Thank you Nintendo for sending us a physical copy of this game to review!
Nintendo’s Wii was a revolutionary console that had motion sensors in its hand controllers (Wii remotes). Wii Sports came bundled with the system and showcased its features nicely. The five sports included in that title were Baseball, Bowling, Boxing, Golf, and Tennis. Nintendo Switch Sports brings back Bowling and Tennis. Golf will be added in the fall as a free update. Volleyball and Soccer are unique to Nintendo Switch Sports. Gamers familiar with Wii Sports Resort will be familiar with the Chambara/Swordplay.
You can play Nintendo Switch Sports offline with up to four players. If you want to play online, you’ll have to have an active Nintendo Online Subscription. Unfortunately, only two players can play online at a time. While playing online, you may be playing against sixteen players or bots. With the generic names of your opponents, it’s hard to tell at first.
When you first launch the game you’ll get to set up your character and can construct their nickname by combining two drop down lists of family-friendly words together. The default option is “Rookie”. You can customize your character’s appearance by selecting their hair, eye, and skin color. You can’t designate their gender, but you can select their body or import a pre-existing Mii character.
Once your character is created, you can choose to play offline or online. The first time you play any of the six sports games, you’ll go through a tutorial to learn the various moves. You’ll be reminded to wear your Joy-Con strap to avoid possible injury or damage. Your first match for any of the games will pit you against bots. If you play offline the computer opponent's strength can be set to Normal, Strong, or Powerhouse.
Here’s the list of games available to play:
Badminton – Only one controller is required to play badminton. It should come as no surprise that two players are required to play. The controls are quite simple with just needing you to swing your controller holding arm up, down, left, or right. Before playing any match you’ll have to calibrate your Joy-Con and specify if you’re right or left-handed. The first player to five points, wins.
Bowling – Survival bowling is a fun concept where the bottom few players are eliminated after each round. I have no doubt that the other fifteen players were bots as they failed to accumulate more than fifty points throughout ten frames. I easily scored over two-hundred points with the simple controls that have you centering your position, holding the controller by your chest, and then swinging it as if you were throwing a bowling ball. I found it pretty easy to get strikes and spares. In real life, I’m happy to score over 100 points.
Chambara – Your first decision in this sword fighting game is to choose your weapon of choice. You can use a sword, a charged sword, or twin swords. Two controllers are required for dual wielding. Charged and normal swords need only one Joy-Con. Two players are required to make a match. You’ll have to learn how to attack and defend in order to stun your opponent and ultimately knock them into the water. Matches are pretty quick and if no one is knocked out in time, it will end in a draw. The first to win two out of three matches, wins the game.
Soccer – If you have a physical copy of the game you can use the included leg strap to use realistic kicking motions. Eight players are needed to begin a game. To succeed you’ll need to learn how to kick and control the ball. The direction of the kicked ball is determined by the way you swing the Joy-Con. By swinging both arms down you’ll do a head dive. Matches last three minutes and if a goal isn’t scored by then, the first goal will deem that team victorious.
Tennis – While four players are present, you’re controlling both on your side! The controls are straightforward with swinging to hit the ball as it's in your proximity. The first team to seven points wins.
Volleyball – One controller is required to play this game. You’ll learn how to bump, set, jump, spike, and block the ball. Your timing will be rated as being early, late or “Nice!” Four players are needed to get a game going. Five points are needed to win the game.
As you play the games online, you’ll accumulate points for various feats. For every one hundred points, you can unlock a themed accessory. You can unlock cosmetic things like outfits, sports equipment, and special effects. New items are added every week. It’s a shame that these add-ons are pay-walled behind the Nintendo Online Subscription service.
Nintendo Switch Sports is family friendly. There’s sports violence, but no blood. Players can express themselves with reaction emojis during and after gameplay. Player names are family-friendly as well since they’re limited to specific words.
If you have fond memories of Wii Sports, you’ll appreciate what Nintendo Switch Sports has to offer. Like many games, it’s best enjoyed with friends and family. There's a limit to four players offline. There are some repeat games so if you’re looking for something completely different, you’ll be disappointed. However, if you’re looking to re-live your Wii Sports bowling days, you’ll be satisfied.