Nintendo Switch Sports Basketball – A slam dunk or a missed shot?

Nintendo Switch Sports Basketball
Image: Nintendo Life

It’s been nearly two years since Nintendo Switch Sports’ last major update, with the addition of Golf. The patch definitely left us “blown away” – it was a nice addition, but nothing special after playing Wii Sports and its Resort successor. With Basketball the latest sport to join the roster, we were expecting more of the same. And after testing out all the game modes in single-player and local multiplayer, we were right to be confident in our assumptions.

Like the other seven sports available, basketball offers a watered-down version of shooting hoops with simple controls that will have you picked up and playing in minutes. Tilt the Joy-Con up and down to dribble the ball, press ‘X’ to pass the ball, and hold ZR and flick your wrist to shoot. Those after-crossover moves and alley-oop plays are best found elsewhere (though even NBA 2K has fallen off a bit on Switch of late), but if you want to get out on the virtual court with everyone from your friends to your parents, the simplicity of Switch Sports is still hard to beat.

Nintendo Switch Sports Basketball
Image: Nintendo Life

The update brings a decent number of game modes – even if the central difference is ‘you can dribble the ball’ or ‘you can’t dribble the ball’. There’s ‘Two-on-Two’ and ‘Three-Point Challenge’ in single-player, and an additional ‘Three-Point Contest’ and ‘Five-Streak Battle’ in multiplayer. The latter three of these are all about sinking as many shots as possible from three-point range, so don’t expect drastically changes to the gameplay, but a few flashy new basketball outfits will at least make your avatar look good.

As with every sport on the Switch game, basketball is best enjoyed with others. The “shake Joy-Con to move” control scheme, which had us rolling our eyes at the inconsistent reaction times during solo play, was an amusing equalizer in multiplayer. Even the Five-Streak Challenge – which, you might have guessed, revolves around draining five shots in a row – provides plenty of game-night laughs, as balls bounce off each other and disrupt routes to the basket when shot at the same time.

It all feels a bit like Basketball on Wii Sports Resort, and it is. The controls feel a little wooden and the gameplay is still very stop-and-start in the Two-on-Two matches (as everything stops and resets after every shot or turnover), making this more of a trip down memory lane for those who played the 2009 sequel than anything new.

Granted, pesky network errors on our end meant we weren’t able to play any of the modes with online match-ups at the time of writing (the biggest difference from its Wii counterpart), but we can’t imagine the added ability to play with ballers from all over the world would make this series veteran a Switch Sports MVP. That said, we’ll be sure to keep you updated on our online impressions once we get a chance to try it out.

Nintendo Switch Sports Basketball
Image: Nintendo Life

Like golf in 2022, it’s hard to knock basketball as a free update. It’s a bonus sport, and it’s free. We’d also be lying if we said the Nintendo Switch Sports package didn’t become a little more appealing with its arrival – eight sports is better than six, after all. But unless the mode was your absolute favourite on Wii, this isn’t going to be the addition that makes you drop £50 on the game.

We really hope there’s more to come for Nintendo Switch Sports in the future (Baseball still feels like a no-brainer), because there’s still a lot of fun to be had here and the Basketball update only adds to that. If this is the end, though, then it seems fitting that it ends on the same, safe note it began on in 2022.

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