Nintendo Switch Sports was released last week and according to most accounts it is a fun entertainment game. Just like its predecessors on the Wii and Wii U, it offers an affordable download and gaming experience that is particularly appealing to more casual gamers.
While I’m pretty pleased to see the beloved series coming back – especially since it’s a title my agnostic viewer has shown some interest in – it’s another example of a problem that is becoming more common with Nintendo titles: a serious lack of content.
Of course, games that are highlighted on content are by no means exclusive to Nintendo – almost every publisher is to blame for releasing them sometimes – but Nintendo has a worrying habit of releasing titles that can be fully experienced in just over a weekend. And this trend worried me a lot about the future of Nintendo games.
Nintendo Switch Sports is seriously rare
At launch, Nintendo Switch Sports offers six sports: tennis, bowling, fencing, soccer, volleyball and badminton. It’s a relatively modest selection of mini-games to release at the full price of $ 50 (although it comes with a leg strap).
Admittedly, this is another event more than the original Wii Sports offered, but that game was packed into every Wii console in the US and Europe. It was essentially a free program designed to show the potential of controlling the movement of the system.
The current amount of Nintendo Switch Sports content looks particularly stingy compared to the 2009 Wii Sports Resort, which included a dozen options. This list has been further expanded with several sports that have alternative game modes that have really shaken the formula.
Admittedly, the Switch Sports includes a version of obstacle course bowling, three small variations of the fencing chambers and a football mode called spot-kick that uses a Joy-Con leg strap included in physical copies of the game, but compared to its direct predecessor offers significantly less contents from the box.
Nintendo Switch Sports at least offers the most powerful online package series to date. However, you still play the same six sports, even if you do it against players from all over the world. The online game adds novelty, not to mention the more challenging opponents you may face than your family members, but it’s hardly a revolutionary involvement that justifies a small selection of key events in the game.
Nintendo is becoming a habit
Switch Sports is far from an isolated case when it comes to Nintendo Switch games that lack significant content. In fact, it is starting to become a worrying trend with exclusive first-party products.
Last year’s Mario Golf Super Rush is another great example. While the core of the game was quite interesting, not to mention very sleek, there just wasn’t enough content at launch. The game offered only six courses, no customization options, and there wasn’t even an online tournament feature. Not to mention how the single player story mode could be completed in about four hours.
Another Nintendo sports title that suffered from a lack of content was Mario Tennis Aces, who had almost all the same problems as his golf counterpart. These two games have pretty worried me about how much content Mario Strikers Battle League will launch this summer.
In fact, a recent Japanese trailer for the upcoming Mario football game has confirmed that the game will only have 10 characters to play at launch. This is a pretty small list when you consider that matches are 4 on 4, and I would certainly suggest that Battle League will be another Mario sports game that lacks a content department.
It’s not just Nintendo sports games that suffer from this problem. Splatoon 2 received similar criticism at its launch in 2017, as did the Super Mario Party when it was released in 2018 – although its sequel, Mario Party Superstars, was more warmly received in that regard.
Publish now, patch up later
Over the last two generations of consoles, Nintendo has received many well-deserved accolades for consistently releasing complete games that didn’t actually require post-launch patches because they were very sleek from day one.
This approach was in stark contrast to that of many other game publishers, who seemed content to publish games in poor countries, confident that they could be patched up to a more acceptable state later.
Unfortunately, Nintendo now seems to be back in a similar strategy with some of its games. During the Switch lifecycle, as mentioned above, several semi-buck games have been released, with the promise that improvements will come later through post-launch updates – the only difference being that these updates added content instead of bug fixes.
For example, it has already been announced that Nintendo Switch Sports will increase its list of sports. It has been confirmed that the Golf will be launched this fall, and the summer update will allow the use of leg straps in regular football matches (currently exclusively for the aforementioned shooting mode).
This is welcome news, but I can’t help but wonder why the game wasn’t released with this already included. If that meant the release date needed to be moved by a few months, so be it. After all, you only have one chance to make a first impression.
Nintendo has also taken a similar approach with Mario Golf Super Rush: in the months after its launch, three new courses have been added. These free updates were appreciated, but I would argue that they did nothing but bring the game into the form it was supposed to be when released. It already looks like history will repeat itself with Nintendo Switch Sports.
Nintendo still has a lot of fully equipped games
It’s important to note that games like Nintendo Switch Sports and Mario Golf Rush are probably the exceptions, not the rule. Over the past five years, Nintendo has released a host of feature-rich games that have become some of my favorite gaming experiences of all time.
No one has rated The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Mario Odyssey for lack of content. In fact, both games will occupy the graduates for tens of hours. Similarly, recent Switch titles like Metroid Dread, Pokemon Legends: Arceus and Kirby and Forgotten Land could not be considered anything but fully equipped at launch.
However, I find it disappointing that Nintendo does not seem to take the same approach when it comes to other titles in its stable. I’m also afraid that players who accept a lack of content in smaller games might end up seeing the problem bleed in leading titles like Breath of the Wild 2 or the next major entry into Mario, which would really be bullshit.
Even if that fear ultimately proves unfounded, it’s still disappointing that titles like Nintendo Switch Sports don’t reach their full launch potential. Ultimately, no game should require patches after launch to feel like a complete product.