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The State of Sports Gaming on the Nintendo Switch

Sports Gaming

The State of Sports Gaming on the Nintendo Switch

In under one month, Nintendo Switch will turn two. The hybrid console absolutely took and became the fastest-selling console in the United States last year. So after two years, whether you’re just starting to get into a specific sport, want a recommendation of what to pick up, or are leveraging the sports offerings to purchase the console, allow us to guide you through the current state of sports gaming on the Nintendo Switch.

Soccer

FIFA’s presence on the Switch, though not as jam-packed with bells and whistles as its PS4 and Xbox One counterparts, is important. It retains the feel of the annual releases and has an abundance of features. Soccer Slammers takes a fun but limited approach to the classic arcade gameplay. Additionally, Neo Geo has six separate options that, while very basic in modes and gameplay, are a local multiplayer blast just as they were at laundromats, bowling alleys and restaurants in the ’90s. Soccer is in excellent standing as the bounty of classic/indie titles supplement what should be a steady yearly release in FIFA.

Football

Ironically enough, the NES shines brightly with Tecmo Bowl. Even if it is stripped of NFL teams, players and the ability to edit anything, it still feels excellent and makes for exceptional multiplayer (which you can even play online with friends if you have Switch multiplayer). Mutant Football League and Football Heroes Turbo provide very unique takes on American football, while Neo Geo’s Football Frenzy and a port of 1983’s 10-Yard Fight round out the classics. Will 2019 be the year Madden gets ported to the Switch? To phrase it another way, when 2025 rolls around, what will there be more of: Madden titles on the Switch or championships for my beloved Houston Texans? Only time will tell.

Hockey

Help. “Hockey” returns three Switch results on the eShop: Air Hockey (not exactly what we are looking for), NES Ice Hockey (remarkably boring after five minutes, even online), and Disc Jam (also not hockey). It is wild to think that hockey truly has nothing else on the console. Even if it is not the most popular sport in Japan, it has a formidable presence both internationally and in the United States. One can only hope that EA could port even an outdated release of its NHL series to the Switch, but we’ll just have to wait until fall to see. Meanwhile, maybe a port of Super Blood Hockey could do the trick.

Basketball

Though basketball has fewer options than other sports, it is in excellent shape. The NBA 2K series, arguably the most polished annual simulation sports franchise, has seen two great ports, which bodes well for future third-party sports titles. NBA 2K Playgrounds 2, while controversial in its DLC tactics, decently scratches the NBA Jam-sized itch, and there just always seems to be a Neo Geo savior around the corner as needed in Street Hoop.

Baseball

Unless something dramatic occurs, MLB The Show will not be appearing on a Nintendo console anytime soon. RBI Baseball’s 2017 and 2018 entries were largely panned by critics and fans, but MLBAM released an impressive list of improvements that could boost the game’s appeal. As much as we would love to see a Ken Griffey, Jr. reboot, the likelihood of Nintendo reviving or porting a classic is nonexistent. Though the glory days of overeager gamers sending a strap-less (“No, I don’t need one”) Wii remote through a television screen at full strength are largely behind us, Wii Sports’ baseball made for hours of entertainment. Baseball, however, is not included in Sports Party Switch. The baseball mini-game in Super Mario Party could actually be quite fun if the fastball wasn’t comically overpowered. Otherwise, Neo Geo has our backs again in the phenomenal Super Baseball 2020 — which is next year, by the way.

Wrestling

While not as dire as hockey, the squared circle could use some help. The lone WWE 2K release was such as disaster that 2K did not even bother porting the game the next year. Fire Pro Wrestling World and the Switch seemed to be a perfect fit, but it tragically and inexplicably did not get released on the console. Barring any nostalgia, there’s only so much fun that can be extracted from NES’ Pro Wrestling. 3 Count Bout, while fun, is much more of a 2-D fighter than a wrestling game, and Guacamelee! 2 is a blast but hardly what we’re looking for. Here’s hoping that Fire Pro Wrestling World is a surprise drop in a future Nintendo Direct.

Racing

Sure, there’s Mario Kart, but the Switch has a bounty of racing titles, from Crash Team Racing landing soon to GRID Autosport announced last week. Even Neo Geo has horse racing in Stakes Winner 2.

Tennis

Mario Tennis is excellent. I wish it had some sort of career mode like in Virtua Tennis or an RPG mode like its Game Boy Advance counterparts, but it still plays very well. Licensing aside, we can always dream that the Dreamcast’s Virtua Tennis 2 will be released for the Sega Ages series.

Golf

Golf Story is a great indie title and Neo Turf Masters is an all-timer, but a port of The Golf Club 2 seems like another great fit.

Other Sports         

Disc Jam, Rocket League, Stikbold, and Nidhogg 2 are all excellent takes on and fusions of a number of genres. OlliOlli is a refreshing rework of arcade-style skateboarding, even if it has been on other consoles for almost five years.

