It’s crazy when you think about the fact that Wii Sports released almost 16 years ago. If you’re over the age of 20, I’d almost guarantee that you’ve had at least one round (if not hundreds) of Wii Tennis or Wii Bowling. It was a huge part of the early 2000s, and it’s set to become big again with the soon to be released Nintendo Switch Sports.
Recently, we got to play all six sports and it probably isn’t a huge surprise but Nintendo has definitely managed to capture the brilliance that put it back on the map all those years ago. Obviously, since that time Wii Sports Resort has released, but I’d argue it was nowhere near as easy to pickup and play as Wii Sports and that’s what Nintendo Switch Sports absolutely nails.
Despite the fact that the motion controls are more precise, thanks to the technology in the Switch Joy-Con, all six of the sports at launch, Bowling, Tennis, Chambara, Soccer, Badminton and Volley Ball are insanely easy to pickup and play for even the most casual gamer.
Let’s get the two most obvious sports out of the way first. Tennis is largely the same as it was on the Wii, outside of prettier graphics and the ability to finesse even more spin thanks for the Joy-Con. It feels incredibly familiar, and as someone who honestly probably put 1000s of hours into the Wii version, I’m glad not much as changed as it felt just as good as it did back in the day. Playing alongside another journo, there was still some hugely intense moments that honestly couldn’t be replicated with any other game, and that’s what still makes this so special.
Bowling, just like tennis is also still largely the same experience, except for the fact that you can now bowl at the same time as the person next to you. Whilst the option to pass on the Joy-Con still exists, you can now both bowl frame by frame in split screen alongside the person playing next to you. Whilst it wasn’t present during this preview, there’s also a really cool elimination mode that will be available online at launch.
Chambara, whilst present in Wii Sports Resort, has changed a bit here, and it’s probably my least favourite of the games on offer. You’re able to play it with one or two Joy-Con and relies on you hitting your opponent out of the ring first, with the goal being to essentially waddle your controller quicker than them. There is a big of strategy there, with being able to block in certain directions to stop attacks, but the reality is, the first person to start swinging is more likely to win than the other. It’s still dumb fun, but I can’t see it having the same longevity as the other sports.
Volleyball, Football and Badminton are all totally new sports to the franchise, and they’re all fantastic. Soccer (or Football as it’s known in some countries) is something I see having really great longevity. There’s a shoot out mode where you need to use the leg strap in order to kick goals in, but the real meat is in the main mode which can be played in one-on-one or four-on-four matches. In this mode, you have full movement and it’s essentially Rocket League without the cars, in the sense that you’re all trying to kick a big ball in. It’s simple to play, but hard to master, just like Rocket League, and I can see this one having some real longevity.
Badminton is similar to tennis on paper, but requires a lot more strategy and quicker movements in order to win the points. I can see this being just as popular as Tennis as it’s just as easy to pickup but does require a little more thought. I’m particularly interested to see this one play out online.
Last, but not least, Volleyball probably has the most movements of any sport in Nintendo Switch Sports. The game expects you to spike, dig and set all with familiar feeling moments. I can really see this one being fun with a group of people too.
I’ll keep my final thoughts reserved until review, but I think that this game is obviously going to be a lot of fun in groups of people and will almost certainly be the instant hit the Wii Sports was, both from a nostalgic point of view, just because honestly, I can’t think of another game that is this universally fun for absolutely anyone to pickup and play.
I think that there will however, be a greater expectation on the online component this time around, and whilst I love what I’m hearing about Pro League and such, it’s too early to comment on that as I haven’t played it.