Nintendo Switch Sports shows innovation is needed for sequels to thrive
The sequelae are generally perceived in two ways. Either they greatly improve those that preceded them, rendering their predecessors obsolete; or they’re the younger siblings of their more popular predecessors, which don’t quite capture the same magical feel. One thing is certain – sequels cannot escape the pressures of comparison.
With each new Zelda, Pokémon, or Animal Crossing game, players revisit the strengths and weaknesses of games of the past, sparking a tidal wave of online discussion and play-throughs. Nintendo Switch Sports, the first game in the Wii Sports series to appear on a non-disc-reading system, is no different. But does it live up to the iconic Wii Sports? I thought so at first, but now I’m not so sure.
If it feels good, it must be…right?
Nintendo Switch Sports is incredibly fun to play. The Joy-Con’s built-in HD Rumble makes every contact with a ball impactful, and I particularly enjoyed volleyball, one of the newer sports. The main modes in each game work well, and my time in the online modes has gone without a hitch so far.
Unfortunately, that’s where the problem lies — the main modes are the only fashions. There are no options to play tennis singles or badminton doubles, and no game modes other than those you play online or locally with friends. Wii Sports had practice modes for its five games available, allowing players to improve their skills on their own between multiplayer matches. Its sequel, Wii Sports Resort, added increased precision in its controls with the Wii Motion Plus accessory, and had many unlockable single-player modes that put a unique spin on each sport.
I fondly remember Showdown Mode in Swordplay where I slashed my way through clusters of Miis, hitting them with my neon plastic sword. The 100 Pin Challenge was also very popular, challenging you to knock down 100 pins at once. Although Nintendo Switch Sports is primarily a multiplayer game, it has nothing for single players or people who want to play but need a change of pace from the usual multiplayer modes.
Nintendo Switch Sports Is have unlockable content in the form of cosmetics. However, unlocking them is a daunting task and requires players to subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online if they wish to dress up their character. I wish there were practice or single player modes in Nintendo Switch Sports that implement the progression system to earn cosmetics, as I quickly got bored of grinding through the monotonous online modes for my three favorite sports .
Sports are, by and large, multiplayer endeavors, and Nintendo Switch Sports is marketed to families and groups of friends who want to get together in person to play games. Yet when that family and friends return home at the end of a session, owners of those games may want to do something different. But even in the online single-player mode, it’s the exact same experience, just more solitary. While I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the early days of Nintendo Switch Sports, bowling late into the night, I quickly fell apart because the pressure to play the same games online over and over again was too much.
She sells suites by the sea
Sequels never seem to win. What is the function of a sequence? When do we add too much content? When is removing content too offensive? I think the sequels serve two purposes: to add enough content to keep things fun and fresh, and to remove content that made its predecessor unplayable. Not every sequel has to accomplish both things or “reinvent the wheel”, so to speak. Splatoon 2 was very similar to its predecessor in terms of mechanics outside of Salmon Run, only adding new weapons and maps. But what did Splatoon 2 fix? It introduced better performance, more balanced weapons, allowing loaders to hold their charge while swimming and giving rollers a long-range attack, and more.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a game considered an inferior sequel despite all of its new additions. This game stepped up customization in a way that no game in the series has, allowing players to place furniture outdoors and change the landscape of their island through terraforming.
However, it doesn’t compare to its predecessor, Animal Crossing: New Leaf in many ways, namely the watered-down conversations villagers have to offer, the tons of classic furniture sets that the game completely lacked, and how boring and the non-involved holidays were, with the exception of Turkey Day. New Horizons feels unfinished in many ways, and despite offering tons of content and the Happy Home Paradise DLC, I don’t feel compelled to return to it as often as I did in New Leaf.
Pokémon Sword and Shield ended up creating more problems than it solved. There have been quality of life changes, such as players no longer rely on the Fly HM move for fast travel, traded Pokémon are not beholden to their nicknames, breeding shiny Pokémon is easier than ever, and camping helps heal your Pokemon in a snap. when a Pokémon Center is nowhere in sight. However, the removal of hundreds of Pokémon in the base game, along with the lack of exploration outside of the Wild Area, made the game disappointing for many.
It was the removal of Pokemon in particular that infuriated tons of longtime fans, not only because it meant their favorite Pokemon were in danger of being left out, but Game Freak hinted that it was impossible to include more Pokemon. That is, until the majority of them are sold back to us as the paid Sword and Shield DLC called the Expansion Pass.
of course you could technically move your old Pokémon that were previously incompatible with the game to Sword and Shield via Pokémon HOME, but if you wanted to transfer more than 30 Pokémon at a time, you would have to pay the subscription fee for Pokémon HOME. Turning something that could have been included for free for everyone into a feature locked behind a paywall is what Nintendo Switch Sports has also done, which isn’t a trend I’d like to see continue.
Strive to be an incredibly stunning successor
Good sequels keep the things that work and weed out the things that don’t. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild added new mechanics like physics-based environmental interactions while keeping the stamina meter from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. While the recent Pokémon Legends: Arceus wasn’t a direct main sequel to the world of Pokémon games, it retained the core turn-based mechanics while introducing the new Strong and Agile fighting styles alongside the new focus on progress by catching more Pokemon.
I just want something to do besides grinding clothes in Nintendo Switch Sports.
Nintendo Switch Sports could have been a much better sequel. And while Nintendo has promised more content in the future, I think it’s still important to judge games based on their condition when released. I think more sports at launch, even 10 of them, would have given players more time before the game started to feel the same. There are also things that could improve both online and local gaming experiences – introducing leaderboards with friends, for example, could introduce a competitive aspect and encourage friends to play with each other in online and to create links on the various mistakes made in the games. Tournaments similar to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe could also bring together communities of people instead of forcing people to play with randoms online, which makes the experience more alienating for me.
To enhance the single-player experience or even just that of playing locally with friends and family, allowing people to unlock alternate costumes and sports gear through offline play at a reasonable pace would eliminate the forced online subscription preventing players to express themselves fully. And just…we need more alternate modes for games – 100 pin challenges and bowling curve practice, throwback challenges for tennis and badminton, a story mode for chambara – just Something for me to do in addition to grinding clothes.
Finally, I would like to see more people. Let’s explore Spocco Square! We could play mini-games in the little restaurants in this mall-like complex, learn about the new setting, or even watch without having to play ourselves. Wuhu Island has become an iconic Nintendo location, and Spocco Square deserves just as much love.
A disappointing follow-up
When a game is excellent, we often want more, but at what cost? With gamers increasingly demanding new games in their favorite franchises, waiting for sequels can be anxiety-provoking. Will it be an amazing experience like we’ve never seen before, or will it just feel half-baked? There’s a crucial balance between removing unpopular features and adding risky, yet innovative features, and it seems to be a random trend in some of the latest Nintendo Switch games. Nintendo Switch Sports is still young, with more content on the way, so all I can do is hope it reaches, at the very least, the level of greatness that its predecessors are at.
Break a sweat!
Nintendo Switch Sports
Play classic sports with friends
Get together like it’s 2006 with Wii Sports’ beloved sequel. With six sports to choose from and many more to come, you’ll be sure to sweat, but hopefully this won’t be your TV.
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