Sports Party is just what the title suggests. It’s a party game that is based around sports, albeit they lean towards more casual games than sports. While Sports Party tries the games are too simplistic and limited to make the game a real party.
Sports Party comes packed with six sports to choose from – golf, beach tennis, basketball, skateboarding, frisbee, and Jet-ski. Arguably the best of the bunch is golf, which feels the most fleshed out of the package. But even golf suffers from an overall trend of the game – it’s too easy.
Some games fall into the fault of making simple games overly complicated. Its the opposite here.
Beach Tennis is about as basic as can be, so much so that it’s not fun at all. The game is controlled with one button – one button only! You can literally play the entire match with the A button. For the entirety of the matches, the game automatically moves your character to the ball for you. All you do is press one button to return the shot. There is a power meter which powers up a charge shot, but it’s mostly meaningless. Even on a harder difficulty its virtually impossible to miss the ball so its just a waiting game for your opponent to miss first.
You can literally mash the A button to return shots easily. Even serving is only one button press and doesn’t take any skill or timing.
In doubles matches it’s actually possible to return virtually every shot from the front row by hitting A nonstop. Mash the A button constantly will also let you perfectly return power shots. Doubles adds some more variety but the basic and simplicity makes it not much fun.
Basketball isn’t much better and is a bare bones basketball 2-vs-2 first to 21 game. The characters move very slowly and there is no way to make them run or speed up. The game of basketball is pretty simple control wise. The one button shoot, pass, change character control scheme suits the game just fine, however there is some pizzazz lacking.
It would have been nice to have some special moves. Maybe a nice spin move to deke out your opponent or some fancier passing. You can of course shoot layups, dunk, or throw field goals and three-pointers, but the whole package feels too plain.
There is no out of bounds and the ball bounces off an invisible wall. This does make the game a little quicker without the need to continually stop and start, so I’m inclined to let that go overall based on the casual nature of the game.
There is also a 3 point contest mode, but this is also way too simple. You press one button to request the ball and same button to shoot. Once you get the timing down for shots it’s easy to get a perfect round every time.
Skateboard is another very easy mode. Playing kind of like F-Zero, Skateboard is a downhill race with the track filled with sporadic boosts on the ground to accelerate your character. There are some shortcuts through the race that shaves some time off but you can’t off-road at all. If you try to veer off the track you’ll hit an invisible wall and be redirected on course.
The CPU opponents are also way too easy. I once tried to go backwards at the start (I hit the invisible wall and was forced forward) and I still won the race without accelerating or hitting boosts intentionally.
There is also a checkpoint mode which is like a slalom course. There is no time limit or countdown though to encourage you to hustle and there is no penalty for going slow. And since you can’t crash, you’re guaranteed finish on every race.
Golf is one of the better minigames in the package. It has a very basic charge and release meter for hitting ball which works well enough. Aiming is easy and there aren’t too many external factors to content with and things like the wind don’t get in the way too much. There are three courses one with 3, 6, and 9 holes long.
One thing that got annoying however was that every shot defaults on practice swing at the start of a stoke. It got frustrating as I kept swinging at nothing half the time before I realise and move my character closer to the ball. Also the need to keep accepting that its my turn before every stroke even in single player mode is also a pain.
Golf also suffers from being a bit too easy as well. Did you know that it’s called an Albatross when you score three shots under par on a hole? I certainly didn’t and I’ve never done that well in a hole in any golf video game – ever, but I did here.
Frisbee is about the best of the bunch. There are two modes in this one with party and target mode.
In party mode you toss your frisbee at targets that pop up either in the middle, left, or right. The first player to hit the target wins gets the points and the highest score wins. You are rewarded either +1, +3 for special target, or -2 for red target. In controller mode use joystick to aim and button to toss. In motion mode you use button to select which zone and motion to throws frisbee
Party mode feels like a Mario party mini game. Certainly fun to play but there definitely needs to be more to it.
Target mode is more fun and plays only in motion mode. A target market appears and you use the motion control to aim and throw the frisbee. It’s very accurate and makes great use of the motion control. There is some nuance to aiming your shots just right and it’s a mode that I played multiple times willingly and enjoyed each time.
Jet ski is the final sport in the party. It can be played with one Joy-Con in motion mode with tilt steering to steer the jet ski but is better played with regular controls. Races are pretty basic with boosts and ramps and makes me long for a Switch Wave Race game. You can collect power ups to boost your Jet-Ski, but it isn’t very responsive to hard turns.
Overall there there really isn’t very good acceleration and it feels like you’re going pretty slowly but the races look beautiful though.
There is a Championship mode which lets you string together a random circuit of either 3, 6, or 9 game challenges in a row. The game will give you three random modes to choose from and the winner from the previous round, who numerously wears a crown in the next event to show they’re winning, gets to pick the next event. Invariably since there are so few events to choose from the selection gets pretty repetitive.
The music in Sports Party is very upbeat, catchy, and fun. It really adds to the tropical island feel of the game and definitely gives out vacation vibes. There is also a pretty fair amount of customization you can do with the avatars you play with in the game. I was able to make an avatar that looks pretty close to me.
Overall Sports Party suffers from being just too basic. There isn’t any complexity in the controls, not enough variety in the modes, and it feels very much like the game holds your hand way too much.