Nintendo Switch Sports review in progress: and it’s 2006 right away

I think it is impossible to write about Nintendo Switch Sports without starting from a direct mention to the Wii Sports capable, from November 2006 onwards, to become not only an authentic cult phenomenon, but even one of the greatest system seller in the history of video games. Because, it is useless to deny it, for many of the over one hundred million buyers of the experimental Nintendo console, Wii was actually the machine that was used to run an exclusive like Wii Sports.

The rousing success of this one bizarre cross between an arcade-style sportsman and a collection of mini-games it is obviously closely linked to a precise historical context, with a very favorable conjuncture of situations that are as extemporaneous as perhaps unrepeatable. The Big N, after years of teasing tied to the elusive Revolution controller (aka Wii’s codename), the revolution actually brought it to fruition with a bombshell dive into that strategy. Blue Ocean promoted by the late Satoru Iwata.

And so, risking as probably few other times in its centenary existence, Nintendo has chosen to follow a different path, abandoning the increasingly less fruitful head to head with direct competitors to embrace a motion control that if on the one hand has quite alienated the user. hardcore on the other hand has undoubtedly opened up the market to a whole new audience. A generation of casual gamers intoxicated byunconventional approach to tennis or bowling to be played by moving for real.

Back to the origins

As is evident starting from the name, Nintendo Switch Sports starts exactly from there, from where we left off in reality more than with the very valuable Wii Sports Resort (published in 2009, here is the Wii Sports Resort review) from the typical sensations of the original.

The leap is, in some ways, a sort of authentic space-time short circuit: although the feeling of the new Spocco Square is different – first and foremost thanks to atotally renewed and really valuable aesthetics, for a colorful and very pretty game from an audiovisual point of view – a few moments are enough to return to an era that for many is part of a past so conceptually distant as to seem, if not almost completely forgotten, at least very distant.

Moreover, it is useless to deny it: as mentioned at the beginning, motion control has been a strongly divisive phenomenon, often disliked by the more traditional (sti) and experienced players. An evolutionary branch that in reality over time has found its natural outlet in VR (where that type of interactions are almost due, to further increase identification) but of which almost every other trace in the mainstream has been lost. And, believe me, finding yourself fifteen years later waving your arms in front of the TV, mimicking pseudo-sporting moves in a more or less convinced and convincing way has a certain effect. At least at the beginning, when you seem to hear Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy echoing in the air or the advertising of those horrid ringtones for Italy’s victory at the World Cup.

Personally, it only took me a few moments to remember why the instinct of Wii Sports made so much of an impression on me back then. Basically putting aside any pretense of realism – whoever was there may remember the obsessive and meticulous chimera of the 1: 1 reproduction of the movements – just enjoy the idea and throw your head down, without thinking too much. And in fact, today as three decades ago, in the right conditions (read, first of all with the right company) Switch Sports not only continues to do its duty, but also genuinely manages to entertain. Without going around it too much, I think it is a question of innate immediacy, of stimulus and reaction, of back and forth: in fidgeting to hit an imaginary ball there must be something obviously satisfying, almost a strange spell that allows you to bypass the obvious constraints for generate smiles. A spell that, net of the hi-tech astonishment irremediably lost on the street, also in 2022 it manages to conquer young and old.

There is movement in Spocco Square

Sure, things work so well in the short if not very short term: the sincere enthusiasm generated by Nintendo Switch Sports, just like at the time, is a matter of particular atmosphere, of an evening with friends, of a family party for special occasions. And, once again, the risk of having fun madly and with the same speed abandoning everything just as quickly exists and is concrete, because in spite of a gameplay that is not at all trivial (and indeed layered as usual for the Big N) what is missing are the options, the facets, the depth.

The Achilles heel of the game is in fact in its very immediacy: on the one hand, almost no explanations are needed, and indeed a couple of minutes are enough in the worst case to be already there, to be furious in the middle of the action.

On the other hand, however, it is difficult not to see how much that same genuinely arcade instantaneity does not conceal limits that are absurdly more self-imposed in terms of game design than real. Take for example tennis, which has remained substantially unchanged compared to 2006: the basics do work in their simplicity, yet it is undeniable that once we have taken the hand, the possibility of controlling at least part of our avatar – as happens with satisfaction in volleyball – would have made the whole even more fanciful and intriguing, at least in the medium term.

