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Nintendo Switch Sports is the successor to the most mainstream sports video game of all time, Wii Sports. And Nintendo hopes this version will get both gamers and non-gamers excited about exercising on the Switch.
This could be a big title for the Switch, which Nintendo said in February sold more than 103.54 million units as of December 31, a huge number of units since March 2017. The Switch’s milestone meant it set the previous record of surpassed the Wii by 101.63 million consoles. sold. And Wii Sports was a huge accelerator for Wii.
The new Nintendo Switch Sports title will launch on April 29 and will feature six sports played with Joy-Con controllers. The sports include football, volleyball, bowling, tennis, badminton and Chambara (sword game). I got to play them all briefly this week during a demo at Nintendo’s US office in Redwood City, California. Switch Sports takes place in a large area below the Spocco arena where you can choose one of six events.
You can style your avatar Mii in Nintendo Switch Sports.
You can create your avatar, do it quickly or spend as much time on it as you want. You can create your own Sports Mii and choose from a variety of hairstyle and face options. The resulting characters are much more expressive than the old Mii characters.
Switch Sports lets you play with people in the same room in split screen, like I did with the bowling game. Or you can play against online players with different configurations. So you can play with two players in your own home on the internet against two.
Players can try to reach the Pro League in any sport. You can exchange ports you earn for in-game rewards such as outfits, sports accessories and other gear. The selection of items rotates every week. Nintendo plans to add a seventh sport later this year with a new mini golf game.
Timing is the name of the game is football shootouts in Nintendo Switch Sports.
We started with the Soccer mini-game. In the largely empty building, Nintendo’s demo people started showing me the leg band accessory (from Ring Fit Adventure) that was on my right thigh. You take one of the Joy-Con controllers and put it in the belt and it detects your leg movements. I used it to play a shootout where I kicked a ball at a target. The game character kicks the ball at you and your job is to kick the flying ball into the goal. You can choose to play left or right footed.
With this leg strap on, I could try to kick the football as it came towards me on the screen. But this was arguably the weakest demo to begin with, as it was quite difficult to judge the timing of the ball as it headed toward you. It was very easy to kick too early or too late. So the only way to really judge properly was to try and figure out the size of the ball as it approached and its speed. This was guesswork, but I think most people would eventually get used to the timing. The problem, I think, is that it’s not intuitive when to pedal.
The rest of the games I played with one or two Joy-Cons in my hands, and I didn’t see that problem with the handheld controllers at all. There is also a mode where two players with Joy-Con controllers can play against two others in football matches.
Bowling has never been faster than in Nintendo Switch Sports.
The bowling mini game was good. It cleverly saves time by having all players – in this case three – bowl at the same time. It split the screen into three parts and we all focused on our own part of the screen while mimicking bowling balls across our lanes. It seemed pretty accurate at detecting exactly where I was throwing the ball.
I had to figure out how to hold one of the buttons. If I let go of that button, I’d drop the bowling ball on the floor. Even when I was rolling the ball, I had to hold the button. That was not intuitive at all. But it was quite easy to put my body against the cones and let go. I was able to spin the ball with a flick of my wrist that the Joy-Con captured quite accurately. Overall in my first game I was able to get some spares and strikes.
Volleyball is complex but a lot of fun in Nintendo Switch Sports.
Volleyball was a little more complicated to play, but it was a lot more intuitive than kicking the ball in soccer. We played a mode where we had one CPU player and one human player on one side and played the same player on the other side. The tutorial guided me through the complex movements.
There were a few different moves to master. First you had to learn to serve. You did that by holding your hands together with one Joy-Con. You threw the ball up by raising your hands and then you served it by hitting it down.
He sends the ball over the net to the other team. To receive that ball, you have to swing your hands up as if you were hitting a real volleyball. If you get the timing right, you can set the ball so that your net players spike it. If you miss, the opposing team scores a point. You don’t have to worry about positioning your player as the game does that for you automatically. All you need to worry about is hitting the ball with the right timing.
Once you’ve placed the ball, the second player (or, in the one-on-one mode, you) can jump in the air with an upward motion and then spike the ball with a downward motion. All of these moves were quite complex to learn, but they were all very intuitive. I was able to jump straight into rallies while fighting one-on-one against another player in the same room. While playing, the CPU player made one of the moves and then I went in to make the next move.
If your opponent is getting ready to nail, you can also raise your hands at the right moment and try to block the nail. Your player at the net will jump up and block it if the timing is right. You can get a good pattern over and over from bump, set, spike and block. Depending on how your timing is and the direction you’re moving, you can shoot to the right spot on the field where your opponent can’t reach it. Like I said, this one was really well done.
Tennis volleys can get intense in Nintendo Switch Sports.
Tennis was also quite intuitive to learn. You wave up to start a serve and down to serve it. It’s a bit like foosball because you actively control both players in a doubles game on the field. When you swing at a ball, the character on your side closest to the ball will swing at the ball. This is where the more accurate Joy-Con hardware shines compared to the old Wii Sports Tennis. You can play back and forth for a long time as any player will probably have an easier time getting the timing of the swings right.
Badminton is more intense than tennis in Nintendo Switch Sports.
Badminton was a lot like tennis, but it was a faster action because the shuttle moves quickly. You have to swing up, down or sideways to hit it right. Timing is important. You do a soft upstroke to serve a lob over the net first. Then you can do soft counter lobs by holding down a button. If your opponent isn’t paying attention, the lob can catch him by surprise. Or you can use a slam stroke to finish off an opponent with a quick slam.
Chambara is sword fighting in Nintendo Switch Sports.
Chambara is sword fighting that takes place in a relatively small round arena. When you get off, you’ll fall off the platform into the water. The game allows you to use one or two Joy-Cons. I played with only one. You put both hands on the Joy-Con as if you were holding the base of a samurai sword. (The blade is not sharp.)
It’s pretty intuitive to swing it overhead in a downward slice or sideways in a horizontal attack. If you hold down a button, you can block the attack. But here’s the strange thing. If your opponent is holding the blade vertically, you cannot block it by holding your blade horizontally. You also need to hold your blade vertically to block it.
That didn’t seem very logical to me, but so be it. You can switch between attacking or blocking by just pressing the button. Then the sword fighting instincts take over. You can quickly bash your opponent in hopes of getting some quick attacks. But if the opponent blocks you, you will be stunned and unable to move. That opens the way for a counterattack to score a point.
If someone blocks you vertically, you can swing sideways to break their guard. You can also make a diagonal shot that is harder to get right, but also harder to block. I won in a ‘sudden death’ round in my first Chambara match. Not bad at all for a first time. And in general, all games are easy to learn.
At the end of it all, I was quite sweaty. And I had to drink water between each round. I think Nintendo will have another big hit on their hands with Nintendo Switch Sports.
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This post Hands-on: Nintendo Switch Sports spins with the joyful game of Wii Sports
was original published at “https://venturebeat.com/2022/04/11/hands-on-nintendo-switch-sports-runs-with-the-joyful-play-of-wii-sports/”