely be picking up my racket the moment the game launches.
Nintendo Switch Sports includes the following games at launch: Badminton, Football, Volleyball, Tennis, Bowling and Chambara. Golf will also be added via an updating in Autumn 2022.
Yes, you can play with friends (or the AI) offline, just like with Wii Sports.