The Best Sports Games Exclusive To The Switch

Whenever you feel like playing a sports game alone or with friends, the Nintendo Switch may not be the first console that comes to mind for stellar graphics and Triple-A titles. Most licensed sports games, such as NHL and Madden, don’t even get released on Nintendo’s hybrid unit.

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Nintendo has never relied on third-party support for success, though. Despite not having some of the most successful titles in the industry on its platform, the company circumvents this issue by releasing its own sports games, usually starring Mario and his companions. The Nintendo Switch has more exclusive sports games than the PS5 and Xbox, but they can’t all be a hole-in-one.

Updated on September 3, 2023 by Kyle Chamaillard: There hasn’t been an exclusive sports game for the Nintendo Switch in a little while — sorry to anyone waiting for an official Mario Lacrosse — but we recently decided to hop back into this list to make sure it’s up-to-date and organized.

8 Soccer Slammers

Soccer Slammers England v. Sweden cubes play soccer on a basic field

Most exclusive sports games on the Switch star Nintendo characters competing against one another for glory. Soccer Slammers is one of the few exceptions, and it feels like it could have benefited from either a cameo or some kind of twist.

This arcade-style soccer game features two-versus-two matches, with dull gameplay and bland environments. It’s also incredibly light on content. This is disappointing because the director, Jools Watsham — who created the excellent Mutant Mudds series — wasn’t able to adapt those games’ charming aesthetic and engaging gameplay over to Soccer Slammers.

7 Sports Story

A group of people play volleyball, golf, cricket, and fish a tennis ball out of a lake

Golf Story was one of the many excellent games available on the Switch during its first year and became one of the best examples of why independent developers should put their games on the console. A sequel was announced in 2019 with the promise of including more sports and activities, but Sports Story dropped the ball with its disappointing gameplay and structure.

After numerous delays, Sports Story was eventually shadow-dropped during the final weeks of 2022 without any marketing attached to it. It was strange to see one of the Switch’s most anticipated games come out like this, but it turns out the game is full of glitches and bugs that hinder the entire experience. Updates and patches can fix these over time, but Sports Story should have been given more time to iron out its problems before becoming available to the public.

6 Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

8 and 16 bit Sonic, Mario, Luigi, Tails race in a sprint

Mario and Sonic started facing off at the Olympics for the Wii, and the rivals still meet up every few years for the next showdown. The two mascots, alongside their friends and enemies, participate in events like baton twirling, boxing, and gymnastics to see who can take home the gold.

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Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 excels at offering a wide variety of playable characters and events but doesn’t provide either with enough depth to truly challenge you. The game is at its best when you’re playing with friends, as the single-player mode is very dry and playing against the CPU is equally mind-numbing. The inclusion of 16-bit events is fun for a while but loses its appeal after playing it a couple of times.

Mario Strikers Battle League a green shell moves across the field during a match

Mario, Luigi, and the rest of the crew have not spent nearly as much time playing soccer as they have tennis or golf. Most Mario sports games began on either the NES or N64, but the first Mario Strikers game was released for the GameCube in 2005, with a sequel coming to the Wii only a couple of years later.

Over a decade later, Mario Strikers is back, and while it’s exciting to see its return, Battle League doesn’t offer anything new to the series and has even less content than its predecessors. The biggest change is the introduction of the gear system, which allows you to customize a character with new clothes that also affect their stats. Next Level Games have been on a roll with the last two Luigi’s Mansion entries, so it’s surprising to see them drop the ball with Mario Strikers: Battle League.

4 Mario Golf: Super Rush

Mario, Wario, Yoshi, Rosalina run across the golf course on a sunny day

Golf is typically a slower sport that many enjoy playing with friends to unwind and have a good time. The Mario Golf series has always been able to emulate a similar feeling from the comfort of your own home. A colorful roster of characters and dozens of creative courses have defined the series for a long time, and Mario Golf: Super Rush mostly continues to carry that torch.

Like the other Mario sports titles for Switch, one of the major criticisms against Super Rush was its lack of content at launch. Over a year later, the game is still receiving new content, but that wasn’t the only issue. Super Rush introduces a new mode called Speed Golf, in which players race to see who can land their ball in the hole the fastest. It’s once again an interesting gimmick that quickly loses its appeal after only a few rounds.

3 Mario Tennis Aces

Mario Tennis Mario prepares to take a power shot

When he’s not saving Princess Peach from Bowser or making a movie, Mario can usually be found partying, driving race karts, or playing a match of tennis with his companions. The first time you could see Mario on the court was on the Virtual Boy in 1995, and almost three decades later, his backswing has never been better.

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After Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash for the Wii U failed to capture audiences, there was a lot of pressure for Mario Tennis Aces to restore the brand’s reputation. Fortunately, Aces fixes many of the issues in its predecessor by including tighter controls, fewer gimmicks, and a fun single-player campaign. It’s still missing some of the multiplayer modes that helped make the N64 and GameCube versions infamous, but it’s still a good game to play alone or with friends.

2 Nintendo Switch Sports

A Mii takes a swing in Badminton during a doubles match

It’s hard to believe that it took Nintendo five years to release a spiritual successor to Wii Sports on the Switch. The original is one of the most popular games of all time, and the Joy-Con is perfect for replicating the simple and intuitive controls that were essential to Wii Sports’ success.

Nintendo Switch Sports includes familiar sports like tennis and bowling, while also introducing the likes of badminton and soccer. Unlike Wii Sports, you can face off against other players online and collect new clothing items and emotes for your avatar. More sports are set to be released in the future, and if they are as fun to play as the current crop, then Nintendo Switch Sports has the potential to become an essential game for every Switch owner.

1 Golf Story

Golfer stands on a golf course above the clouds

Golf Story was originally supposed to be released on the Wii U. It was delayed many times, and with the help of Nintendo, was eventually released on the Switch in 2017. Not only is Golf Story the first exclusive sports game on the console, but it is still the best and most compelling game in the lineup.

Golf Story is ultimately more than a sports game; it’s also an RPG full of fascinating characters and a fantastic story. It’s refreshing to mingle with the locals between rounds and spend your hard-earned cash on new equipment and skills. Golfing is intuitive, so it’s a great game, even for people unfamiliar with the sport. Golf Story is often compared to Stardew Valley for its innovation in the simulation genre and aesthetic. Its unique concept makes it not only the best sports game exclusive to the Switch but one of the best games in its stunning library.

Next: The Most Underrated Games On The Nintendo Switch