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How to Fix Nintendo Switch's Sports Gaming Problem

Mario Tennis Aces

How to Fix Nintendo Switch's Sports Gaming Problem

It is a bias-free undeniable fact that the Nintendo Switch cannot power sports games in the same manner that the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro can. Die-hard sports fans who own a Switch as their primary console are, frankly, out of luck due to the console’s limited offering, and few (if any) would recommend the hybrid system to avid sports gamers (though 2K and EA have tried really hard with at least a couple of their ports). So how does Nintendo remedy this predicament? The answer is not clear, but I have some strategies that could improve the console’s standing in the short and long term.

Avoiding Mario Tennis: Aces’ Mistakes

Mario Tennis: Aces should and could have been a must-have title that propelled the Switch to new heights for sports fans. Nintendo’s initial foray into first-party sports on its hybrid console had all of the makings to be a huge hit: a varied roster of Nintendo icons, exceptional multiplayer and a fun RPG-style single-player mode.

But the characters were unbalanced and entirely unlocked from the start. New characters were introduced via an oddly timed DLC release that encouraged users to play in monthly tournaments. The adventure mode was a far cry from the RPG mode in the Game Boy Color Mario Tennis and the wonderful Golf Story. Customizable settings were very limited.

Nintendo teased during E3 that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would be riddled with unlockables that constantly reward players for sinking time into the game. Why not do that here? There is no shortage of unused Nintendo stars, environments for courts, and items that could been unlocked to greatly boost replay value. The game’s core tennis game is the same ultra-tense frantic chess match it has always been, but Nintendo missed the mark on what could have been another deep and must-have first-party entry.

Gameplay Over Graphics

The Switch, despite excellent first-party offerings, found itself skipped by a handful of otherwise perennial releases due to limitations and porting pains. WWE 2K18 was so unplayable that 2K is not even bothering with a release this upcoming year. No AAA sports titles will be as perfect on the Switch as they are on other consoles. FIFA 18 may have felt like an older version released for the Switch, but it included Manager Mode, Career Mode and FIFA Ultimate Team while avoiding performance hiccups even in handheld mode. At the very least, It was portable PS3/Xbox 360-era FIFA title. That could very well be the unfortunate route for foreseeable releases, but Switch players would certainly rather have a graphically inferior port than not have a release at all.

Instead of maximizing the Switch’s power for graphics, developers should make ironing out performance issues a top priority, and stabilize the frame rate and core gameplay. Franchises may take a few years before they are perfect, but that comes with the release of any new system. Consider each sport’s “best ever” titles: ESPN NFL 2K5 and MVP Baseball 2005 look awful compared to today’s games, but their gameplay makes them timeless classics.

An Influx of Indies

Hamster’s Neo Geo titles comprise the bulk of sports titles available on the Nintendo Switch. Plenty of sports are covered (no hockey but we have bowling and robot baseball), but players are understandably left with a longing for more than a port of an arcade game released almost a full 20 years prior. A few sterling indie releases have made their way onto the Switch eShop (such as Golf Story), but the void still feels colossal.

Nintendo’s very public goal of releasing “20-30 indie games per week” is something to get excited about, especially if local multiplayer masterpieces like SportsFriends find their way to the Switch. Indies are not for everyone and do not scratch the same AAA sports release itch, but an increased host of offerings can quell frustration. The Mutant Football League reboot and Nidhogg 2 are coming this fall, so as a start why can’t The Golf Club 2, Super Mega Baseball 2 or Out of the Park 2018 make their way to the Switch?


