Nintendo Switch Sports was one of the more intriguing titles to come out of the February Nintendo Direct livestream. It’s been sixteen years since Nintendo’s Wii Sports, which singlehandedly opened up console gaming to a new audience and made motion controls a mainstay for Nintendo consoles.
Now that a handful of players have had a chance to go hands-on with Nintendo Switch Sports, it seems as though the game could live up to its lofty legacy.
Nintendo hosted a press preview for Nintendo Switch Sports last week, and publications such as CNN Underscored, PCMag and The Verge attended. The response was positive overall, with multiple journalists citing intuitive gameplay, satisfying variety and accurate motion tracking. Between its easy-to-grasp fundamentals and focus on multiplayer, Nintendo Switch Sports could be yet another excellent party game in the Switch's arsenal.
For those who haven’t been following Nintendo Switch Sports, it has the same basic pitch as Wii Sports and Wii Sports Club. Rather than offering a single complex sports sim, Nintendo has packaged together six sports mini-games. Each one is easy to pick up and play, and each one incorporates commonsense motion controls. For example: You’ll swing your Joy-Con overhead to serve a ball in tennis, roll your Joy-Con underhand to bowl, and hold your Joy-Con in front of you to defend in chambara (a type of Japanese sword-fighting).
Nintendo Switch Sports will feature six modes at launch: badminton, bowling, chambara, soccer, tennis and volleyball. According to the hands-on previews, all of these modes work well, with particular praise for tennis, badminton and bowling.
Previewers pointed out how the tennis and badminton modes feel similar, for the most part, but both feel excellent to play. Both games require you to track the ball, then swing your Joy-Con to rally or volley, using either front-hand or backhand swings. Badminton is a little simpler to play than tennis, but both modes seem to track gestures accurately, and both make it feel easy and satisfying to hit the ball or shuttlecock.
Bowling, arguably the most memorable game from the original Wii Sports, also comes off well here. There’s no special trick to gameplay; you simply roll the ball and aim for a strike. However, multiple previews pointed out that bowling now features a battle royale-style multiplayer mode, which kicks out players with low scores as the game progresses. While Nintendo Switch Sports may not displace Fortnite or Apex Legends as the go-to battle royale game, it’s at least a creative addition.
Not every mode came off equally well, however. Nintendo will implement leg strap support for soccer later this year, but until then, players will have to use their hands to run and kick. Volleyball also seems to be more complicated than the other games, requiring precise timing to bump, set or spike the ball.
Nintendo Switch Sports will be out on April 29, and will cost either $50 for a physical edition with a leg strap, or $40 for a digital edition without one. Tom’s Guide will have a full review closer to launch.