Harmonix, the fine folks who brought us some of our favorite rhythm games over the years, has a brand new title available on the Nintendo Switch. A cute family friendly rhythm game that brings the rhythm genre to its basics; a fun and easy one to hop into that the whole family can enjoy.
When I say it’s easy to hop in, I do mean it’s easy. The moment you get into the main menu you have access to the game’s 5 different sport-themed rhythm mini-games. Choose one, and you’re off to the races. There is something of a backstory to the game but it’s not important. Music obsessed aliens come to earth and want to challenge players to musical rhythm games, that’s it
The designs of the human characters remind me of the old EA My Sims series of games. Big heads small bodies, overly cute. Not that it’s a bad thing, the look fits very well and hammers home the family atmosphere of the game. The aliens you encounter are very Dreamworks-esque. Again, not a bad thing at all! As you compete in the various rhythm games you’ll unlock new gear for your character and new “bats” to equip. Your characters are very customizable in this way and as a nice bonus, you can change your character’s skin color. None of the items really do anything other than lets you change your look, but it’s still fun to be able to deck your character out in some wacky garb while holding a cricket bat or lawn gnome, or whatever.
As I mentioned earlier, the game is fun, but not all of the 5 games are winners. That also will depend on how many people you’ll have to play with you. The game supports up to 4 players in a few of the games with a couple only at 2 or less. The first game on the list is Whacky Bat and personally my favorite. It seems this was the main mode Harmonix focused on too as it’s the one with the most music to unlock at around 27. None of the tracks in the game are licensed which honestly doesn’t harm this game in any way. Again, not all the tracks are good but boy there sure are some catchy tunes mixed in.
The basic premise of Whacky Bat is to have your character hit back baseballs in the same rhythm they are thrown to you. There are multiple lanes and the aliens can appear on any of them. So it’s your job to move back and forth, following the rhythm, and keeping a high combo going. There are 4 states to your hits: miss, early, perfect, and late. The game felt forgiving when it came to getting perfects in the early stages, but things do get challenging later on. Net Ball is next and coincidentally my second most enjoyed game in this collection. In this one you’re playing doubles volleyball; there’s no changing of lanes here. All you need to do is listen to the rhythm and watch the ball get volleyed to everyone. Instead of copying the rhythm like in Whacky Bat, you’ll have to play a note in the rhythm sequence. So pay attention to when the ball comes your way and stay in rhythm with the song. Net Ball has far fewer tracks at 15 but I didn’t mind replaying a few here or there; I enjoyed most of them.
The other three mini-games are hit or miss really, with Gobble Golf being perhaps the least fun of the group. Aliens are positioned across multiple platforms and will open their mouths to the beat. Your job is to hit the ball in the correct order, in the correct rhythm. Think of this one as a game of Simon. Because you have to listen to the pattern then repeat, it feels slow and drawn out.
The next two games are more focused on player vs player. In Buddy Ball, you’re faced with aiming your shot at one of three aliens on screen. Depending on what type of alien is at that location will determine the type of speed that the ball will bounce back to the opposing player. After the alien has received the ball, they can swap out for another type of alien or a bomb. Hit the bomb and you lose a life. Miss the volley and you will lose a life. Once you’re out of lives the game is over. The mode is ok and if you got a friend or family member who is good, this mode can get pretty hectic. Because you’re basically choosing where the ball is going and at what speed it’s being thrown, you won’t be paying attention to the rhythm of the music in this one.
Finally, you have Rhythm Racket which is very Pong-esque or Windjammers-like. You volley a ball back and forth between players with a changing midfield. The object is to defend your goal. You can bunt the ball for a slow hit, you can aim where the ball goes, you can pop the ball into the air for a timed quick hit. There’s a strategy element here that supersedes the rhythm aspect to the game. As with Buddy Ball, you’re given a life count and whenever you let a ball through your goal, you lose a life. Player left standing wins. The competitive nature of this one can lead to some serious battles and again if you’re up against someone good, can make things pretty exciting. But neither this or Buddy Ball can match up to the first two games.
If you find yourself thinking that the games are too easy, the game will unlock for you a Pro Mode. Get a high enough medal in any of the games and Pro Mode for that game will become available. Pro Mode throws you faster and more frequent hits to the rhythm and it’s tough. It’s still fun but can get tough.
The controls are super simple so as you can imagine, you can play this game with a variety of controller combinations. Handheld, Table, or TV modes. Single Joy-Cons, both Joy-Cons, Pro Controllers, etc… so if you’re in a party setting or you prefer to play in a certain way, Super Beat Sports won’t hold you back. I played in TV mode and in handheld and it’s fine. No hiccups or any technical issues between modes. There isn’t an online leaderboard or any online play at all. The closest you’ll get is doing local wireless play which I was unable to test for this review.
Super Beat Sports is $15 and I think it’s right in the ballpark of where it should be. For what you get out of this game and the enjoyment you can have with a group of friends, $15 seems like money well spent.
A Nintendo Switch eShop code was provided by the publisher for review purposes