With the Nintendo Switch Sports release date behind us, players can finally get a hands-on feel for what many of us experienced on the Wii for the first time nearly 16 years ago. When playing for our Nintendo Switch Sports review, I took my time with each of the six available games at launch, measuring the sensitivity of the motion controls, checking the stability of the online functionality, and overall enjoying myself as I created and customized my humanoid sports figure – a wonderful upgrade from the Mii era. And only once did I almost throw my Joy-Con through my TV. Seriously, use a wrist strap if you've got one.
Nintendo Switch Sports Is a Callback to the Quirky Side of Nintendo
Nintendo Switch Sports harkens back to a time when the big hardware and software developers broke the mold with Wii motion controls. It's not the first time they went in their own direction, and it wouldn't be the last, but Nintendo Switch Sports is able to simultaneously capture the magic of those initial motion control titles while updating them to the modern-day.
The Wii Remote had a few key weaknesses, one of which was the inability to accurately map real-world movement to what was happening on screen, something the Joy-Con does a much better job at. When you're swinging a tennis racket or kicking a soccer ball, your motions on screen respond in a more organic way to what you're doing in the real world. This isn't without limitations, of course, but Nintendo Switch Sports overall offers a much more immersive experience than the original Wii Sports and even Wii Sports Resort ever did. Plus, this game includes a rewards system where you can earn points to unlock in-game cosmetics, making it more customizable to your unique tastes. There's even a pro league that you can join to rank up and play competitively if that's more your style.
Nintendo Switch Sports Games: The Good & The Bad
As of the Nintendo Switch Sports release date launch, there are six playable games in the collection:
Of these six, Tennis stands out as one of the stronger titles. The movement of your on-screen character is handled autonomously by the game, so your focus is solely on timing your strikes to get the tennis ball across the net (and preferably out of reach of the opposing players). Every game has an online component, and Tennis is so much more fun when playing against real people. Combine this with local 2-player co-op and friends, spouses, siblings, and family members can take on tennis enthusiasts across the globe without leaving their living rooms.
Soccer in Nintendo Switch Sports is also worth calling out, though it'll be better with a leg strap attachment so the Joy-Con can fit comfortably on your kicking leg. During my time with the game I used my arms, and though it works, it wasn't as fun or immersive. The soccer stadiums themselves feel like a cross between FIFA and Rocket League, with a comically large soccer ball and goal being your main set pieces. Your character can also sprint for short periods of time, turning this into a stressful foot race when you're racing to get control of the ball from the other team.
Nintendo Switch Sports Volleyball is another fun team sport, though I do wish you had more control over the movement of both your character and the ball. Still, setting up your teammate for a game-winning spike is incredibly satisfying. Bowling can put you up against multiple other online players in a tournament format, playing multiple rounds until there's a winner. Chambara makes good use of the Joy-Con as a sword, but definitely feels like a half-step to a full-blown sword game (in fairness, that's never what it was meant to be). And then there's Badminton. It was fun, but the most issues I had with motion controls were while playing this game. Maybe it's because the shuttlecock moves at such awkward speeds, so the timing is more difficult, but there were several games where I swung to hit the shuttlecock and my character just did nothing. Still, The translation of the motion controls to the Joy-Cons is impressive and works pretty well about 95% of the time.
How Does Nintendo Switch Sports Online Work?
This is going to sound strange being said about a Nintendo title: the Nintendo Switch Sports online capability is one of the strongest features of this game. Where Wii Sports kept you playing against AI opponents or people in the same room, the internet allows you a virtually endless pool of real-life opponents, making the gameplay much more dynamic. The game does warn you that it will occasionally pull in AI opponents if needed, but in my experience, it wasn't clear by their usernames who was a real person and who was AI. Once we started playing, however, it was pretty easy to spot if a real person was reacting to your moves or if it was the computer programming.
This creates a fun community, even if there's no real way to interact or communicate with the people playing the game with you. During one tennis match, there was a girl character in the front by the net and a boy character in the back. The boy character was getting most of the hits and overall playing pretty well, whereas the girl either wasn't swinging at all or would swing and miss. I could picture two siblings playing together, one of whom was clearly better at the game, or maybe even a parent introducing their young kid to a game that reminded them so much of their time with the Wii so many years ago. As the game went on, the girl character got better, and even scored a couple of points on me. I was actually weirdly proud of her. Its possible none of my imagined backstory is true, but connecting with others over something as simple as Nintendo Switch Sports definitely brought me more joy than I anticipated.
Our Nintendo Switch Sports Review | Final Thoughts
Nintendo Switch Sports absolutely delivers on what it promises to do. Some of the games, like Tennis and Volleyball, are overall more enjoyable experiences for me personally, but the diversity of the games available means this title could have far-reaching appeal to a wider audience. Plus, the possibility of future Nintendo Switch Sports DLC means that we could see additional sports added to this collection, such as when Golf will be made available this fall.
Overall, Nintendo Switch Sports is a really fun party game, plays fairly well, and even the online connectivity isn't that bad, though I did lose connection a few times during the course of playing for my review. Whether you want to play online with friends or even just have it available to play at parties or with family/roommates, Nintendo Switch Sports is a great addition to the Switch library.
TechRaptor reviewed Nintendo Switch Sports on a Nintendo Switch console with a copy purchased by the reviewer.
- Fun gameplay
- Local and online multiplayer
- DLC potential
- Occasional lack of precision with controls
- Internet connectivity issues