Top Rated

Nintendo Switch Sports Review | PCMag

Wii Sports took over the world in 2006. Nintendo’s motion-controlled sports package turned grandparents into virtual bowling pros, and helped the Wii sell more than 100 million units. The Nintendo Switch has already reached that lofty sales number, and now Nintendo Switch Sports ($49.99) hopes to pull an even larger casual audience. Although volleyball and a few other new additions feature disappointing motion controls, tennis and returning fan favorites showcase just how exciting it is to move your body while playing a video game. Given the proven potential, we hope Nintendo follows up on its plans to expand this sports game collection beyond the initial fun, but skimpy, six-game lineup.


Nintendo Switch Sports

Looking Fit

The original Wii Sports didn’t have much sense of place, but the follow-up, Wii Sports Resort, transported the competition to Wuhu Island, a tropical locale that later popped up in other Nintendo games. Nintendo Switch Sports sets its arcade sports activities at Spocco Square, which resembles a health spa /fitness hotel. It’s a little vague, but the natural environments housed inside glass arenas look fancy and luxurious. Like Wuhu Island, Spocco Square has an enjoyable sense of community and continuity; if you look into the crowd, you’ll see folks shopping when they aren’t cheering. Plus, Nintendo’s simpler art styles always shine in HD.

PCMag Logo

Nintendo Switch Sports lets you play as your Mii. You must import Miis you’ve already designed on your Switch system. You can also play as a new avatar: Sportsmate. It looks like a sportier version of, say, an Animal Crossing human. Sportsmates are a bit generic compared to Miis (especially in Miitopia), but they have increased customization options. Along with changing their appearance, you can also equip them with gear.

One way to unlock new gear is by participating in online multiplayer seasons and winning prizes. You can also compete against offline bots to earn a limited amount of swag if you don’t subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online. Online matches weren’t ready in time for the review, so we’re still not quite sure how well the netcode holds up. However, I didn’t experience connection issues during a tense, online bowling tournament. If you don’t take competition that seriously, the various CPU difficulty levels offer plenty of challenge.


Video Olympics

Wii Sports encouraged friends and family to get off the couch and swing the Wii remote like a tennis racket or baseball bat. Nintendo Switch Sports swaps the remote for a pair of Joy-Con controllers. Motion controls are mandatory to play, so don’t even bother buying Nintendo Switch Sports if you own a Nintendo Switch Lite. How do the experiences stack up? It depends on the game.

Tennis is arguably the most iconic Wii Sports game, and it holds up pretty well. The game wants you to perform big, exaggerated gestures to execute moves, which is fine if you’re playing at the back of the court. During my initial preview, this screwed up my timing while blocking close to the net. However, playing the final game, I found the one-to-one racket controls much more accurate and satisfying; they’re closer to what Wii Sports offers. Switch Sports’ motion controls are better than the swing modes in Mario Golf Super Rush and Mario Tennis Aces.

Badminton, which might seem redundant with tennis, feels even better. My character’s movements more closely matched my own, and I enjoyed tripping up my opponent with tricky drop shots. In fact, lengthy rallies resulted in a sore arm the next day. Badminton also removes the somewhat wonky doubles team setup from tennis.

Nintendo Switch Sports

Volleyball is another new game, and it separates itself from tennis and badminton by focusing on specific actions you perform at certain moments. The game cues you when it’s time to bump, set, spike, or block, and determines your technique’s power based on your timing. It’s a bit awkward, and you lose some of that direct connection when the whole game is essentially a quick time event. The payoff is immense when you find your groove, but even after getting better I never quite enjoyed the reliance on cues.

Swordplay returns from Wii Sports Resort. Satisfyingly accurate sword control lets you slash foes to break their guards, and knock them into the water. You must be fast and smart to exploit enemies’ weaknesses, while not leaving yourself vulnerable to attack. It feels fantastic, better than Skyward Sword. Different sword types cater to offensive or defensive players.

Bowling remains as fun and fluid. The biggest innovation is the battle royale mode. As you all bowl, players with the lowest scores are booted from the competition, turning each round into an endurance test to keep composure and stay alive. It makes every strike incredibly precious. Test yourself even further by activating wacky challenges, such as navigating twisting ramps and using your ball handling to circumvent gaps.

Soccer is by far the most involved game; it’s almost like a stripped-down take on Rocket League or the upcoming Mario Strikers. You control the camera as you guide your character with the analog stick, and swing the Joy-Con to kick low, high, or to the side. You can also perform diving headers, and conserve stamina for dashing across the playfield. I appreciate the ambition, but it’s a bit too complicated to be casual, and too basic to be a full game. For a simpler and more direct experience, you can leverage a leg strap to kick balls into the goal in a shootout mode. The kick timing has some lag, but it feels good.

The physical version of Nintendo Switch Sports comes bundled with the leg strap. However, if you already own Ring Fit Adventure, and therefore already have a leg strap, you might want to buy the game’s discounted, digital version for $39.99.


A Sporting Chance

Some Nintendo Switch Sports games are definitely better than others, but the biggest issue right now is lack of quantity, not quality. More sports are coming later this year as free updates, such as golf and an enhanced soccer mode with more leg strap support. However, without baseball, boxing, and basketball (not to mention all of Wii Sports Resort’s wackier tropical activities) Nintendo Switch Sports currently feels a little lacking. That said, Wii Sports wasn’t the most substantial game either, so if you’re one of the tens of millions of players who fell in love with that phenomenon, you’ll also dig Nintendo Switch Sports. 

For more recommended Nintendo Switch titles, check out The Best Nintendo Switch Games and The Best Nintendo Switch Games for Kids. For in-depth video game talk, visit PCMag’s Pop-Off YouTube channel(Opens in a new window).

Pros

  • Many intuitive, casual sports games

  • Customizable characters

  • Online multiplayer and progression

  • Budget price

View More

Cons

  • Not all sports available at launch

  • Some sports control better than others

  • Not compatible with Nintendo Switch Lite

The Bottom Line

Enjoy fun, casual spins on popular sports, such as soccer and tennis, in this motion-controlled game collection for the Nintendo Switch.

Like What You’re Reading?

Sign up for Lab Report to get the latest reviews and top product advice delivered right to your inbox.

This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe from the newsletters at any time.



Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button