Harmonix is back. The acclaimed developer behind such titles as Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Dance Central, and Fantasia: Music Evolved, have given us their next musical offering with Super Beat Sports. Exclusive to Nintendo Switch, Super Beat Sports is a collection of minigames set around following the rhythm of catchy alien songs.
That’s right. Aliens have come to invade the earth and they want to share their passion for music with us after watching earthling sports broadcasts. There are five different sports themed challenges, and each with a unique musical draw.
First up is Whacky Bat, in which players can move across several lanes to swing at baseballs coughed up by those rascal aliens, while they sing and grunt to their own melody. The premise is simple since the aliens telegraph their throws and you simply have to answer back with your swings. Towards the end of each song comes a robot with elastic arms. This is the player’s chance to score big with some home runs. The challenge comes from figuring out what kind of ball the robot is going to throw as he visibly winds up. That window of opportunity is small but he’ll always signal when he’s going to throw a slow ball, a fast ball, and a curve ball. Through trial and error, I was able to pick up on the pattern and nailing those swings felt rewarding. Whacky Bat easily has the most longevity of all the minigames, with 27 songs, and the learning curve is gracious.
Net Ball is mostly similar to a game of volleyball. It’s a two-on-two match in which the player is paired with a CPU partner. Here a song plays out like in Whacky Bat, but you’re awaiting your turn to “play” the note in the next sequence. Sometimes it’s a few notes here and there, and sometimes it’s a string of notes. My one misgiving with Net Ball is the camera’s tendency to pan from left to right constantly. It made tracking the ball difficult as I wasn’t always sure if it was being served to me or my partner until the last possible moment.
Gobble Golf is most similar to a memory game. There are a series of little floating islands with aliens on them. Before you can swing at golf balls for them to munch on, there’s a sequence of music that plays; telling you what order to follow. There’s an element of skill required for the prior two minigames, but Gobble Golf requires the least because you’re always informed what’s going to happen well in advance. While still entertaining, the pacing slows down a bit.
Buddy Ball is easily the best minigame to play with the family or a group of friends. Up to four players take turns hitting a ball at one of three aliens. Missing a ball will remove one of three hearts. Lose them all and that player is out. Which alien one player hits can influence what happens to the next player in the rotation. For example, power-ups can appear on the field that can change the rotation of the players, or cause a bomb to appear that can take a heart if accidentally hit. The last player with any remaining hearts is the winner. Reflexes are key in this hysterical minigame.
Finally, there’s Rhythm Racket, which has a pinball feel to it. The aliens have placed themselves in the middle of the field to spit out a fast-moving ball. The player has to prevent the ball from entering their net. The added challenge comes from how fast and random the ball can move as it bounces off of barriers, walls, and bumpers. The player can change the speed of the ball as it nears them by simply bunting it, swinging at it, or serving the ball back into the field of play. When more people play, there’s an added bonus to the field changing its layout every time a player is eliminated, thereby keeping things fresh and unexpected. While easily the most challenging of the minigames, it relies less on keeping in beat with the music.
There’s many ways to play Super Beat Sports on Switch, including the Joy-Con and Pro Controller. I played with the Joy-Con the entire time and I was very pleased to see how responsive the motion controls handled. Every swing had pinpoint accuracy and every miss I understood was my fault for not reacting in time. I couldn’t pick up on the HD Rumble feature, but I was standing and tapping my foot to the beat every time. The game also performs well with a Pro Controller and in both handheld and docked mode.
There’s plenty of replay value to be had with Super Beat Sports. Each minigame contains a Pro Mode, or hard difficulty, and can be unlocked very early on. You can also customize your avatar with a ton of different clothing items and equipment. Have you ever wanted to smack baseballs with an electric guitar or a lawn gnome? I didn’t know I did until I played Super Beat Sports. Sure, there’s golf clubs and tennis rackets, but the more wacky items feel so appropriate.
Super Beat Sports may not have a licensed soundtrack, like other games from Harmonix, but its quirky and catchy original beats sung by the adorable aliens really is rhythmic. A preview of each song can be heard before selecting a stage to help you keep track of your favorites. Super Beat Sports also displays vibrant colors that’s just right for its cast of cartoon-like characters.
For $15, you’re sure to get your money’s worth with Super Beat Sports, and then some. It’s a game that’s just as fun playing solo as it is playing with friends. Harmonix yet again shows how to carry a tune, and also knows how to hit it out of the park in this musical, sporty slugger.
Mammoth Gamers was provided with a review copy of the game by the publisher.