This Nintendo Switch Sports review has been a long time coming. It follows on from the iconic Wii Sports game, which believe it or not was released 16 years ago!
Since the Nintendo Switch was first launched in 2017, we've been patiently waiting for a successor to the throne, and five years later Nintendo has finally given the people what they want. It looks set to be one of the best Nintendo Switch games in 2022.
Nintendo Switch Sports is basically a series of mini-games that you can play by yourself, with family and friends or online. A combination of old and new it's definitely a bit of a throwback, but there have also been some major improvements and upgrades to it so it doesn’t feel out of place in 2022.
Fan favourites like tennis and bowling have made a return, while four new games have also been added to the mix, those being volleyball, badminton, football and chambara sword-fighting. We’ve heard that golf could be coming to the game in a software update further down the line as well.
Unfortunately, when I first tried Nintendo Switch Sports, online play wasn’t available yet so I'll update this review with more on that when it becomes available.
Nintendo Switch Sports review: review video
Nintendo Switch Sports review: price and release date
- What is it? A series of mini-games based around popular sports. You can play by yourself, with family and friends or online.
- Release date? April 29, 2022
- What platforms can I play it on? Nintendo Switch
- Price? $39.99 / £30.99 / AU$56 (digital), $49.99 / £39.99 / AU$70 (physical game with bundled leg strap)
Nintendo Switch Sports review: what is it?
Nintendo Switch Sports is made up of a series of mini-games including Volleyball, Badminton, Bowling, Football, Chambara and Tennis. Set in Spocco Square, a virtual sports complex, each game has its own building resembling a gym that you can visit with your character otherwise known as a Sportsmate.
When you play online, you’ll grow through the rankings to unlock the Pro league, starting from an E rank you can grow up to an A with a bit of hard work. In doing so, you’ll also unlock new customisation options for your Sportsmate.
Nintendo Switch Sports review: how does it play?
To play Nintendo Switch Sports by yourself or with a friend, you'll need at least one set of Joy-Cons, and you’ll also need a leg strap to play the Shoot-Out game. If you don’t already have one, it comes bundled with the physical copy of the game or you can buy it separately.
When you first go to play the game, you'll need to create your own personalised character, otherwise known as a Sportsmate. Each Switch user can have their very own Sportsmate or you can play as a guest.
A big step up from the Wii, there are a lot more customisation options than before in designing your character. Choose a face shape, eye shape, eye colour, hairstyle, hair colour and eyebrow shape then add other facial features like freckles or a beard. You don’t get that many choices of each which is a shame but you'll still be able to create a decent likeness.
Once you’ve made your Sportsmate, you’ll then need to pick their outfit and accessories. When you first set up your character you only get two different outfits to choose from which come in four different colours each and there aren’t any accessories, but you can win more when you play the game against online opponents.
If you’re feeling nostalgic, instead of creating a Sportsmate, you can also upload your Mii character. Go to your Nintendo Switch system settings to create or transfer them.
Once your Sportsmate is ready, it's time to get playing! You just need to pick a sport from the Spocco Square home screen, choose how many players want to join in and set up the controllers accordingly.
I'll start off by talking about the most intuitive, or in other words easier Nintendo Switch Sports games: bowling, tennis and badminton. Bowling and tennis were both featured on Wii Sports and they work in almost the same way here so they're very easy to pick up. Badminton might be a new game but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out because it's very self-explanatory.
In bowling, you throw the ball to try and knock down the 10-pins at the end of the lane. Before you do, you need to pick the right angle by rotating and moving your character from side to side. The way you hold and twist the Joy-Con will also have an impact on where the ball goes.
When you're ready to throw the ball you need to hold down the ZL trigger button and swing your arm to release it. Unlike on the Wii, you have to hold down that ZL button the whole time, instead of releasing it as you throw it.
You're most likely to play 'standard' bowling which lets you compete against up to 4 people at once. You can either take it in turns or to speed things up, play the game simultaneously (as long as the Switch console is in TV mode). There’s also an option to play 'special' bowling by yourself where you have to dodge obstacles placed along the lane.
Bowling was always my favourite on Wii Sports and nothing has changed, I still enjoyed it the most out of all six sports on Nintendo Switch Sports. It was great to be able to direct the ball with motion capture as well as the controls - once you've figured out the knack for it you're sure to become a Pro.
Tennis can be played with up to four people at once, although no matter how many people are involved, you only get the choice to play doubles.
Choose to go on a team with a friend or on a team against a friend, or alternatively, you can play against a CPU at three different strengths. Before you start the match you also have to decide how long you want to play for between a single match, best of 3 or best of 5.
The gestures you use for tennis are very straightforward. Swing the Joy-Con upwards and then down to serve, swing to the right-hand side to hit a forehand and swing to the left-hand side to hit a backhand. The direction you swing the Joy-Con in will have an impact on where the ball ends up.
For the most part, the gesture controls seemed to work pretty accurately but it sometimes didn’t quite pick up the direction I was trying to hit the ball in. The main trick with tennis is timing so if you hit the ball at the right time then you're unlikely to fail.
You'll need to use the analogue stick to move your Sportsmate around the court which does make it feel more challenging especially when you're in control over both the players on your side of the court.
Badminton works very similarly to tennis but you can only play with a maximum of two people at once. It’s actually easier overall because you don’t need to worry about moving your Sportsmate around the court, just about hitting the shuttlecock on time.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing badminton and would even go as far as to say that it was my second favourite game in Nintendo Switch Sports.
