Nintendo Switch Sports (Switch), REVIEW – Hits and Misses
You’re ready to put down your iPod and listen to Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’. Before you log into twitter.com, it’s time for you to get out your capris.
Although sixteen years may have passed and we may be less spry than we once were, the Nintendo nostalgia machine will not let that stop them. How have technological advances over the past 1.6 centuries facilitated the development of virtual, motion-controlled sports?
While the Wii Sports original was a tech demo that showed off the motion controls of the Wii, and Wii Sports Resort was an example of the Wii Motion Plus peripheral’s added sensitivities, Switch Sports arrives five years into the Nintendo Switch’s life, without any new peripherals or motion technology. Switch Sports, it seems, is only here for the love of the game.
Switch Sports offers six sports at launch: tennis, badminton, and volleyball; bowling; football (or soccer in the USA); and chambara (swordplay) as previously shown in Wii Sports Resort. The golf game will be updated later in the year. However, each of the six existing sports has its own charms and quirks. It is strange to see the missing highlights of the original Wii Sports like boxing and baseball. Like boxing, soccer requires that each player uses two joy-cons simultaneously. However, we will continue to play without these beloved favorites.
All three new sports, badminton and soccer, can easily be incorporated into the existing sports. Badminton is different from Tennis because it has a smaller playing field, 1-v-1 matches, faster response times, and a shorter time to play. Although it shares many similarities with tennis, badminton feels like it could be given to another sport.
Volleyball is my favorite of all the new options. Switch Sports’ volleyball is also played in 2-v-2 matches. You will need to be able to juggle the basic moves of volleyball, such as a bump, set spike, spike, and block depending on where you are and what your teammate does. Volleys can last for a while and the back and forth between teams and within each team is exciting.
Football is the most complicated and complex of all sports. Contrary to other sports, where you can move wherever you want to as long as you respond in time, football requires you to manually maneuver your avatar across the field and jockey for control over the large ball. Motion controls allow you to adjust the angle and mode of your kick, as well as buttons that allow you to sprint forward (with a small stamina bar), or pass the ball on to your closest teammates.
There are also additional challenges for certain sports, such as an obstacle course, gauntlet, or side mode in bowling called Shoot-Out. In this mode, you can use the Leg Strap from Ring Fit Adventure to simulate shooting at a goal. The Leg Strap will be available in the football mode, but shoot-out is the only one that requires it.
Switch Sports not only brings back motion-controlled mini-games in sports but also revives the exquisite aesthetic of Wii Sports Resort and Wii Sports. Spocco Square is an island paradise that hosts the entire game. Each main sport has its amphitheater. These areas have striking details that make them feel alive and vibrant. There are lush tennis courts, an indoor volleyball court with sterling play, and a bookstore/coffee shop in the back. I would be willing to pay a lot of money to see these places.
The most exciting thing about Wii Sports music, at least for me, is its return, baby. In a new arrangement, the joyful, lilting pianos of the original Wii Sports theme have been revived. Each sport has its own theme, which is refreshing on hot days. The volleyball theme’s ethereal, almost-vaporwave energy, the chamber’s vague gestures at samurai film scores, and the jazzy tune of bowling make idle moments fun and frenetic moments manageable. Although Kazumi Totaka, Wii Sports’ composer, didn’t make it back for this game, Takuhiro Honda and Haruko Torii have been great at creating new compositions which feel as vibrant and exciting as the older games.