E3 Hands-on – Hyper Sports R
When I first heard about the fact Konami was going to do a surprise announcement at E3 2018, I started to think of which franchise the company was going to revive. Was it going to be a new Contra? A new Castlevania? Oh, maybe a new Gradius! I was wrong, wrong, and wrong. I thought about tons of different Konami franchises, but one I didn’t even consider was Track & Field. Remember the button-mashing classic from the NES era? Well, that’s the franchise that’s going to be revived on the Switch, now that Hyper Sports R has been announced. At first I was a bit disappointed due to my own expectations, but after playing it at a private appointment at E3 2018, I can see the reason why Konami would want to release a game like this and I can actually see the potential in this little title.
Just like previous Track & Field installments, Hyper Sports R can easily be summarized as a collection of sports-based minigames. Konami has promised more than just a mere collection of loosely connected games though. The company has stated Hyper Sports R will actually feature a career mode with the objective of unlocking and recruiting various characters, each one with a sport he or she excels in. The game will feature absolutely no microtransactions.
I didn’t have the opportunity of playing a lot of minigames at Konami’s private showing of Hyper Sports R. Three minigames were available: javelin, 100 meter dash, and long jump. The volleyball minigame was only available in trailer form. Both long jump and javelin were limited to button-based gameplay only, while the 100m dash was available in both button and motion-based forms. You can clearly see the game is still in its early stages of development, as Konami has promised all of the minigames will feature both styles of gameplay. You can also play all games with a single joycon.
The button-based gameplay was the same you would expect from previous Track & Field games: it’s all about the mindless button mashing. You need to press buttons as quickly as possible until you either win the game or lose a finger or two. Some may say this is a dated concept, others will find some sort of sadistic but nostalgic value in this old-school type of reflex contest. Since the motion-based gameplay was only available on one minigame, there is little I can say about it, but all I can say is that the motion controls work pretty well. The developer told me I should wave my arms naturally, as if I was actually running (instead of just waving my arms around like a lunatic). I can’t say all of the minigames will feature motion controls as well-developed as this one, but if Konami keeps on implementing gameplay options like this, it won’t be a bad game.
After playing Hyper Sports R for a while, and after actually competing with a fellow journalist on a 100m dash battle for the ages, I’ve finally understood this game’s appeal: Hyper Sports R has the potential to become the Switch’s own Wii Sports. Nintendo tried to recreate the casual minigame craze with 1-2 Switch, but failed miserably by charging an insane pricetag for a bland collection of bland minigames. Hyper Sports R can fill that void as long as Konami manages to provide enough content and fun gameplay at a decent pricetag. Make it a 40 buck game and you might have potential hit in the oven.
Hyper Sports R still looks a bit rough, and I wasn’t able to play as many minigames as I wanted to, but I can totally see the potential in this game. If developed and marketed properly, this can easily become the Switch’s iteration of Wii Sports, a little casual game that can appeal towards casuals and regular gamers alike.