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Nintendo Switch Sports review: Fresh, yet familiar, and with a downside

Nintendo Switch Sports Chambara
(Image: © iMore)

Our Verdict

Bottom line: As a party game to play with friends and family and bring a group together, this is a good pick. For those who have played this style of game before, it is familiar with just enough twists of new elements. It's easy to learn to play without being too boring for experienced players. When it comes to solo play or online play, I think it will become redundant and dull quickly.

For

  • A few new modes to familiar games
  • New sports compared to Wii Sports
  • Simple but not too simple
  • Online play is family-friendly

Against

  • Some controls take some getting used to
  • Leg strap isn't used as much as expected
  • Mii accessories are used as a way to sell membership

Televisions, vases, windows, and other breakable living room objects, beware - Nintendo Switch Sports is here! All joking aside, the Wii Sports-inspired party game is out on Switch and, for me was a surprisingly entertaining game. When I first heard it was coming, I was fairly uninterested. It seemed like the novelty of being able to play a sports game by actually moving your body had worn off with all the tech changes made today compared to when the first instances of games like this came out.

However, after having actually played it, I'd say it's a welcome addition to my game collection, and I'll definitely be breaking it out when people visit. There are some familiar favorites for those of us who were around for the days of Wii Sports and new games and modes that make it exciting to get into. There are some choices that were made with the Miis and online play that have put a damper on the game for me, but I am interested to see how they continue to build on it to create a whole new experience out of a familiar space in games.

Nintendo Switch Sports: What I liked

Nintendo Switch Sports Bowling Special

Nintendo Switch Sports Bowling Special (Image credit: iMore)

There was no hiding the influence Wii Sports had on the development of Nintendo Switch Sports. Nintendo stayed true to an old favorite by keeping the Mii characters on the Nintendo Switch that really bring you into the game in a unique way and keeping the sports that were a big hit. The in-depth instruction on how the motions are used to play the individual sports has also held up to standards, making it easy for beginners to jump in and start playing without feeling behind. With the different experience levels a party game like this may be bringing in, this can be tricky to do well as Nintendo has done.

CategoryNintendo Switch Sports
TitleNintendo Switch Sports
DeveloperNintendo
PublisherNintendo
GenreSports, Party
Game Size3GB
Play TimeVaries depending on a number of rounds and game modes
Players1-4 Single System/1-2 Online
FormatDownload/Game Card
Launch Price$50

The biggest returning game is bowling, and that has come with a new game mode, Special. In Special mode, the lanes have an added obstacle that changes each frame. Walking the line of familiar but not overdone is also a difficult move to make.

The new sports added are even more exciting than the old sports' return! In addition to bowling and tennis, players now get to play soccer, badminton, volleyball, and chambara. My favorite of these is volleyball, hands down (or up?). I was initially concerned about making my way around in volleyball, getting lost in the moment, and accidentally roaming your living room and destroying it along the way. But volleyball was made much more simple, with the Mii moving across the court mostly automatically and the player focusing on the bump, set, and spike.

Nintendo Switch Sports Volleyball Serve

Nintendo Switch Sports Volleyball Serve (Image credit: iMore)

The Miis are customizable with new accessories available through online play. At first, with this being a game geared so strongly toward families, I was concerned about the online play aspect being required to earn new gear. But online play is set up in a safe and family-friendly way, where communication is restricted to a few sticker reactions, and it feels like playing AI. There's no chat and no voice discussion, so it's completely safe for children.

Nintendo Switch Sports: What I didn't like

Nintendo Switch Sports Mii Accessories

Nintendo Switch Sports Mii Accessories (Image credit: iMore)

While the setup for online play is child-friendly and great for people who are more hesitant to play online, it does come with a huge downside of not getting all the benefits without the Nintendo Switch Online membership. Without the membership, the number of accessories players can receive each week is restricted. During the first few weeks of launch, players could earn Simple Collection and Cute Collection items until May 10 and May 18; each collection has 12 items and a completion bonus item. This would leave many items not available to players without a membership and feels like a greedy grab to sell membership.

Additionally, with all the hype around the leg strap, I expected it to be used more. The only instance you need the leg strap in currently is for Shoot Out mode in soccer. The strap comes with the physical copy of the game or is sold separately for $10. In Shoot-Out mode, a referee kicks the ball your way and you have to kick it into the goal, the player who gets the most goals out of five wins. It's a very short game option, and I think they could have had other running or other control options for the leg strap, no only in other soccer modes but also in other sports on the game in general. It may become a bigger part of the picture as Nintendo adds more sports to the game, in which case this would be more worth having added the accessory.

Nintendo Switch Sports Soccer Kick

Nintendo Switch Sports Soccer Kick (Image credit: iMore)

In badminton and tennis, which are essentially the same as far as the controls go, the position of the Joy-Cons doesn't seem to make much of a difference in whether or not you make your shots. It's really more of a game of timing, which seems a bit off until you get used to it. The other control that threw me off is in bowling; you are supposed to hold the L2 or R2 through the throw instead of releasing it like you would an actual bowling ball. This may be an attempt to prevent people from breaking their TV by throwing their Joy-Con, but it feels unnatural, and I ruined many great throws by letting go of the button until I got used to that, too.

Nintendo Switch Sports: Should you play it?

Nintendo Switch Sports Hero

Nintendo Switch Sports Hero (Image credit: iMore)

If you were expecting this to be somewhat physically taxing and a fun way to exercise with motion controls, you may want to check out some of the other exercise games on Nintendo Switch. When it comes to playing this title solo, it doesn't really offer much beyond the first few matches, learning the controls and timing of everything. Also, without a Nintendo Switch Online membership, you may find yourself disappointed in the lack of ability to earn accessories for your Mii like everyone else.

However, if you're looking for something easy and entertaining to put on with some company in the home, this is a great addition to your Switch party games. It has a good variety of sports to play with fun new modes and a promising future of more to come.

Alex Huebner
Contributor

Alex has been working with iMore as a Freelance Gaming Writer for three years. You can also find a few articles of hers on Android Central and Windows Central. She regularly covers Nintendo Switch games and accessories as well as iOS game apps. In addition to the Nintendo Switch, you may also find her playing on the PlayStation and PC. When she doesn’t have a controller in hand she likes to spend her time with her husband, son, and dogs, exploring new places, or hiding away with a book (or comic book). A few of her favorite games include the Zelda franchise, Little Nightmares, and Animal Crossing.