Get some friends together, bring as many extra joy-cons as you can, and get ready to clear a safe amount of space in your living room to ensure you don't kick your cat in the face whilst trying to score a screamer with your unbelievable tekkers. Switch Sports is coming to take over your living room and send pieces of plastic into your television screen.
It's been a long time since the heady days of Wii Sports. My parents got us a Wii for Christmas back in the day and purchased those little plastic Wii Remote holders shaped like tennis rackets and golf clubs thinking they're actually useful in-game. Everyone and their grandma (literally) was playing it, bundled with the system and the perfect demo of the new motion control tech as it was.
Since 2009's Wii Sports Resort - an absolute treat and improvement on the original - there hasn't been anything quite like it for the party game enthusiast. The era of Jackbox reigned, and it has been a dark, dark time indeed. Not to worry though. We're back.
Variety and Flavour
I was able to play six sports in my Switch Sports preview, and the variety was impressive. Considering we have golf coming post-launch and (hopefully) more sports afterwards, Switch Sports has a decent amount going for it into the future.
Volleyball was an instant favourite - teaming up to set your teammate up for the perfect smash makes for some tense rallies and shouty moments (the times when I get so excited I shout as though I'm a fan at the football). The more shouty moments, the better, and this got a seven out of ten.
Both badminton and tennis are in Switch Sports. The potential for an awkward combination is undoubtedly there - two racquet sports could feel a bit samey - but it was far from the case. Mostly, I won at tennis and lost at badminton. It's all about timing, and if you miss the shuttlecock or swing at the wrong time, your character falls over helplessly, leaving things open for a giant smash. It was a lot less forgiving than the tennis, which felt very similar to the Wii Sports version of old - characters moved automatically and the timing is fairly easy to get to grips with. A classic to bring back those nostalgic memories of flinging your Wiimote around the living room with grandma and your first family pet. Eight out of ten for shouty moments.
Speaking of classics - bowling was also similar to how you remember. At least, it was similar to how I remember. I was awful at it. This time around, I am going to learn the intricacies of this game and bowl some 300s. I was one of the worst people at the entire preview event, and I can't let my reputation be damaged any further. Five out of ten for shouty moments - a bit more of a slow burn.
Chambara is the sword fighting game in Switch Sports. It's probably the most demanding of the lot for the motion controls given how pinpoint accurate you need your sword to be in order to hit your enemy. It was a bizarre experience - you're standing on a platform above a giant pool inside a library, with the ability to pick a single, double, or charge sword (which does more damage as you block strikes). It was the one I performed best at, so maybe I'm biased, but Switch Sports' Chambara promises to be one I turn on whenever a score needs to be settled. Ten out of ten for shouty moments.
Finally, we have the football game. Having been a season ticket holder at the footy for a few years back when I was at school, this one clearly had the potential for some shouty moments. Barking orders to players who couldn't hear me, telling the linesman to get some glasses, and belting out increasingly smug songs to the tune of "I Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode all surged into my head at kick-off. Excitement builds in the run-up to the big match.
It was the most surprising game of the bunch to me, given how the sport doesn't seem to translate itself particularly well to video game format. The Fifa series and Rocket League occupy both ends of the spectrum of football games, and do so excellently - where can this miniature version fit in? Well, it's basically a slow-paced Rocket League. You can sprint, jump, and kick the ball in numerous directions, leading to the potential for great team play, along with a higher level of control for new players (you swipe the remote in the same direction you want to kick the ball).
It's much easier to make a start than in something like Rocket League, and will be a great deal of fun when dribbling through the opposition team, scoring a screamer of a diving header and running around the living room doing whichever footballer's celebration feels the most appropriate. Eight out of ten for shouty moments.
How It Felt
With motion controlled games you always want to know how they actually feel to play. I have semi-good news. It was alright! Obviously, no motion-controlled game can be 100% accurate to your movements, and with no sensor bar like the Wii had, the Switch has to work some magic to make things function properly. In general, though, along with the ability to recalibrate and centre your character at any point mid-game, things seemed to work as planned.
The main issue was during Chambara. I only played a short game (as a sword fighting master, I made short work of my opponent - it's the only thing I was good at), but I had to use the recentring feature far more than in other games. A few times, strikes didn't go the way I wanted them to go, and my character seemed ever so slightly untrustworthy with the blade. Hopefully it's something that can be figured out in the future by patches and updates. It only takes a small dose of frustration to turn someone off of the entire thing.
I didn't get to try out the online mode. Obviously. There's no one playing online. It's something I'm looking forward to, albeit cautiously. Chambara is a potential worry given the split-second speed with which inputs need to be recognised, especially given how games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate have been difficult to play online for casual players without wired internet connections. Of course, for games like bowling and volleyball, it'll be a treat to play against randomers alongside pals in the same room.
I'm mostly excited to have a night in with some friends, put some music on, and have a silly ol' time on Switch Sports. It'll start real-life scraps (I'll hide my boxing gloves) and test relationships, but if I can relish the shouty moments with my nearest and dearest it'll be as close as I can get to the old days. Wii Sports, a competitive atmosphere, and a hint of violence.