Once upon a time the Apple TV came out and with it came Beat Sports. This was an honest effort for Apple to team up with rhythm game masters Harmonix to push some gaming content to their TV-box. Of course, the Apple TV was promptly ignored when it came to video games, and Beat Sports faded away with it. Not willing to let their idea go, Harmonix returns with Super Beat Sports, an updated rerelease of the game on a new console. Do these sports have a super beat, or should they once again be forgotten?
Super Beat Sports breaks evenly into five different rhythm mini-games, each vaguely based on different sports. The biggest and most fleshed out feature of the lot is the baseball-adjacent Whacky Bat. Here, you'll control your character as they move between lanes and smack baseballs back at the aliens throwing them at you. Naturally this is all set to a beat, with the 28 levels each using a different original song. It's pretty clear the most love went into this mode, as it has the best songs and is probably the most fun. At times feeling like a weird baseball-themed Guitar Hero, there's a simple joy to getting perfect hits from each ball. Each stage also ends with an encounter with Thro-Bot, which throws pitches at you in strange and stylized arcs. It's a neat extra challenge, one that really put my rhythm skills to the test.
Unfortunately, none of the other game modes are as good. Net Ball is a volleyball based sport that plays nearly identical to Whacky Bat. All you have to do is hit a button when the volleyball heads your way, with no movement involved this time. The mode lacks any interesting mix-ups like Thro-Bot, instead having you slowly play through 15 songs and only hitting A when you need to. It's not terrible, but it lacks the oomph needed to make a solid rhythm game.
It is, however, better than the shockingly boring Gobble Golf. More like a weird rhythm-based Simon Says, this mode has you smacking golf balls into the mouths of aliens. This mode is almost painfully slow, each stage taking way too long to even do the most basic stuff. Furthermore, it's rather unintuitive. What exactly you're supposed to be doing is never made that obvious, and it took me a few tries before I could actually figure out how the rhythm tied into this mode. Gobble Golf is Super Beat Sports' weakest game mode by far, and should be avoided.
While the other modes were all rhythm games, the final two modes are closer to competitive arcade modes. Buddy Ball and Rhythm Racket both support up to four players, allowing you to play either one on one or in a free for all. Buddy Ball is probably the more interesting of the two, having all four characters line up and smack a baseball back at three targets in order. The targets will then launch the baseball at the next person in line, at different speeds depending on which alien you hit, until someone misses it. As you play, you can smack the ball into power-ups as well, letting you screw with the other players. Rhythm Racket is closer to hockey, with the players knocking a puck around to try to score in other player's goals. It hits a really weird line where it's a bit too visually busy to keep track of what's going on, but bare enough that it doesn't feel like there's enough to do. These modes don't really have anything to do with rhythm gameplay, instead focusing on being local multiplayer competitive modes. Neither of them are bad, but they also both lack anything to make them stand out.
Like many rhythm games, Super Beat Sports is dependent on its soundtrack. All of the songs included in the game are original, and the game leans towards some light techno music. A few of the songs are worth tapping along to and I found the soundtrack decent enough to listen to while playing the game. It's just that by the time I finished playing the game I had forgotten nearly every song, and I'm sure I'll forget the rest a few days later. It's a bit disappointing when a rhythm game can't invest me in the soundtrack.
There's plenty of weird stylistic rhythm games available on the market, and Super Beat Sports attempts to join those games. Unfortunately, it just doesn't hit the mark. While Whacky Bat was fun enough, it can't carry the entire game and before long things just fall apart. There's other, better, entries into the genre if you really feel the need for such a game, and I can only really imagine Super Beat Sports attracting those who have exhausted every option.
Our Super Beat Sports review was conducted on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by the developer.
Super Beat Sports only really contains one game mode that is really worth playing, with the other four falling between "okay" and "boring".
- Whacky Bat Is Fleshed Out and Fun
- Buddy Ball is Fun in Short Bursts
- Net Ball is Just a Simplier Whacky Bat
- Gobble Golf is Simply Boring
- Rhythm Racket is Not Interesting Enough to Hold Attention