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  1. Nintendo really did themselves in with the Wii and WiiU.  The Wii sold well, but it was a pain for developers, due to motion controls and graphics.  Nintendo should have avoided naming their next console after the Wii, but nope, here comes the WiiU.  It was a great system, but if you're not playing Nintendo on it, then there's not a huge amount of games.  I'm all for innovation, but sometimes you have to take a step off of being so innovative that you hurt yourself.
    The switch is probably their best system in decades, but no major publisher is going to be a huge amount of work into making a great "port" of a ps4 or xb1 sports game.  There's just not enough profit to justify the money put into it according to the higher ups.  The only real hope we have is an indie studio putting some time, effort and money into making a great swtich game to make other publishers realize the Switch is worth spending time on.    There are plenty of great sports indie stories on the other big 2 systems (rocket league, golf club, super mega baseball) Switch just has to find theirs.  
    The real kicker is if Switch fans even care at all about sports gaming.  I'm going to guess that most don't due to the people I see talking about the Switch.  I honestly think Nintendo doesn't care about sports gaming either.
    Nintendo needs to bring back all their Mario classic sports games. Super strikers, Mario all-star baseball, etc... and they need to have them like the GameCube type versions or offer simple mode just like Mario Tennis aces. That is one of the main reasons I decided to buy Mario Tennis aces was because it offered simple mode. The only problem is, as mentioned, the characters in the game are unbalanced. Mario sports games have a long standing tradition of excellence and they are some of my favorite and most played sports games but they need to concentrate on polish as the article said.
    Why can't Nintendo just make a more powerful console?  Why are they always a generation behind the Xbox and PlayStation?  I personally don't think most fans of the Switch could care less about sports games, but if you did, then  why have a Switch as your only console?
    I hope the Switch releases a WRESTLING title, comparable to WWF No Mercy. They really have the opportunity to succeed where WWE 2k18 fails.... and that's the GAMEPLAY department. Since no one is looking for the Switch to create a game with ultra realistic/picture perfect Character models.... they can focus on what wrestling sports gamers REALLY care about... and that's just fun and gameplay. A game like  NO MERCY would definitely stand out on the Switch and would make wrestling fans buy one because of its unique gameplay style that is unlike the current WWE 2k18 gameplay.  Also, random... but why didn't Fire Pro Wrestling World release on the Nintendo Switch?? The Switch should have been all over that! I feel like they missed a really easy opportunity to bring the Switch its first good wrestling title. 
    Bring back MLB Power Pros (which would admittedly take some hoop-jumping), and that'll partially fix the baseball sector of the Switch's sports gaming problem.
    Fifa on switch is as enjoyable as FIFA on XB1 - there are differences obviously but it’s hardly night and day.
    NBA 2k18 now patched is a great game.
    I honestly don’t buy that switch isn’t capable it just need a capable team to do it.
    Look at Wolfenstien and Doom. Yes there are compromises but from enjoyment side Doom campaign on switch is as fun as the Xbox and I’ve played both.
    WWE was botched by a team not capable.
    I firmly believe there is both market and capabilities to give the switch the best mobile sports games ever.
    Why people constantly compare switch to PS4/xb1 is beyond me.
    Switch is the best handheld experience and should be embraced
    And this is why I am still using my Vita and not buying a Switch.  If the Vita can power Madden 13 and The Show 15, the Switch can power a reasonable version of sports games.  I agree that graphics can be a step down, and the game can still be a success on the Switch.  To this date, the Switch is the most disappointing platform I have seen in my years of gaming.  I was incredibly excited for the Switch when it was first announced (a hybrid mobile and console experience?  YES!), but the games so far have not even been close to anything I would play (I play mostly baseball, football and hockey games, and occasionally would mix in a Burnout or GTA type game).  I would still happily jump onto the Switch bandwagon, but they have quite a ways to go with the available games before it would be a consideration for me. 
    Nintendo has given us great franchises however severely lacking in sport titles. The last 3 systems have some gimmick or another which they have lacked in power for sport titles. I just wish Nintendo as great as they can be would develop a system to rival Microsoft and Sony and they can do it but 3 systems we are all still waiting or at the very least I am.
    Bring back MLB Power Pros (which would admittedly take some hoop-jumping), and that'll partially fix the baseball sector of the Switch's sports gaming problem

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