Checkpoint recently got the chance to preview Nintendo Switch Sports, the spiritual successor to Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort. We were a bit surprised that it took Nintendo this long to announce this kind of title, given how popular the series proved to be, but it’s better late than never. It’s got a new look, it’s got new technology, it’s got some new games, but at his heart, it seems to be the same old game. It’s like coming home!
Six games are available from launch: Tennis, Soccer, Bowling, Badminton, Volleyball, and Chambara (sword fighting). We got to try all of them: here are our thoughts so far!
“It might just feel like waggling your hand around wildly, but there’s a certain fun in that, isn’t there?”
The games that use hand-held objects are controlled using the Joy-Con’s gyro capabilities, which felt natural and intuitive – just like the Wii remote felt back in the day.
Tennis, Bowling, Chambara, and even the brand new Badminton felt comfortingly familiar, though it’s obvious the technology has improved since 2006. Most importantly, it was incredibly easy to learn how to play and jump right in. It might just feel like waggling your hand around wildly, but there’s a certain fun in that, isn’t there?
There is also quality of life and functionality improvements for the better. In Bowling, you are now required to hold onto the ZR/ZL trigger the entire approach, unlike in Wii Sports where you let go of the trigger to simulate letting go of the bowling ball. It does feel awkward at first but it will stop you from destroying your massive OLED 4K TVs. With the finger on the trigger, there is more grip and it’s less likely for that small, pesky Joy-Con to slip out of your hand without the wrist strap on (which it shouldn’t be but we all know you won’t use it). With all the menu and navigation changes, match setup options, and the new Spocco Square hub—this game is looking fresh!
Although we only got a brief amount of time with each game, our favourite of the bunch so far is Soccer. The ball is huge, making it slightly reminiscent of Rocket League. You specifically motion the Joy-Con in a way to kick the ball with a lob, low, or angled shot. For the daredevils, you can also swing the Joy-Con up and down quickly to perform a diving header.
We tried out the optional leg strap accessory in the shooter mode, which is a simple goal shooting minigame. It’s all about timing here, as the goals get smaller the better you perform. You might need a bit more space in your living room to use it, but in our experience, it worked great and was a smart idea to utilise the Ring Fit Adventure accessory again. We were told that the leg strap will also be functional with the main Soccer game following an update after release.
Instead of Miis, Switch Sports introduce Sportsmates, cartoony player characters that you can customise. (Don’t worry, you can still use Miis if you really want). The customisation options aren’t too many to begin with, but enough to choose skin, eye, and hair colour, as well as an approximate age group for your Sportmate. Accessories like hats, glasses, and different clothes can be unlocked the more you play, though unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any examples. It’s unknown how progression or unlockables will exactly work at this time, too. Oh well, it’ll be a nice surprise!
A clear facelift has been given to the Nintendo Sports realm, with plenty more colour and creativity. Instead of the traditional matches taking place on a pitch as you’d expect, Spocco Square is full of dynamic rooms with so much going on in the background. Chambara takes place over a large pool in the centre of a huge multistorey glass building with people walking around and enjoying a loungey cafe just out of frame. The bright and mixed environments are consistent with all six sports and it looks like the hardware is making use of the trademark Nintendo sheen.
Nintendo Switch Sports will release on 29 April 2022. We are keenly looking forward to trying the final version of the game and all of the options we didn’t get a chance to try. Watch out for our full review, which will be available closer to the release date.