Back in the heyday of the Wii, it seemed like every developer under the sun wanted to cash-in on the trend that Nintendo started with Wii Sports. During this time, it felt like every time you blinked, there were at least 10 clone titles from all sorts of different studios popping up, including ones backed by big publishers like Ubisoft. Sports Party on Switch took me back to those wild times, and it’s fitting because this is actually a remake of a Wii Sports clone that released nearly a decade ago. With this type of game now being a rarity these days, playing Sports Party evoked a bit of nostalgia. But, the novelty didn’t last very long.
Sports Party includes six activities (Golf, Beach Tennis, Basketball, Skateboarding, Frisbee, and Jet Ski), almost all of which were included in one of the two Wii Sports titles. The game even borrows the same “eternal summer on a resort island” theme from Wii Sports Resort. As a result, I spent most of play time mentally comparing it to my experience with those now-classic Nintendo titles.
Out of the six activities, I didn’t really ‘click’ with any specific one. None of them truly wowed me, as they were all pretty average in their own right. They play exactly like how you would expect from a low-budget game such as this. What is a bit of a curveball is that you always have the option to choose between using motion or traditional controls. The common theme that ran through most Wii titles like this was that they were “waggle-fests,” so it’s good that the developers here decided to make use of the Switch’s more traditional design. This especially helps when playing these activities in handheld mode.
Golf feels decent, although I don’t find it as refined as what Wii Sports Resort offered (this is going to be a running theme throughout the activities). You have the option of playing three, six, or nine holes. With motion controls, it handles okay enough, but the traditional option made things far simpler. Beach Tennis felt awkward using the button controls, so I preferred motion instead. You can select between 1v1 or 2 2 matches. The 2v2 matches were a bit wonky, as my AI partner seemed rather inept most of the time.
Basketball is split between a traditional 2v2-style game that plays similarly to a simplified version of NBA Playgrounds, along with a 3-point contest mode. The 2v2 games are strictly normal controls only, while the 3-point contest allows you to use motion controls. Here, the motion controls felt a little unresponsive, so I’d recommend going the traditional route. The same can be said for Skateboarding; traditional controls are definitely superior here. This activity has two modes, a traditional 4v4 race and a checkpoint time trial. Each of these modes is split between three courses. The overall gameplay here is simple, only consisting of you trying to keep up the board’s speed as you roll downhill. I would have much rathered a more Tony Hawk Pro Skater-style trick mode instead.
Frisbee and Jet Ski are by far the most awkward of the bunch, but for different reasons. The motion controls in Frisbee seem to lose track far too easily, so I’d again advise using the traditional controls. There are two modes, Party and Target. Each involves throwing the Frisbee at a specific spot, so precision is necessary. Now, as for Jet Ski, I was completely unimpressed. The races are traditional circuit style, but trying to control the Jet Skis feel so strange. It’s like they have no horsepower and barely want to turn. You’ll spend most of your time mashing the boost button, as that’s the only time a real sense of speed is present. But, using the boost makes the machines take off like rockets, thus leading to more frustration.
Minus Skateboarding, all of these other activities were in Wii Sports/Wii Sports Resort. The 1:1 precision of Wii Motion Plus in Resort along with Nintendo’s polish made playing genuinely fun, which is why I poured dozens of hours into both titles. Sports Party, like the majority of other minigame collection titles, just simply falls well below Nintendo’s level of quality. These activities are all simply okay to play, but only for an hour or so. At least I had some fun with the character customization, though.
The presentation alone shows that the development behind Sports Party was a pretty average affair. It’s quite colorful and vivid, and the stylized visuals help give it some character. But, it’s certainly no graphics masterpiece. That said, it’s strange that the framerate is only 30 FPS with occasional drops. The Switch can do better, so this just shows minimal effort.
Unlike the Wii days, Sports Party stands mostly alone in its genre on Switch. But, there are still alternatives. Personally, I would check out Bandai Namco’s Go Vacation before this. If this title really speaks to you though, I would only give it consideration at $20 or less.
A review code was provided by the publisher.
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.