Thanks to Ubisoft for the review code
Title: Sports Party
System: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 10/30/2018
I’ll be totally honest, going into this game totally blind, I didn’t really expect much at all, hoping that it would just be a fun little minigame compilation to play with a friend every now and then. Yet even I was pretty shocked at just how basic this game looks. From the plastic looking character models to generic setpieces, Sports Party felt very reminiscent of the sort of stuff you’d see on the Wii, and I was actually convinced that this was a Wii remaster similar to Go Vacation, until I learned that this is actually a game built from the ground up for Switch.
Needless to say, compared to Mario & Rabbids and even older stuff like Child of Light, this isn’t really a looker, and the only thing I can really give the game credit for is the amount of customization it provides you, and the goofy expressions your avatar can have.
The audio doesn’t fare much better, with music that comes off as generic party music, and a narrator that reminds me of the overly enthusiastic one from Disney Infinty. At the very least, it isn’t irritating and the narration can actually come off as pretty funny after a while.
Sports Party is a minigame compilation with six different sports, all taking place on an island. These minigames can be played against CPU opponents, or up to four players in local multiplayer, but not online. Luckily I managed to get a friend to come over to play this primarily in multiplayer, just as intended, which made going through these games a lot more entertaining than if I went solo. With each minigame that you clear or replay, you’ll gain experience points that will level up your character and unlock new clothes for you to customize them with, but I never really found myself actually using any of these unlockables.
First up is Golf, which is a super basic version of the sport with short holes. This may seem like your typical golf game at first, having to choose a club and hit the ball in order to get it into the hole, but a very annoying part of this game is that you always start off in a practice shot before you hit ZR and do a real one. This means that for every single shot, you’ll have to hit the ZR button before you press the actual shot button. Very annoying and pretty unremarkable, even when you play against a friend.
Next up is Beach Tennis, which is a simple sport where you have to bounce the ball on the opponent’s side of the court in order to score a point and be the first to reach the point threshold. Your character automatically moves towards the ball, so the only thing the stick will do is adjust the angle of your shot. You can even use the ZR button once a meter fills up in order to unleash a power shot, which is incredibly difficult to hit back. Once again, nothing special of a mode.
Jet Ski follows suit, and this is a racing game where you must ride over speed ramps and pass the other opponents. It’s no Wave Rave, that’s for sure, but as a racing minigame, it’s decent enough with friends, although facing CPUs can be quite frustrating due to the rubber band AI being more aggressive than usual.
Skateboarding is easily the worst game of the bunch, being a button mashing fest where you must gain enough speed to ride your skateboard down a ramp in order to reach a finish line. The rubber banding is even worse in this game, and even when button mashing to your absolute hardest, the CPUs will still catch up with you even on the easiest setting. Combine that with lots of obstacles in the way, and this game becomes really boring incredibly quickly, even with a friend skating with you.
Frisbee offers two distinct modes, one of which is a four player contest where you must throw a frisbee at glowing rings in order to score the most points, and the other is one that forces motion controls, having you swing the Joy-con horizontally to toss the frisbee. While the other minigames do offer optional motion controls, this is the only case where I felt it worked with some sense of reliability, and I was actually impressed with how this was good fun for a few minutes or so. If you have a friend around, this mode is worth a look, at the very least.
Last but not least, is Basketball. Believe it or not, this is the absolute best game of the entire bunch! It still doesn’t do anything that significant, but it’s the most engaging sport included here by far. You can ruthlessly knock the ball out of your opponents’ hands and make dunks with them, and that’s pretty much it. It’s incredibly simplistic, yet the to-the-point nature of this sport made Basketball the mode my friend and I spent the most time goofing around in, and will likely be the sole mode I show off to any friends interested in playing this game.
In conclusion, Sports Party is as basic of a sports compilation as you can get. It doesn’t do much to distance itself from being yet another Wii Sports clone cashing in on the casual market, and the fact that this is meant to be a full exclusive to the Switch just feels odd. Outside of some interesting connectivity with Ubisoft Club, (Which can unlock online achievements, that in turn allows you to get special costumes to customize your avatar) this game doesn’t really have much going for it.
That being said, since this is one of the very few sports compilations on the Switch, I can possibly see this being a bargain bin pickup for goofing off in Basketball, but I don’t think anyone will get more than two hours of enjoyment from this. Not a bad game by any means, but a really underwhelming one that doesn’t seem to fit the bill as either a great party game or a must-have multiplayer game.
I give Sports Party a 4 out of 10.