Volleyball, football and chambara are the hardest games on Nintendo Switch Sports because there are a lot more actions to remember. Luckily, before you play each one, the game will take you through a detailed tutorial on what you need to do. If you need to go through it again, you can redo the tutorial at any time by clicking on the options menu.
To play volleyball, you need to remember how to bump, set and spike, while switching roles with your teammate. The actions are simple: bump with a small swipe upwards, block by pushing your hands towards the sky, jump by swiping upwards and then swing the controller down to spike.
Once I got the hang of it, volleyball wasn’t as exciting as I expected it to be, especially given the fact that the game tells you which action you need to do next. It was a quick game that doesn’t really allow for much in the way of tactics.
Football on the other hand was much more interesting. It’s played with a Joy-Con in each hand and reminded me a lot of Rocket League, just more simplistic. Annoyingly to play with two people you’ll need two sets of Joy-Con controllers.
The analogue stick on the left controller is used to move your Sportsmate around the pitch, and the ZL trigger will speed things up. You'll need to do all that while swinging your right hand up, down, left and right to kick the ball, or waving both hands down at once for a diving header.
It took me a bit of time to get accustomed to using both hands for different things at the same time, but once I did, I actually found it really fun. My favourite move had to be the diving header because it’s just so ridiculous, your Sportsmate jumps up into the ball and then faceplants the floor, pushing the ball straight ahead.
Another football mini-game on Nintendo Switch Sports is Shoot-Out. To play it, you’ll need the leg strap. It’s easy to put on, you just wrap it around your leg facing forwards and then slide one of the Joy-Cons behind the netting.
During the game, a football will be kicked in your direction and you need to kick it into the goal which gets smaller each time you score. You literally kick with your leg to play this game. While it is very fun at first, it’s quite repetitive so you’re unlikely to play it over and over again. Admittedly it does feel like a bit of a gimmick at this stage because it’s the only sport so far that uses the leg strap.
Last but not least is chambara, a style of Japanese sword fighting. The aim of the game is to knock your opponent off the podium and into the water using either a basic sword, a charge sword or twin swords.
This sport is mostly focused on defence so to win you have to block the other person's move by crossing swords and then hit back without being blocked yourself. You need to keep a keen eye on what direction the opponent is waving their sword in throughout the whole game if you want to become an expert.
Chambara is likely to be one of the most popular sports but sometimes the motion tracking could be a little off which meant I sometimes hadn't successfully blocked a hit when I thought I had, but it’s very easy to reconfigure it, you just need to point the Joy-Con at the centre of the screen and press X.
Nintendo Switch Sports review: how does it look and sound?
Nintendo Switch Sports looks fantastic. Bright and colourful, it feels full of energy and the graphics pop out from the screen. Spocco Square is a well-thought-out location with tonnes of finer details to look out for, covered in plants and trees with ponds, pools, cafes and a skyscraper city backdrop - it really is stunning.
Loads happens in the background of each sport, way more than you ever got on the Wii. People are wandering around, sitting on the sidelines and cheering you on. You’ll also see other buildings through the windows, lifts going up and down, the shadows of clouds as they pass by and even flocks of birds fly overhead. The hustle and bustle makes it feel like a busy sports complex and definitely adds to the liveliness of the game.
The Nintendo Switch Sports soundtrack still has that same fun lighthearted feel to it as it did on the Wii, it’s very recognisable as being from the same game. You know instantly what the game is when you hear the music.
Extra sound effects not only add to the experience but help you to do a better job at each sport, whether that’s the whoosh of your racket, the zing of the chambara sword or even applause from the crowd.
Nintendo Switch Sports review: how long to beat?
Playing a round of each sport took me about an hour in total and when playing with one other person, it took slightly longer than an hour.
I wasn't able to play Nintendo Switch Sports online so I can't tell you how long it takes to grow through the rankings just yet but I'll update this review with all of that information as soon as I have.
Nintendo Switch Sports is a very entertaining game especially if you plan to play it with your friends and family. Some of the games will let you get up to four people involved at once as long as you have enough controllers.
I loved building my own Sportsmate because you can really make your character your own and I'm definitely looking forwards to winning some more accessories through online play. It was a shame that I couldn’t test out the online capabilities but I will try it out as soon as it goes live and I'll be sure to update this review with what I find out.
In comparison to Wii Sports, the Nintendo Switch version of the game isn’t more fun or even more accurate, but it is bang up to date with much more in-depth motion controls and massively improved graphics. It’s great to see a comeback from the tennis and bowling but I was equally as impressed with the new games. I found myself coming back to bowling, badminton and football more than any of the other sports.
My only problem with the selection of games on Nintendo Switch Sports was that I wanted more. Because there are only six options, it took me about an hour to play a round of each which isn’t very long at all and could risk it getting dry quite quickly.
Another Nintendo Switch game to get you up and moving is Just Dance (opens in new tab). Released with new tunes every year, you just need to follow the dance moves on the screen to win. Play by yourself or with up to 5 other people at once, it's one of the best party games in the world!
If you're a big fan of racket sports then take a look at Mario Tennis Aces (opens in new tab). You can play it in single matches or in the story mode where Mario must stop Lucien the tennis racket from destroying the Kingdom of Bask. It doesn't really play like the Nintendo Switch Sports version of tennis because you'll need to use the buttons and analogue stick, but if you'd rather get up and moving, it does also have a 'swing mode' that lets you play single matches using motion capture.