It's difficult to find games that the whole family can enjoy. Sports Party is a collection of 6 games for up to 4 players but does it offer worthwhile fun? Let's get straight to the games and find out!
First up, we have a rather simple golf game. I should mention that most games can be played with either button or motion controls. Needless to say, some are better with buttons and some are more enjoyable while waving the Joy-Cons around. I found Golf to be far too simplistic and easy with the button controls so I suggest using motion controls here. The basic gameplay involves aiming your shot, selecting an appropriate club, then swinging with the optimal amount of force. That's really all there is to it. Everything works well but it's just so simple that it feels a bit empty. You can also sink putts much easier than in other golf games which makes me wonder if there's some sort of magnet mechanism in play. I didn't see the ball bounce off the hole even once.
Wait, what the heck is Beach Tennis? Apparently, it plays like a mix of table tennis and volleyball. Just like with golf, the button controls make playing this feel a bit too hollow due to the bare-bones gameplay so definitely stick to motion controls here as well. In Beach Tennis, all you do is swing your racket in order to return the ball to your opponent while your player automatically moves around the court. A meter fills as you play which allows you to unleash a power shot but it doesn't really make much of a difference as it can usually be hit back with ease. Anyway, you can play either singles or doubles matches which allows up to 4 players to enjoy a game.
After recently enjoying the just-released NBA 2K Playgrounds 2, it's hard to have fun with the hoops action featured in Sports Party. Don't get me wrong, it definitely works but it's just so simple in comparison. The main mode is a 2-on-2 competition that involves running around, passing, shooting, blocking, and stealing (as you would expect). You can only play with button controls and it's quite intuitive to do so. However, it's extremely easy to steal the ball so watching both teams stealing back and forth before someone finally makes a break for it can be rather annoying. Basketball also features a bonus mode in the form of 3-point contest where you see how many shots you can make. This mode uses both control methods and is much more fun with motion controls.
I assumed that skateboarding would involve performing tricks but instead, it's a racing game. This is one sport where I recommend playing with the button controls because the motion controls can be super-frustrating, especially while trying to make sharp turns. Tapping a button to accelerate while steering and occasionally braking is all you essentially do but there are speed pads which add a welcome layer of complexity. Just like with Basketball, there's a bonus mode here, too. Checkpoints mode has players take turns to see how many points they can earn while navigating through gates. It's a welcome inclusion although not much different gameplay-wise.
Sports Party definitely features a few games that don't play as you would expect them to and Frisbee is one such game. In Frisbee Party (one of the two included modes), you basically select a lane to throw your Frisbee down then perform a throwing motion to have it land on a target. You don't have to aim at all and using the button controls is so easy, it feels like cheating. Anyway, the goal is to have your Frisbee land on point targets before your opponents' do. The tricky part is that red targets will subtract points so the strategy (if you can call it that) merely involves throwing your Frisbee at the highest denomination of point targets as soon as they emerge.
The other variation is Target Mode. This mode actually has you aim your throws and you can't cheat by using button controls. I found it to be more enjoyable than the party mode and the motion controls worked impressively well as the disc soared wherever I intended to aim it. It's too bad that it's not multiplayer focused because waiting for people to take their turns can be quite boring.
Finally, we have Jet Ski which is a somewhat fun water racing sport featuring 5 distinct tracks. You can probably guess that I recommend using button controls here because just like with the Skateboard game, it can be very difficult to steer using motion controls. Anyway, jumping off ramps and working your way around tight corners while unleashing nitro for a boost once in a while can provide some enjoyment for those who like water racers. That being said, Riptide GP: Renegade and Aqua Moto Racing Utopia are also available for Switch and both of those games offer far more excitement than this mini-game does, that's for sure.
Odds and ends
Before wrapping this up, I'd like to discuss a few general aspects that stood out. For one thing, the music that plays throughout Sports Party is fantastic complete with many vocal tracks that make the games feel much livelier. Next, you have the option to customize your characters which isn't as deep as in most games but the fact that you unlock clothes and such adds some satisfaction to performing well. Finally, I came across a few glitches and performance issues that I wish were ironed out before release. For example, my vehicle suddenly started moving backwards and through rocks while playing Jet Ski. You can actually watch this in the gameplay video below. On top of that, the characters seem to move around all herky-jerky in a few of the games which makes it come across as unpolished.
If you're looking for a variety of games that the whole family can play together then Sports Party is a solid choice. However, gamers who want any sort of depth should probably avoid this and purchase the included sports' higher quality counterparts instead.
- + Contains a decent amount of variety
- + Generally easy to pick up and play for gamers of all ages with up to 4 players
- + Music is pretty awesome
- - Most of the included sports are too simple
- - Some button controls feel like cheating / motion controls can be frustrating
- - Generally unpolished with a few glitches