Nintendo Switch Sports was released last week and by most accounts it’s a fun party game. Much like its predecessors on the Wii and Wii U, it offers an accessible pick-up and play experience that’s particularly appealing to more casual gamers.
While I’m pretty excited to see the beloved series return – especially since it’s a title that my game-agnostic partner has shown some interest in – it’s yet another example of a problem that is becoming increasingly common with Nintendo titles: a serious lack of content.
Of course, content-light games are by no means exclusive to Nintendo – just about every publisher is guilty of releasing them on occasion – but Nintendo is making a disturbing habit of releasing titles that can be fully experienced. in just over a weekend. And this trend worries me a lot for the future of Nintendo games.
Nintendo Switch Sports is seriously rare
At launch, Nintendo Switch Sports offers six sports: tennis, bowling, sword fighting, football, volleyball and badminton. It’s a relatively small selection of minigames for a full-priced $50 version (though it does come with a leg strap).
Admittedly, this is one more event than the original Wii Sports offered, but this game was integrated into all Wii consoles in the United States and Europe. It was basically a freebie designed to showcase the potential of the system’s motion controls.
The current amount of Nintendo Switch Sports content seems particularly sparse compared to 2009’s Wii Sports Resort, which included a dozen options. This list was further augmented by several sports having alternate game modes that really shook up the formula.
Sure, Switch Sports includes an obstacle course version of bowling, three slight variations of chambara swordfighting, and a football mode called Kick that uses the Joy-Con leg strap included with physical copies of the game, but compared to its direct predecessor, it offers much less out-of-the-box content.
Nintendo Switch Sports offers at least the series’ most robust online sequel to date. However, you still play the same six sports, even if you do so against players from all over the world. Online play adds novelty, not to mention tougher opponents to face than your family members, but it’s no groundbreaking inclusion that excuses the game’s small selection of main events.
Nintendo makes it a habit
Switch Sports is far from an isolated case when it comes to Nintendo Switch games that lack significant content. In fact, it’s starting to become a worrying trend with the company’s exclusives.
Another great example is Mario Golf Super Rush from last year. While the core gameplay was engaging enough, not to mention the high level of polish, there just wasn’t enough content at launch. The game only offered six courses, no customization options, and there wasn’t even an online tournament feature. Not to mention that the single-player story mode could be completed in around four hours.
Another Nintendo sports title that suffered from a lack of content was Mario Tennis Aces, which had much of the same issues as its golf counterpart. Both of these games have me very concerned about the amount of content Mario Strikers Battle League will release this summer.
In fact, a recent Japanese Trailer for Mario’s Next Soccer Game has confirmed that the game will only have 10 playable characters at launch. This is a pretty small list when you consider the matches are 4v4, and would certainly suggest that Battle League will be yet another Mario sports game missing in the content department.
Nintendo sports games are not the only ones to suffer from this problem. Splatoon 2 received similar reviews when it launched in 2017, as did Super Mario Party when it released in 2018 – although its sequel, Mario Party Superstars, enjoyed a warmer reception on that front.
Release now, fix later
Over the past two console generations, Nintendo has received a lot of well-deserved praise for consistently releasing full-featured games that didn’t really require post-launch patches because they were so polished from day one.
This approach contrasted sharply with that of many other game publishers, who seemed content to release games in poor states, knowing that they could be patched into a more acceptable state later.
Unfortunately, Nintendo now seems to have reverted to a similar strategy with some of its games. Over the Switch’s lifecycle, as noted above, several half-baked games have been released, with the promise of improvements to come later via post-launch updates – the only difference being that these updates added content rather than fixed bugs.
For example, it has already been announced that Nintendo Switch Sports will increase its sports roster. Golf is confirmed to launch this fall, and a summer update will allow the leg strap to be used in regular soccer matches (it’s currently exclusive to the aforementioned shooting mode).
That’s good news, but I can’t help but wonder why the game didn’t come out with these already included. If that meant the release date had to be pushed back several months, so be it. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Nintendo also took a similar approach with Mario Golf Super Rush: in the months following launch, three new courses were added to the game. does anything other than make the game look the way it should have been when it first came out. It already looks like history is repeating itself with Nintendo Switch Sports.
Nintendo still has plenty of full games
It’s important to note that games like Nintendo Switch Sports and Mario Golf Rush are arguably the exceptions, not the rule. Over the past five years, Nintendo has released many feature-rich games that have become some of my all-time favorite gaming experiences.
No one rated The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Mario Odyssey for not offering enough content. In fact, both games will keep the finalists busy for dozens of hours. Likewise, recent Switch titles like Metroid Dread, Pokemon Legends: Arceus, and Kirby and the Forgotten Land could only be considered complete at launch.
However, I find it disappointing that Nintendo doesn’t seem to take the same approach when it comes to other titles in its stable. I’m also concerned that players accepting a lack of content in smaller games will eventually see the problem spill over into flagship titles like Breath of the Wild 2 or Mario’s next mainline entry, which would really suck.
Even if that fear ultimately proves unfounded, it’s still disappointing that titles like Nintendo Switch Sports don’t reach their full potential at launch. Ultimately, no game should require post-launch patches to feel like a complete product.