December 6, 2022

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Review: Nintendo Switch Sports Mostly Takes Familiar Swings

Nintendo Switch Sports, long-awaited by many, brings the classic motion sports from the Wii era to the company’s modern console. So how fun are the included sports? Let’s get into it.

Bowling

The first of the returning games, Bowling is largely how you remember it. There are no notable control changes or anything, so your enjoyment of Bowling is largely tied to how much you wanted to play the Wii version again. If you play locally, a split-screen approach does speed things up a bit? That’s something.

The big change? It’s the structure of online play. Taking a battle royale approach, players bowl three frames, trying to place in the top half of the scoreboard and keep playing. It’s a fun enough conceit, though we’re sure we’ll get shellacked by the competition after the first week or two.

Tennis

Similarly, Tennis is also basically the same game it once was. It’s a favorite, so we get the dev team not messing with the formula. It’s the most accessible of the six games, so it’s a good first play in a game session. It doesn’t get any new spins like Bowling’s battle royale, so… let’s move on!

nintendo switch sports bowling the one time i will ever win

Badminton

If you look at Badminton and think, “uh, this is just Tennis again,” we get it. The nuances of the sports themselves are hard to translate into the accessible Nintendo version. But to be fair to it? It’s trying some different things. Badminton is one-on-one only, and really relies on specific motion and hand angles. It has more granular tracking, for better or worse, and in theory, it should showcase player skill.

In practice? We found that it’s fairly easy to keep a volley going, and it ends when one player goofs up a swing bad enough to fall over. Some people may like it, but generally, it’s the most skippable of the bunch.

Volleyball

Oh, hey, here’s another one! Volleyball takes the same court setup of Tennis and… well, essentially adds quick-time event sequences? You have to set and spike in scripted sequence, simplifying the sport by cutting out the decision-making. The result is an event that feels more a part of Mario & Sonic than Wii Sports. It’s also mostly skippable, but it’s different enough that some may like it.

review volleyball wii

Chambara

It’s nice to see Chambara make an appearance here, as we’ve enjoyed it in its previous incarnations. A motion controller with modern accuracy works well with holding a sword, and it felt like Nintendo was thinking about it when it built out the mechanics of ARMS.

There are a few different weapons to choose: a simple sword, a weaker one that can charge, and a dual-sword scheme that uses two Joy-Con controllers. We’re sure expert players will get some utility out of a second sword, but in our decidedly amateurish play, we found more success focusing on one.

Soccer

By far the least accessible of the bunch, Soccer builds, well, an actual sport? The others are fun party activities, but with Soccer, we found ourselves actually coordinating and strategizing to make plays and position well on the pitch. The game’s Pro levels let you strive to be the best at any given sport, and some will find the grind meditative in other events. But this one? It feels like it may be worth it intellectually to play and compete.

This is a game that needs both Joy-Con to play. You move around with an analog stick, conserve a meter for dashing, and swing your hands to kick and perform headers. The leg strap, included in the physical edition and also available with Ring Fit Adventure, will let you kick! Uh, eventually. For now, it’s only functional in a single-player minigame. Honestly, the arm-kicking works fine enough anyway.

soccer is good review game

Online Play

For a Nintendo game? Yeah, Nintendo Switch Sports does okay with its online scheme. You can choose up to three sports to queue for faster matching. We didn’t notice many hiccups, even on a packed launch weekend.

And that’s good! Because Nintendo really seems to be pushing online as the default this time around. You can only earn customization items through online play, and it’s the first option in the main menu. While we still prefer offline for a room full of friends and family, bringing one compatriot with you for an online session can be quite fun.

Everything Else

If you want to use Miis, you can, but the new Nintendo Switch Sports avatars are presented as the preferred option. This makes sense, since the game’s online progression is tied to customization items for these characters. On one hand, we don’t love having to earn glasses and beards to look like who we are. On the other? They’re fun. The aesthetic splits the difference between Miis and Inklings well.

nintendo switch sports review customization items

It’s not a radical reimagining of the original Wii Sports, but Nintendo Switch Sports does a good job of translating a lot of the fun to a modern system. But the fun is largely about playing with friends. The three same-y court sports drag the collection down a bit, but we’re hopeful that the good parts will be augmented by further development support in the future.

Nintendo Switch Sports is out now on, well, the Nintendo Switch.