Since the dawn of humankind we homo sapiens have sought to prove ourselves with competitive feats of skill, dexterity or sheer strength. This has taken many forms, but usually involves performing some task in the quickest time, besting your opponent(s) in a physical bout, or scoring the most goals or points or something, usually with a ball of some description.
In these enlightened digital times, it's possible for almost anybody to get off the spectator's bench and start participating in their favourite sport via the wonder of video games, and Nintendo Switch has a host of sports games enabling you to play from the comfort of your couch, regardless of your ability or skill. Yes, you too can be a tennis champ, a pro baller or a wind..., err, jammer.
Below we've picked out - in no particular order - the best sports games on Switch. We've eliminated autosport racers from the lineup here, so if you prefer sports with two or more wheels, best head over to our list of the best racing games on Switch. If you're down with ball games, though, or fancy yourself as an Olympian, you've come to the right place.
So, let's head to the first tee, get on our marks and kick off the best sports games on Switch...
On the face of it Mario Tennis Aces is a fun, arcade-y take on on of the world's most popular racket sports. However, under its colourful facade lies deep mechanics that enable you to employ a variety of strategies to outplay and/or outwit your opponent on the opposite side of the court, whether it be a Mario brother, an anthropomorphic celestial body or a fire-breathing plant with teeth. Alternatively, you can switch to Swing Mode and experience again the glory of Wii Sports, not to mention the infamous 'Wii elbow' that families across the globe endured on Boxing Day 2006.
With lovely presentation and a roster of players that has only grown since launch, this is a thoroughly charming rendition of a thoroughly charming sport that also delivers for Waluigi fans. Game, set and match.
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You could say that this is the best football game on Switch and you wouldn't hear any arguments from us, although it may aggravate some football fans. That said, people tend to get aggravated over the tiniest things, like using the word 'football' instead of 'soccer', for example. You just can't win sometimes.
That is unless you play Rocket League where everyone's a winner, even when you lose as much as we tend to. Combining an accessible arcade-style car experience with a floaty, giant rendition of the beautiful game, its large amount of pop culture DLC might draw people in (a certain demographic will find cars like the Back to the Future DeLorean, Ghostbusters' Ecto-1 and Knight Rider's KITT irresistible), but it's the raucous gameplay and adrenaline hit when your team bundles the ball over the line that keeps us coming back.
So there we are. Rocket League - the best football game on Switch. *runs*
With a solid new story mode, a greatly improved MyTeam mode and the same high quality of presentation that 2K now brings to the series on Switch, NBA 2K21 is now the new definitive basketball game on the system. The unwanted microtransaction ogre continues to loom over most of the package, ever encouraging you to fork out more cash to accelerate your progress, but as long as you're capable of ignoring this and have the patience to slowly improve your player and team organically, the results will be infinitely more satisfying.
If you're after some mean, disc-slingin' two-player action, Data East's cult classic Windjammers is just the game you're looking for. Featuring the same fast and addictive gameplay that had us hooked in 1994, you'll need a second player to really get the best out of this, and fortunately Switch makes playing with a friend a breeze. Its getting a sequel later this year, but until then this is the premier disc-based competitive sports game on the console and well worth (re)discovering.
Sony has stated that MLB The Show will no longer be platform-exclusive to PS4 in the future, but until that arrives on Switch, baseball devotees should be investigating Super Mega Baseball 3. What it lacks in hyperrealism and officially-licensed teams it more than makes up for with a carefully adjusted set of physics that are deep enough to cater to RBI Baseball players while offering up the welcome addition of some improved modes. Franchise mode alone feels like a proper extension of the brand, with its irreverent sense of humour lending a welcome nuance to an otherwise content-heavy sports simulation. Super Mega Baseball 2: Ultimate Edition is still great, but the sequel improves on it and is the best baseball game on Switch as a result - definitely worth a swing if you're into that sort of thing.
A classic arcade-style golf sim from SNK, Neo Turf Masters (or Big Tournament Golf in the US) was a winner on the Neo Geo and it continues to be hugely enjoyable on Switch over two decades on. Hamster's port perfectly replicates the addictive gameplay of the original which grabs you whether you're a fan of spoiling your walks or not.
If you're happy with a more abstract take on whacking a tiny white ball into a distant hole, Golf Peaks is a nice little puzzler that's worth a look and the critically acclaimed What The Golf? is coming to Switch soon. Until Mario and his Mushroom Kingdom pals arrive on Switch's fairway for a twilight round, though, Neo Turf Masters is probably the best pure golf game on Switch. Of course, if you want a little more RPG with your golf game, you'll probably want to investigate our next pick...
If you remember Mario Golf from the Game Boy Color, you'll have a good idea of the sort of experience RPG Golf Story tees up. Fan of deep, realistic simulation might want to steer clear as Golf Story will have you putting your ball skills to use in a wider range of contexts than belting your Titlelist 2 down a boring old fairway. You'll be called upon to feed hungry alligators, knock things off high surfaces and also relax with the occasional round of pitch 'n' putt. Not every game has to be a make-or-break round at Augusta or St Andrews, you know.
Golf Story is lighthearted RPG nonsense of the highest calibre, with a good helping of golf thrown in. It's a very fine indie Switch exclusive and we can't recommend it enough if you're a fan of RPGs, golf or video games in general.
If you reckon realism is overrated in sports-based video games, NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 might be just what you're looking for in a basketball game. Of course, it still features microtransactions and it will take you a while to grind out every player (this is still a 2K title, after all), but the core hoop-shooting experience is a strong one. It's not the NBA Jam-beater 2K positions it as, but if you get a buzz from big heads and a more arcade-y approach on the court, Playgrounds 2 is definitely worth a dunk.
FIFA on Switch is an odd one. If you've never played a modern FIFA game and picked up any of the Switch entries, you'd likely think it's a fine game. You wouldn't be wrong — the base footy experience here is very solid and enjoyable — but veterans of the series will find it hard to overlook the cut corners and caveats of the 'Legacy' Switch versions. These games are missing key modes from their counterparts on PS4 and Xbox One, so if you're FIFA enthusiast with access to those, it's hard to recommend these versions.
If you're not comparing like-for-like, however, and you're just looking for a decent kickaround on Switch, FIFA 18, 19, 20 and 21 deliver a decent game, although the latter two literally updated the kits and player rosters for their respective years and nothing else. Frankly, we've lost patience with EA's cynical attitude to Switch owning series fans, so we'd hunt down a copy of 19.