The Nintendo Wii was released on December 8, 2006. Intuitively, this was about three centuries ago, but in reality… well, over fifteen years ago anyway. The Wii laid the foundation for the way Nintendo still uses motion controls on the Nintendo Switch today. One of the games that put the Wii-Motes swing and swing on the map was Wii Sports. The game came with the Wii, so everyone enjoyed this game. In many living rooms in Holland and abroad, the necessary fights with boxing, bowling and tennis matches were fought as if the Wimbledon final was taking place on the spot. The game proves that Nintendo has something of value on their hands with its motion controls. This was further emphasized when the later Wii Sports Resort appeared, which used the Wii MotionPlus, greatly improving motion tracking.
After the Wii came the WiiU, a somewhat different console that didn’t quite fit the concept that made Wii Sports a success. It took until 2022 before a new version was released. The Joy-Cons on the Nintendo Switch turned out to be quite suitable for this. You might even wonder why it took so long. When we were able to start using the Switch for the first time in January 2017, we actually had to play all kinds of games for which the potential in this area was clearly visible. The function that Wii Sports had for the Wii for the Switch was accomplished by 1-2-Switch, but that game’s simple mini-games didn’t have nearly the same effect as Wii Sports. So, it’s up to the successor to that game, Switch Sports, which releases this week, to revive the glory days of the Nintendo Wii.
Switch Sports is basically a game that contains six mini-games, in the form of various sports. There is little. Wii Sports only had five, but the Wii Sports Resort had thirteen. Nintendo has already announced that a seventh sport will be added with golf in the fall, but the offer remains limited. This is a shame, especially when you consider that many of the popular sports from the old games were not represented this time around. Boxing from Wii Sports, for example, is no longer available and table tennis, which was still very popular at Wii Sports Resort, is also missing. What you can play: soccer, volleyball, tennis, badminton, bowling, chambara, which is basically a sword fight.
The most enjoyable game depends on personal preference, as well as how you play it. Most games can be played with only one Joy-Con, but football is an exception. You need both Joy-Cons or one controller for this, so if you want to play them together locally, you need two full sets. For all other sports, one set is enough if you do not want to play with more than two players. It also immediately means that there will be enough people who can’t play football together locally which is quite a shame. We also couldn’t help feeling that player control in soccer could have been simplified into a single Joy-Con.
Despite that caveat, soccer is one of our favorite Switch Sports. You can choose one against one or four against four. The first is a little boring, but of course it is very interesting together in the living room. The ability to play online ensures that you can play with more players at the same time and there is of course a lot of potential. A nice addition is that the Switch Sports comes with a leg strap, so you can attach the Joy-Con to your leg. If you have purchased Ring Fit Adventure, you already have such a band. With the band you can make the football more “realistic”, but does it add too much? Just waving your hands and arms gives better results in our opinion, but immersing yourself in the sport you’re playing just makes Switch Sports a lot more fun. You can sit on the couch and simply make moves with your Joy-Con or you can fuse and jump as the volleyball player jumps up for a block. This way you also have a gentle exertion on your own and this makes the experience more intense.
While playing soccer, you learn that you have different kicks and that you can give the ball a little direction. In practice, we were only able to shoot very accurately, which made matches a bit tricky, in part because you also somewhat miss an overview. This effect plays a much smaller role in other games; The work is always there for you. Tennis and badminton probably need no explanation here. Your movements are simulated on the screen and in the game of tennis you can give a certain effect by using the action buttons. The simulation doesn’t go deep enough to accurately translate your swing into the game. For example, you don’t expect to be able to make great shots and we didn’t get the ball in the way we hoped. For this reason, these sports also disappoint us a little. You also don’t have to walk by yourself, which also removes some potential depth.
This depth can be found in other games a bit more. In this way, bowling allows you to play with effect as usual. Here too, the option to play online gives an extra dimension, because you can play with a whole group of players at the same time, without having to wait for each other. You can also do it locally, but waiting for each other and watching each other’s throws is of course much more fun than if you were playing online. The bowling control score is a plus point: We tossed neat curves or straight balls in no time, to complete spares. Since timing and response don’t play a role here, this is a game that anyone can play. Thus, bowling will reclaim its place in the living room with Switch Sports.
Volleyball and definitely sword fighting is more difficult for inexperienced players. Volleyball is still fine. The game works according to a fixed pattern: one player catches the ball, the other player gives a cross and the first player hits the ball to the other side. If you do it at the right timing it will give the ball extra momentum and if every move in attack is played perfectly then smashing becomes almost unacceptable unless you are right and catch the ball at the right time, but the latter is very difficult. This makes volleyball one of the most challenging games due in part to its fun to play.
Then it remains chambara, or sword fight. This is a single player game where both players of course have a sword and stand on a circular platform with water underneath. The goal is to crush your opponent in the water and practically do it by hitting him several times in a row with your sword. Your opponent can prevent this by hitting you first or blocking your attacks. This works on the principle that an attack can be stopped by an opposing movement. You prevent a vertical strike by keeping your sword in a horizontal position and vice versa. This requires you to quickly anticipate and timing what your opponent will do when you launch your attack. This probably makes Chambara the toughest match of the six. Hitting alone is easy, but you will not be able to beat an experienced player so easily.
Compared with Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, Switch Sports is clearly taking a step forward from a technical point of view, but the graphic style is still simple. It works well enough and looks cheery, without really impressing. On a technical level, the real profit is, of course, in online mode, which has been mentioned many times. You can play against friends online, or face off with random people and compete to enter the Pro League. This aspect of the game didn’t work during testing, so it’s too early to say how dangerous all this is. In theory, good players will be able to add an extra item to Switch Sports here.
Coexistence seems to be the main point of the game. Switch Sports is of course a video game, but you should see it more like a board game. It’s a product that you stand out when you have friends. The table where you would normally play for 30 seconds, Catan or Ticket to Ride now makes room for some space so you can run, play tennis, or sword-fight against each other. It remains a pity that there are no more different sports and in some sports we lack some depth and control, but this does not really matter: these factors are the same for everyone and the game will not be there during a fun evening with friends or family. If you play this alone, you’ll be glad you can play online, but Switch Sports is losing its appeal for single players pretty quickly. As a modern and active team game, Switch Sports can be a hit, although its fifty-euro price tag is quite exorbitant, especially when you consider how little content the game actually contains.
Our homemade screenshots turned out to be of such low quality (pixelated) that we exceptionally chose official Nintendo screenshots, as they turned out to be more representative of quality during gameplay.
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