Switch Sports is the successor to Nintendo’s massive pack-in game of yesteryear, Wii Sports. While the original was a breakout hit that helped illustrate the Wii’s unique strengths to a new global audience, the followup Wii Sports Resort was less successful at setting the world ablaze. Nintendo Switch Sports goes back to basics, with six sports-based minigames to enjoy at launch and Golf already announced to be coming with a free update. The six sports available at launch are Volleyball, Badminton, Bowling, Soccer, Chambara, and Tennis.
Like Wii Sports, the games in Switch Sports rely on motion controls through your JoyCon controllers. That means you’ll have to get up and off the couch to play–at least most of the time–and different games will use one or both JoyCons. You’ll also set your dominant hand when creating a profile, which will determine which controller you use for most of the games. The solo modes are essentially training against AI competitors, but they each come in three difficulty levels to help prepare you for harder opponents. Here are some tips to get you started in your Switch Sports career.
Volleyball is arguably the most full-fledged sport in the collection, as you’ll regularly be alternating with your partner between the flow of bumping, setting, spiking, and blocking. It uses two remotes, one of which is reserved just for positioning. Only the dominant hand remote uses motion tracking, but to really get the full effect of imitating the sport you’ll be moving your hands together.
You get bonuses for timing which power up your shots. However, volleyball is one of the sports most prone to misjudging your timing due to animations. Needless to say, your on-screen avatar may not move at the exact speed you do, but so you may have to practice a bit to get a good grasp of how to time your moves for maximum effect.
Remember to keep an eye on the Next Move prompt, which will show an icon prompting what you should be preparing to do. And when you’re in the blocking or receiving position, remember to move your avatar using the non-dominant hand controller for better positioning.
Badminton is the classic backyard game in 1v1 style, which helps differentiate it from tennis. It only uses one remote, which means your avatar will auto-position itself during the match. You’ll instead be responsible for quick wrist flicks and swings that control your racquet.
Be sure to judiciously use drop shots by holding the shoulder button while you swing. That will plant the shuttlecock close to the net, so try to time a drop shot when your opponent has been forced to back away with power shots. Your best bet for scoring, though, is to watch the colored trails appearing from the shuttlecock. The colors represent different speeds. When the trail color turns purple, that’s your cue to do an overhead shot. This will result in a fast-moving power-shot with a pink trail that’s much harder to return.
Bowling is almost identical to its Wii Sports counterpart, so if you were one of the millions of people who played it there, your skills may easily translate to the new version. As with that game, your best surefire ways to get a strike are to either roll the ball dead-center extremely fast to send the pins rolling into each other, or off-center yourself slightly and turn your wrist just as you release the ball to give it spin. A slight spin to the ball applied from the second arrow from the edge will often be enough to make it roll into the center by the time it hits its mark.
There is a new twist here, with a Special mode that creates obstacles down the lane. Think of it as bowling meets mini-golf. For this mode, wrist-flicks to create spin are vital, because they’re the only way to navigate your way around the obstacles and hit the pins. So practice up your spin technique in the normal bowling mode, and then put those skills to the test in Special mode.
Switch Sports soccer is very little like actual soccer. The ball is massive and the field is small. You will use the JoyCon to flick and activate your kicks, or both at once to lunge. Most of your positioning will be done more like a traditional video game, using the regular analog stick. You can also dash using a shoulder button, but you’ll get fatigued so don’t overdo it.
This sport minigame is actually most similar to Rocket League, albeit with an avatar running around instead of a nitro-boosted car. You can play 1v1 or 4v4, which offer very different kinds of experiences. Occasionally a Gold Ball will come into play, which offers double the scoring value. When this happens, pick your play. If you’re down and desperately need more points, be aggressive and do all you can to get the ball in the net. If you’re ahead by a point or two, go on defense. It’s more important to prevent your opponent from closing the gap than to expand your own lead.
Chambara is essentially sword-fighting, though with little foam swords to maintain the family-friendly vibe of the whole affair. This sport actually has more options than any other, as you can choose from three sword types: Standard, Charge, and Twin, which uses two JoyCon controllers. Each comes with its own special moves.
Chambara is all about angling your blocks and attacks. If your opponent is blocking, you can still get through relatively easily, as long as you swipe in the direction of their block. So if your opponent is blocking vertically, for example, you can break through the block with a vertical slash. Your opponent’s block is highlighted in blue so it’s easy to read and swipe accordingly. Just be very careful not to swipe when they’re in the midst of changing directions, because that will fatigue you for a moment.
Inversely, when you’re on defense, try to throw off your opponent by changing block directions just as they’re getting ready to strike. By switching your block direction, you can fatigue them and then go in for the kill. Finally, save your power moves for when you’re in danger of going over the edge. You can usually push your opponent to the edge without using any power moves, but if they’ve got you cornered it can come incredibly in handy to get out of the jam.
Tennis plays very similarly to Badminton, right down to the color trails that signify speed that cue you into when you need to drop a power shot. The major difference is that Tennis is 2v2 instead of 1v1. And unlike other sports like Volleyball that give you an AI companion in solo mode, you’ll be controlling both avatars at once in a one-up, one-back court position.
In practice this can be tricky. There is some animation delay like in Volleyball, so if you swipe with your up-court player and miss you may not recover quickly enough to also swing with your back-court player. For this reason, it’s best to decide which avatar will go after a shot first, rather than try to swing with both. This way you can keep an eye on the ball and time your swing more carefully for maximum speed bonus.
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