Categories crunchfx

Basketball Sports on Nintendo Switch is delightfully malicious fun

Basketball has just arrived on Nintendo Switch Sports. A new sport means a new arena, so the all-important question is: what is the new restaurant like? Reader, it looks great. There’s a graceful archway building behind the court, a sort of understated Zaha Hadid number. There’s a glass-fronted cafe lit by hanging plants and glowing amber ceilings at one end. On the other side is a deck with seating looking out at the warm sky. Sure, you risk getting a Spalding Size 7 in your cortado, but here are the deals.

And the basketball itself is honestly just as enjoyable. I love getting a free update to a game I already own, and this one is a treat. The main event is a two-on-two that you can play solo, with friends, or online. Each team is split between offense and defense, and the most surprising takeaway by far is that defense may be the most important role of both.

Attacking is great fun, of course. Set yourself up for a shot by shaking the Joy-Con and dribbling, then squeezing the trigger, then snapping your wrist to send the ball home – or bouncing it off the backboard. It’s fast and responsive, and the physics are fantastic. Watching a ball bounce around before deciding not to go in is surprisingly entertaining. Failure has never been more appealing.

Basketball on Nintendo Switch Sports. Watch on YouTube

When you’re on offense, you can also pass the ball to your partner, as long as they create space and then they can dribble, shoot or pass back. That’s all good. But when you’re on defense, the basketball suddenly opens its eyes and shows its teeth. Being on defense is a bitter pleasure.

That’s because — and there’s no nice way to put it — defending is about ruining someone’s fun. Flick up to block a shot, flick down to mark someone about to run around and receive a pass. They’re all good. But the best is the side-swing, which gives you a naughty little swipe to knock the ball out of someone’s hands. It’s great when you’re dribbling, but even better when you’re about to shoot. It’s a full stop in the middle of a sentence. It’s delicious or annoying, depending on which side you’re on.

Two-two is a pleasure, and I would say it’s a bit stop-and-go, but I once watched a basketball game at Madison Square Garden – the Celtics were out of shape and yet the Knicks still lost – and so I would say the tempo is right. There are other pleasures besides two-two, anyway, and they can be the real stars here.

They all feature variations on three-pointers. In three-pointers, you play solo and try to make as many shots as you can within a time limit, catching the ball, shooting, and then catching another. It’s a nice bit of arcade fun with plenty of potential for chasing high scores.

The cool thing is that you can do this with your friends as a three-point shooting contest, where four of you stand in a line and shoot at the same time, or as a five-shot challenge, where you have to make five baskets in a row without missing a shot, which is the real Elden Lord of basketball.

That’s hard enough on its own, but the crazy fun of the game is that you’re all shooting at the same time, so four different-coloured basketballs are racing to get to the same basket, pushing each other, colliding, hitting each other, and straight-up missing. Stand back and it looks a bit like fireworks. Fireworks! And really, that’s the only thing Nintendo Switch Sports is missing at this point.