Looking Forward

EA and 2K have proven that their marquee titles can function well on the Switch, and Neo Geo leads the charge with nostalgic sports titles on the console. Licensing complicates just about every classic sports game that we fondly remember, so no one should put too much faith in Nintendo Switch Online’s unfathomably slow-growing catalog of previous console games. Nintendo has done a decent job curating indie sports titles, but is it enough to win over those players from other consoles? After all, some huge sports do not even have a port on the Switch yet. The library is ever-growing, but there is visible room to improve in almost every sport.

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  1. I bought a switch back in January. I haven’t touched my Xbox since. PS4 has been active with Red Dead and WWE but most the time I’m playing 2k19 on switch. Give me madden on NHL please! They will be immediate buys.
    Having a pretty good time with NBA 2k19 on mine. I primarily play on PS4 but I bought the Switch port while it was on sale during all star weekend and I've been using it purely  as a simulator during commutes.
    And this is why I still play my Vita.  I was ready to jump on the Switch when it came out.  I just needed to make sure there would be football, baseball and/or hockey games.  Pretty much zero for three.  I am happy for the folks who enjoy the games available on the Switch, but it has been a huge disappointment for me.
    Super Volleyball Blast on the Switch is a 2 on 2 beach volleyball game. Good, quick fun.
    Super Mega Baseball 2 would be perfect on the Switch. And it would sell!
    I would buy sports titles on switch if more were available.  Here's what I would like to see
    Baseball:
    Super Mega Baseball of some kind.  Hopefully they can port over SMB2 but I think we would probably have to wait for SMB3.  I have SMB2 on PC and I love it.
    As far as MLB goes I don't know if Sony has exclusivity with the licence but I think here's where 2K or EA could maybe get back into baseball.  MVP for switch would be a great place to get that franchise going again.
    Football:
    I keep begging Metal Head to make a football game.  We'll see what happens.  Madden seems a natural fit here and I don't know why they haven't tapped into that market yet (maybe they are too busy trying to fix M19?).  I wouldn't mind seeing a custom game like a super mega football.  I played Tecmo Bowl Kickoff a lot back when it was released because I could customize it to align with the NFL.  As you can tell I really like custom titles.
    Hockey:
    I don't play too much Hockey outside of the occasional pickup of the NHL series when it's on sale.  I like playing hockey games but I'm not a big enough fan of the sport so I don't prioritize it over football, baseball, basketball, or wrestling.  That being said EA's NHL seems like the obvious choice here.  I might play more Hockey if I could take it on the go.
    Wrestling:
    Fire Pro Wrestling seems like a NATURAL fit here and I have no idea why they didn't port it over.  Maybe they were too busy with Fire Promoter (which took over a year to develop and release) to work on porting to switch.  Now with Fire Pro now featuring New Japan Pro Wrestling and Spikechunsoft being a Japanese company, I think it's only a matter of time don't you?
    WWE??? Where are you?  AEW should capitalize on the lack of wrestling on switch.  They have enough marketable stars on their roster already (Omega, Jericho, Cody, Young Bucks) without even having a show that a well put together game would probably sell.
    Tennis:
    Mario Tennis is superb.  I love how they have improved the matchmaking and tournaments online and the double makes it even better.  A great feature is how you can switch between regular play and simple play with no power ups making the game feel more sim.
    A licenced tennis game like Virtua Tennis would be awesome on switch and I was really hoping AO Tennis or Tennis World Tour would do well but they were disappointing. 
    Golf:
    TGC on switch.  How many hours would I lose to that game if I had it for switch.  I played so much TGC2 (I haven't gotten into TGC19 yet...) I can't imagine how much I would play it on the go.  Please TGC on switch , please!!
    Soccer:
    Now I have to preface by saying I am not a soccer fan.  I don't play soccer on any console, I just don't watch or follow the sport.  So for me, a title like Mario Soccer wouldn't even move the needle for me.  And that's saying something since I would probably play anything sports and Mario.  That being said...
    MARIO SPORTS TITLES:
    I would purchase Mario sports titles day one, right now if available.  For two reasons.  1) The games are usually pretty well done and a blast to play, 2) I have a 6 year old son and it's a great way to introduce him to how the sports are played because they take the basic concepts and amplify them and they are easier to play than The Show, Madden, or NBA 2K.
    Mario Basketball, Baseball, Football, Hockey, Golf, and maybe even Soccer (because of reason #2) would be definite buys for me.   Give me more Mario sports!
    There's a big rumor that XBOX Game Pass is coming to Switch, which might mean Forza on Switch!
    Next Level Games, who made NHL Hitz Pro and Super Mario Strikers are a Nintendo 2nd party developer, so basically there's no excuse for there not to be Mario Hockey!  Although, I would accept a new Mario Strikers

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