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Konami’s ‘Hyper Sports R’ Is a Bizarre Throwback to Outdated Gameplay

Konami’s not done dabbling with dubious Switch games.

In an unexpected move, the Japanese game publisher announced an offbeat sports title for Nintendo’s hybrid system Tuesday: “Hyper Sports R.”

“Hyper Sports” was an old arcade game first published by Konami in 1984. The Japanese publisher is bringing back the brand as a compilation game where up to four players can face off against each other in a number of sporting events.

The name isn’t the only thing that Konami is resurrecting. The gameplay style of the new Switch game basically mirrors the old button-mashing techniques. The old arcade game cabinets had two movement buttons and an action button. Players rapidly hit the movement buttons before an action prompt, and voila — sports. This style of play has been replicated for the Switch, and it didn’t age too well.

In my E3 demo, Konami showed off three events in playable form and beach volleyball as a computer simulation. I played the 100m dash, the javelin throw, and the long jump.

All of them were played the exact same way. On one Joy-Con, you alternated the left and right buttons on the D pad to get running. For the javelin throw and the long jump, after running, it prompts you to hit the up button once and then you have to reflexively hit it again in sync with a moving a target.

It’s exactly what it sounds like.

I remember playing many games of this kind in my childhood, including Nintendo’s “Track and Field” with the mat and everything. It seems like games should have evolved out of such simple, and ultimately unsatisfying, modes of play. There’s nothing really enjoyable about madly bashing at buttons, unless it’s to tire your kids out. I’ll accept it every once in a while during a “Mario Party” mini game or something, but to base an entire game around those mechanics seems like something from 1985.

Again, beach volleyball was only a computer simulation and the controls for that were not explained.

And it wouldn’t be a game for a Nintendo console aiming for a more casual audience if it didn’t include motion controllers. For my demo, motion controllers could be used in the 100m dash. Instead of rapidly tapping two buttons, the two Joy-Cons are gripped in either hand and you simulate running with your arms. Simply shaking the Joy-Cons won’t do the trick, you really need to give it your all.

I really enjoyed the cartoon-y style that Konami has adopted for “Hyper Sports R.” Characters are colorful and fun, adding a lot of friendliness to the game. Performance, on the other hand, left plenty to be desired. Stuttery animations and sluggishly timed action prompts were reminiscent of a budget game. Since Konami PR said that a price has yet to be set, it very well could be a budget game.

So far, Konami has announced seven track and field events (100m, long jump, javelin throw, 100m hurdles, hammer throw, 400m, and high jump), beach volleyball, and swimming as events in the game. During the demo, Konami PR promised that more events will be announced in the run up to “Hyper Sports R’s” as-yet-unannounced release date. It will also include online support, to be detailed at a later date.

Additionally, “Hyper Sports R” also includes an overly complicated team system that includes player unlocks, coaching mechanics, sponsorships, and quest lines. Teammates will earn in-game currency to unlock content and to complete character milestones. And it’s all based around these extremely simplistic events.

The last new game Konami released on the Switch was launch title  “Super Bomberman R,” which didn’t receive the best reviews. It’s clear that the Konami is willing to invest in Nintendo’s latest runaway success but only on its half-hearted terms.

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