April 13, 2024


Like All Trades

We rank the best games in ‘Nintendo Switch Sports’

One of the smartest moves that Nintendo pulled off was packing “Wii Sports” with its unconventional console the Wii. It introduced motion controls to a new generation and broadened the appeal of gaming beyond the typical demographic.

Not everyone would understand the concept of “Super Mario Bros.,” but sports such as tennis or baseball come naturally. “Wii Sports” was intuitive and that translated gaming to a wider audience. Seniors enjoyed it as a way to stay active. Cops at crime scenes took a break for bowling.

Aside from its instant impact, “Wii Sports” had another effect: It established a new Nintendo franchise, one that fans remember, and the latest iteration of the series, “Nintendo Switch Sports,” received a boost from that recognition alone. Now on the current console, the project is a reminder of the magic of motion controls, except this time the smaller Joy-Cons replace the bigger Wii remote.

That takes some adjustments because the diminutive controllers won’t fit comfortably in all hands, and their size makes some sports work better than others. Players will find six activities in “Nintendo Switch Sports” — tennis, badminton, bowling, soccer, volleyball and chambara. A seventh one, golfing, is coming later via free download.

Competition has always been at the heart of the series. “Wii Sports” was a great party game and that still holds true for this sequel, which supports living room contests, but the bigger advancement is the online multiplayer that lets fans find suitable challengers across the globe.

Nintendo Switch Sports outfits
“Nintendo Switch Sports” lets players earn points that unlock outfits and other cosmetics so that they can stand out in comeptition. (Nintendo) 

Better yet, Nintendo included a type of progression system that grades players on their experience and gives them cosmetic upgrades to customize their Mii, avatars of emojis, which players use to express joy or sadness. Playing against online competition gains them points and that enables them to earn more gear.

With online play, players are never far from a sparring partner in chambara or a volleyball match. That’s a welcome change, but it also shows that not all sports in the game are created equal. Some are better than others. Here’s where you’ll have the most fun in “Nintendo Switch Sports.”

"NIntendo Switch Sports" features online play across all the activities it offers. (Nintendo)
“NIntendo Switch Sports” features online play across all the activities it offers. (Nintendo) 

1. Bowling — This staple returns and it’s better than ever. In the single-player mode, players will encounter a minigolf-esque mashup where players have to throw the ball through obstacles to hit the pins. That involves making tosses across bridges or rotating blocks. It’s a fun test of skill to throw a strike under oddball conditions.

That’s a nice diversion but players will spend most of their time in Survival Bowling. It’s a huge online competition where 16 players try to bowl for the highest score. During each round, the game accepts a smaller number of players based on score, and in the finals, the bowler with the highest score wins.

Online works smoothly and this is one of the most addictive modes because it’s easy to jump into and it gives players points more easily compared to other sports.

Soccer is one of the more expansive activities and includes a Shootout Mode and one with full team play in "iIntendo Switch Sports." (Nintendo)
Soccer is one of the more expansive activities and includes a Shootout Mode and one with full team play in “Nintendo Switch Sports.” (Nintendo) 

2. Soccer — This is the most complicated competition and requires two Joy-Cons. In a 4-vs.-4 match, players have to kick an enormous ball into the opposite goal. That’s easier said than done as players will swing their arms to kick the ball and press buttons to jump, dash and pass. Combine some moves together and players can perform maneuvers such as a bicycle kick.

The whole experience feels like a motion-control version of “Rocket League.” Players will chase after the ball that bounces off walls or comes off a foot wrong. Soccer has plenty of chaos built into its structure, but as soon as players adjust to the controls, they can get a better handle of the game and even have fun with their teams, which are easy to communicate with emotes and gestures.

If online competition isn’t your thing, players can go to the Shoot-Out Mode, in which players attach the Joy-Con to the leg strap to mimic kicking a ball into a goal. They take turns doing it, and it’s surprisingly fun though it doesn’t have too much depth. At best, it’s a fun party game

Nintendo Switch Sports Volleyball
Volleyball is one of the more enjoyable additions to “Nintendo Switch Sports.” (Nintendo) 

3. Volleyball — This is a sport where teamwork is vital, but unlike soccer, there’s more structure and a slower pace. At its heart, this is a game based on timing. Successful teams are able to dig out a ball and set it up for a teammate so that she can spike it. On defense, the front line player is important because they have to time their jump just right to block a spike.

As long as players react quickly and position their avatar correctly, they can knock up any ball, and from there, it’s a rhythmic setup for a retaliatory strike. If you dislike the frenetic pace of soccer, then this is the best sport to show off teamwork.

Badminton and tennis are two racket sports that have similar gameplay styles, and they're OK at best in "Nintendo Switch Sports." (Ninendo)
Badminton and tennis are two racket sports that have similar gameplay styles, and they’re OK at best in “Nintendo Switch Sports.” (Ninendo) 

4. Badminton, and 5. Tennis — These racket sports are so similar that they can bundled as group. The singular difference is that badminton is one on one and tennis supports up to four people but the game always features doubles. Even if one player goes up against a computer, they’ll control two characters on their side almost like in foosball.

That means each sport requires different strategies. With badminton, it’s about keeping opponents off balance by knocking shuttlecocks around the court while occasionally hitting drop shots. Tennis requires players to be more selective about their swings because it’s easier to hit a ball out of bounds. Both of these sports are OK, but they don’t move the needle like the other ones.

Nintendo Switch Sports swordplay
Although chambara looks great, in practice the combat sport isn’t so fun. (Nintendo) 

6. Chambara — This is essentially sword fighting, but the big problem facing this sport is that the controls never feel responsive. In the combat contest, players have to strike each other enough to force them off a platform and into a pool.