Archives by Day

May 2024

Super Beat Sports

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Genre: Rhythm
Developer: Harmonix Music Systems
Release Date: Oct. 12, 2017

About Andreas Salmen

I'm sure this is all just a misunderstanding.


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

Switch Review - 'Super Beat Sports'

by Andreas Salmen on Nov. 22, 2017 @ 2:00 a.m. PST

Based on the Apple TV game Beat Sports, which pit players against rhythm-loving aliens from the Muzicalian galaxy, Super Beat Sports is packed with additional content and exclusive features.

Buy Super Beat Sports

Although the Nintendo Switch has extensive motion control abilities, we have been spared the slew of weird and tacky games that plagued the Wii. It was just a matter of time until we'd see another game in the vein of Wii Sports so we can swing a virtual baseball bat, and Super Beat Sports is that game. The title from Rock Band developer Harmonix is a weird yet refreshing mix of Wii Sports and an addictive co-op rhythm game.

The Switch is not the first platform for Super Beat Sports, as the original, Beat Sports, was released in 2015 for the Apple TV. Compared to the original release, this "Super" version for the Switch has gained an additional rhythm-based minigame and utilizes the motion control features.

The premise of Super Beat Sports is that we have to beat sports-based levels to the sound of original tunes. We, the human player, take part in some sort of alien sports event and have to square off against mostly alien opponents who test our skills in swinging bats and hitting balls in the exact rhythm of the music. Seems nonsensical? It is, but it's all so cute while doing it, so it may be forgiven.

It is quickly apparent that the sports theme is merely a front for the usual rhythm game mechanics:  Hit the right thing at the right time in the right rhythm. There are five available game modes, three of which can be played cooperatively with a friend while the other two support up to four players competitively.

In the co-op bunch, Whacky Bat reminds us of Harmonix's more traditional music roots. Aliens, who are conveniently call Musicalians, appear on three lanes – five lanes as you progress – and throw baseballs at us. We can move across the lanes and have to hit the cues in the right rhythm to toss the ball back at them so the aliens disappear. What sounds like an easy task quickly picks up speed as more aliens join and toss baseballs at you at varying speeds and angles. The challenge arises through several different aliens being active at once, either requiring us to change lanes quickly or to memorize several throw patterns while changing from one lane to another. The final portion of each level is comprised of a robot throwing curve balls, which can be tough to hit in the beginning, but the sound cues help you figure out when to best hit a home run. Even though it hides behind a simple facade, there is a surprising amount of skill and rhythmic feel required to master the later stages.

As soon as a second player joins the game, aliens are color-coded, so players have to organize depending on which colors are being thrown at them. There are neutral aliens that anyone can bat away, and some may even throw at an elevated height so players have to stack on top of each other to reach high throws. Whacky Bat is definitely the co-op star because it is fleshed out enough and incorporates more than plain reactions. It requires rhythmic feeling and is heavily reliant on communication in order to play together successfully . It is also the mode with the most available levels, all 27 of which can be played in normal and a pro mode.

The next co-op mode is Net Ball, which has players bringing a baseball bat to a volleyball game. This mode is more musical than Whacky Bat, though it emphasizes reaction time. The ball is played back and forth between two teams, so it's very fluid and more recognizable in the music department. Once we hit and return enough balls, we set up for a smash bat to score and eventually win the match. When playing cooperatively, balls also have different associated colors to identify who has to hit the ball. Unlike the other mode, cooperation is effectively nonexistent here. It's just a shared effort of testing reaction skills across 15 levels, which are also available in normal and pro modes. It's still enjoyable enough thanks to the catchy alien tunes.

The third co-op mode is Gobble Golf, which has aliens gobbling golf balls. It's a culinary sports adventure for the entire family! This is the weakest of the three modes. Players go through several rounds and face off against aliens jumping on three platforms in front of us. Our job is to time our golf swings to hit the aliens with the golf ball while they're in the air. Prior to each round, the musical pattern of their appearance is shown once before we can hit balls at them. It's a mixture of timing and Simon Says, but it's not exciting, fast or musically enticing enough to get some momentum going. When playing with a friend, we're faced with different-colored balls like in other modes, but even then, the mode isn't gripping at all. Even though there are different aliens that mix things up in later levels (12 in total, again with normal and pro modes available), Gobble Golf isn't a great mode, especially when the other two are far superior in comparison.

The competitive modes are where things get more mixed-up. Buddy Ball and Rhythm Racket can be played with up to four players locally. Both of them have rhythm and music incorporated in some form, but unlike the co-op modes, they don't feature a set song or notes that have to be hit at the right time.

Buddy Ball has competing players batting balls at aliens on platforms. Based on which alien is on the platform, the ball bounces back at different speeds, making it potentially harder for our opponent to hit. Everyone has a certain number of lives, and one is lost with every missed ball. Once an alien is hit several times, it leaves behind an item that slightly changes the setup. It's a game that's incredibly reliant on reflexes and becomes rather chaotic. It's a fun and short-lived competitive mode, but it feels somewhat limited in its potential because it doesn't offer much variety.

The ultimate star of the game is Rhythm Racket, a competitive mode that could warrant a game on its own. It's a mixture of air hockey, Arkanoid and pinball. Every participating player is in charge of protecting his/her goal while playing the ball across the field and trying to score on an opponent. With every scored goal, the field changes, and aliens, breakable blocks and bumpers appear, all attempting to divert the ball. Every object hit makes a distinct sound, so this mode creates its own fascinating trance music. The setting creates fierce battles with opponents, and the mode feels like techno air hockey on steroids, which is definitely a compliment.

Super Beat Sports is a cute and well-crafted rhythm game from a developer that knows how music in games should work, and  it shows. The visuals are clearly aimed at a younger and family-oriented audience, but that doesn't mean it's an easy game. It may be incredibly forgiving, and players can't "fail" a level, but levels still pack a punch. Throughout the game, we earn medals based on performance and receive some gear to visually customize our player characters. It's a welcome addition to any party game.

Overall, the controls work as they should, either with motion controls or with the press of a button. The motion controls are more accurate than I initially expected, but the use of buttons is the more convenient choice if your goal is achieving a new high score.

Super Beat Sports is a fun rhythm game that's one of the better co-op and competitive offerings on the Switch. Some game modes may be hit-and-miss, but this is an above-average title. The Whacky Ball and Rhythm Racket modes were the most fun I've had with a local multiplayer in a long time, and I'd recommend the purchase of Super Beat Sports based on those two modes alone.

Score: 7.5/10

More articles about Super Beat Sports
blog comments powered by Disqus