There are some games that have a harder time than others convincing the world they should exist. Hyper Sports R is one of those games.
It’s not a bad game; it just doesn’t offer anything that other games like it—the sports-related mini-game compilation—do.
Hyper Sports R, a remake of a 1984 arcade game for the Nintendo Switch, is a definite throwback to a simpler time, when quickly pressing A and then B to get your character to sprint before timing another button press for, say, a long jump was a new form of gameplay. This time, though, you don’t have to mash buttons. You can also choose to wildly flail your arms.
At my hands-on demo with the game at E3 2018, I got to play three different track & field events: the 100-meter dash, the javelin throw, and the long jump. The 100-meter dash was the only one playable with motion controls, and that basically just meant I had to move my arms back and forth really fast while sitting down. Playing it manually, by holding the Joy-Con sideways, felt more like a button-mashing throwback, but the Joy-Cons tiny buttons are just not suited for that kind of mashing.
The javelin and long jump were a little more interesting. You actually had to time a third button press to get an accurate throw or a long, you know, jump. Motion controls weren’t accessible for those events in this demo, so I’m not sure exactly how that would play out, but I’d imagine you’d simply move your arms back and forth and then, I don’t know, shoot them forward when you wanted to jump probably.
In the full game, there will be seven track & field events, some swimming events, beach volleyball, and “more to come. The problem is that games like this already exist in the form of the Mario and Sonic at the Olympics games, and those have recognizable and beloved characters. Hyper Sports R‘s characters, while charming, are basically just 3D versions of the kinds of avatars you’d expect in an original NES sports game. In other words, they’re nothing special.
There’s a campaign mode where players recruit new characters to their team, then new sponsorships, and then new coaches who give characters on that team stat boosts. It sounds surprisingly deep for a game that’s being marketed as a pickup-and-play replacement for Wii Sports.
That’s Hyper Sports R‘s biggest selling point: Nintendo forgot to make a Wii Sports for the Switch. This is a party game at its core. There will be online multiplayer—and no microtransactions, the PR rep excitedly told us, since that’s now a necessary qualification for literally every video game, I guess. Good for you, Hyper Sports R. You really bucked the trend there.
I honestly want to like Hyper Sports R, and I hope that the developer can smooth out some of the weird jankiness with the controls, motion or otherwise. It could be a fun party game, for a particular price, but right now it leaves me with one question: Why?