Harmonix is back once again with a small digital title for the newly loved Nintendo Switch platform and it’s available now on the eShop. Super Beat Sports is an upgraded version of Beat Sports that originally debuted on the Apple TV device back in 2015. The game is certainly an upgrade, but I was pretty upset by the lackluster single player mode.
Super Beat Sports consists of five sports: Whacky Bat, Net Ball, Gobble Golf, Buddy Ball, and Rhythm Racket. The first three feature campaigns that can be played through either solo or cooperatively with a friend while the latter two are full-fledged competitive sports that can be enjoyed with up to four players. No matter which sport you decide to play, you’ll be surprised how simple the gameplay is. If you’re a young or old gamer or anywhere in between, I imagine anyone can get some enjoyment out of these sports. Kids will get a kick out of the easily accessible gameplay while more capable players can aim for high scores. Although each game features a different skin, they are all essentially the same. There are over 100 levels to play through, and even an optional Pro Mode, but everything gets repetitive. Each tune also lack any significant personality, especially for a title geared solely around music. The Mii-like visual style fits the bubbly personality of the cartoony vibe but also doesn’t stand out.
The world presented in Super Beat Sports is full of alien creatures and cheerful human characters. It comes to life with some great animation, a vibrant color schemes, and truly imaginative scenarios. Super Beat Sports is at its best when it’s at its simplest. The controls are never more complicated than press a single button and move to either side. Things do get quite difficult though, especially when the tempo starts to increase and the balls are soaring towards you, giving you mere seconds to react. If you connect with the ball you are rated on a scale of ‘Late’, ‘Early’, or ‘Perfect’. The higher your streak and the more perfects you rack up, the better you do. In my time with the game, it’s not very hard to get a perfect hit. It’s not so much about listening to the rhythm the balls come at you, as just eyeing the projectiles and sending them rocketing back at the perfect time. Eagle-eyed players will have no trouble earning at least a gold medal on most levels. Earn a gold medal in an event and you’ll unlock Pro Mode which makes things much more fast-paced, adding extra lanes to move between and much more complex ball patterns for you to follow. If you find the main game too slow-paced, jump over to this mode as soon as you can and you’ll get a challenge.
Whacky Bat is a spin on baseball in which the player hits pitches from Muzicalians, cartoonish looking aliens. Pitching from multiple lanes and different speeds and curves, the goal is to return each hit in succession to build a streak for higher point totals. Net Ball is basically volleyball only with sticks which actually makes it more like a game of tennis and the difference here is that sometimes the ball with bounce back and forth between computer AI characters before coming to you. Buddy Ball is like a new take on Whacky Bat in which the player hits a ball back to one of three characters. Depending on who returns it, it will come back to the player at different speeds. Instead of playing until a song ends, the last player standing wins. In Gobble Golf, the player has to hit golf balls into the mouths of aliens on the other side of the screen according to the music. Upon success, the alien with retreat and put up a white flag. Finally, exclusive to the Switch version, Rhythm Racket is basically a 1-4 player of Pong and is the most complex. Like all the other games, the goal is to tap the button in sync with the music. If done perfectly, the player will send the ball across the court while opening control of neutral alien defenders.
Of all the events that are offered, Whacky Bat has the most to offer. With nine tiers to bat your way through, it is the longest event in the game by far. Zipping between the three lanes, swatting the balls back at the various aliens, each with their own speeds and styles kind of just grows old quickly. As you progress through the levels the game gets quite difficult though. I never failed out of an event or performed poorly, but I found myself hitting balls seconds too late, bringing down my score as the tempo climbed. Your reward for performing well, other than the satisfaction of seeing a small gold ribbon next to every level, is a series of collectible bats, clubs and outfits. These are purely cosmetic.