Perhaps it is therefore no coincidence that the most successful disciplines – or at least those that are fresher – are precisely the unpublished ones, or in any case the more structured ones.

Bowling, in no uncertain terms, seems to have worsened quite sharply: his satisfying subtlety in the interpretation of the arm and wrist movements seems to have been lost, to embrace a very guided and too much approach with the annoyingly engaged autopilot (be prepared for an illogical amount of spare, interspersed with some more casual strikes than anything else) . Badminton proves to be more than just an alternative variant of tennis: the rhythm is very different, and the way in which you manage to direct the shots by sending the flywheel exactly where you want is very pleasant. The dimensions of the field thus contained also make the total automatism in the movements weigh less, because the AI ​​behaves in a convincing way in the positioning of the athletes.

Volleyball is, quite simply, fun: the balance between control and automation is enviable, and the result is a simplified version of certain dynamics seen in SEGA’s unforgettable Beach Spikers (Gamecube, 2001).

In 4 the split screen shrinks the screen a lot, but the result is still a satisfying and hard-fought challenge, which will certainly ignite who knows how many living rooms: a classic case of “come on, the last one and then that’s it!” which testifies to the value of the playful foundations. The Japanese fencing of Chanbara takes up what was seen in the most popular discipline of Wii Sports Resort: shame about the exclusion of the side mini-games such as the single player adventure one against all or the head-to-head to the last object sliced, but the idea of ​​having included three different weapons, each with peculiar characteristics, is satisfying (yes, for those wondering there is the possibility of using two swords at the same time). A not just nuance that makes very tight duels multifaceted, in which defense is even more fundamental than attack – because a blocked shot exposes to devastating counter moves. Football is a very crazy hybrid and very over the top, which in reality is only briefly reminiscent of the popular sport of reference.: we are in fact facing a Nintendo-branded version of the Rocket League formula, and the effect is as curious as it might seem on paper.

But be careful because this is undoubtedly the most canonically “videogame” activity of the sextet, and between visual management, double analog, mini map and team dynamics it could be difficult to think of involving an audience of non-experts (while on the contrary who knows what online game, up to a maximum of 8 participants …). It should be noted that, waiting for an update that will arrive in the summer, at the moment the shots are made with the hands: in reality there is little to regret, because the penalty mode is rather disappointing and not that preciseproving not to be worth the ad hoc purchase of the leg band already used in Ring Fit Adventure.

Familiar gameplay, but with a new face

The excellent style of Nintendo Switch Sports has already been briefly mentioned at the beginning, but it is right to deepen a little: at an audiovisual level, the staging is between the adorable and the amazing, with a truly prestigious graphic rendering.

After the last Kirby (by the way, here’s the Kirby and the Lost Land review) the N console is reconfirmed in short: once again it is above all the artistic direction that makes the difference, with a fresh and modern aesthetic that passes from the UI to the character design of the new characters – more cartoonish and perhaps less diversified than Mii , but much more pleasing to the eye. But be careful to underestimate the staging and the pure technical realization, because textures and effects are of fine workmanship, as well as the mood of a modern sports center at full capacity in which things happen is perfectbetween little men in the background busy with other chores and pulsating life scenarios.

The perception of a particularly well-finished product increases if we also consider that the package is sold for € 39.99 (which become 49.99 by opting for the version that includes the band to attach the Joy-Con to the thigh in football): a very honest figure, which becomes almost indispensable if you want to share it with a company of friends to indulge in a few evenings of healthy laughter in movement.

Already, about the longevity and durability of Nintendo Switch Sports over time: all the part connected to the progression of the character – with the possibility of becoming a professional by climbing the rankings of the various disciplines – and the unlocking of customization elements useful to make it unique your avatar is linked to the online component of the experience, unfortunately precluded in a rather questionable way in the review phase.

This is why I refer you to the update of this article scheduled for next week: give me a few more days to let loose in multiplayer on the Net and to understand how in-depth an editor can become that at the moment is much, much more limited than the possibilities. offered by the Miis at the time.

Only then will it be time for numerical evaluations and definitive verdicts, assuming that right now Nintendo Switch Sports seems to promise roughly what you imagine: giving some surprises in some cases, and making a thread turn up the nose for its bizarre narrowness in some others. All in all, however, one thought can already be affirmed with certainty: if you had enjoyed yourself a dozen years ago, you will return to do so today, and perhaps even with more taste than expected. If it wasn’t your thing then, you won’t change your mind in any way today.

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