- Developer: BreakFirst S.A.R.L
- Publisher: Plug in Digital
- Release Date: 27/8/2021 (Physical), 1/9/2021 (Digital)
- Price: £22.49 / $24.99
- Code provided by Plug In Digital
Introduction to the Instant Sports Paradise Review
In this family-friendly mini-game-focused title, you take on the role of Lucas, Sara, Thomas, Sofia, Bryan, Ines, Pax, or Maya and spend your time playing games in the titular paradise. These activities include various mini-games, enjoying the island’s characters, collecting bugs, fishing, and assorted other activities. Instant Sports Paradise welcomes up to 4 players in multiplayer bouts and can easily be played with one Joy-Con per player. All of this is set on a sun-soaked island covered in flowers and palm trees, that offers shopping, buying drinks, and playing football. That’s a lot to ask for a smaller title, so how does Instants Sports Paradise handle it all?
Getting Away From It All
The main goal of the game is to have fun more than anything else. Sure, the mini-games all have a goal, and earning more coins to buy more clothes or better items can be seen as a goal as well, but Instant Sports is more about the fun you have with other players. This is really not a title that plays well solo. Yes, it can b played solo, but it’s a rather dull affair. The real fun that is to be had here comes through when playing with a pal or three. The Mini-games on offer are varied and, as to be expected, the gameplay and enjoyment of them are just as varied.
There are a few dozen games available from the map, with additional activities that can be found throughout the island. Games range from the obvious like Bowling and Archery to the more unusual like Shell Hunt and Wok (a simple cooking game). There are parts of the island locked behind challenger records where you’ll need to best various NPCs at their given activity to open. The other activities on the island include catching bugs, fishing, treasure hunting, etc. These activities are tied to the tools you have on hand and you start with only a bug-catching net. You’ll have to earn more gold to get the other tools (as soon as you hunt down the shops that sell them) which in turn, opens up that activity. There’s not a lot of nuances here, you hit the button and catch the bug. But that’s reflected in the attitude of the entire title. All of the mini-games have a similar feel.
Starting out, the characters are what they are. You do get the chance to change their names, which is better than nothing, but that’s it. Once you start seeing coins come in, you can buy other hair, beards, glasses, shirts, shoes, and bottom wear, some of which can drastically change your look. Strangely absent is the ability to change hair/beard colors, so you have to play Mix-n-match to get something that works without looking like a circus clown. Unless you were actually going for circus clown in which case no judgement here! You earn coins through playing the mini-games, however, the side activities also award coins. If you have the patience for it, you could simply catch bugs for a while and have enough to go shopping. The payouts feel small, but they add up over time. There were very few times after I got a good start where I would run into something I couldn’t afford. It’s not difficult to earn coins, just time-consuming.
Basking in The Sun
I don’t want to go into each and every mini-game, but suffice it to say there is a real mixed bag. I very much enjoy Wok, which is a cooking/timing mini-game. However, the two people playing with me (both adults, both gamers) seemed to have a harder time getting the hang of it. Whereas with Bowling, it felt like the arrows were not lined up to where the ball would actually go and made playing for all three of us a bit tricky. I don’t understand the choices that went into making a game like Air Hockey into a side-by-side, guard your base style game. They do this with a couple of games and change them from what’s expected. Playing the hang gliding mini-game was when things clicked for me as to why I was getting frustrated. With its No-Fail mini-games and bug-catching activities, this is a title aimed firmly at families with younger kids who want to have fun gaming together. When a younger kid is flying all over the level, he’s still going to have fun because he’s playing with his parent or older sibling. The video game becomes more of an instrument than the focus, and that’s where this game has found its niche.
The Motion of The Ocean
The mini-games do offer various motion controls set-ups. You can choose to play hand-held (one player), a single joy-con, or with a Pro controller. Considering how many games like this we’ve seen on other Nintendo systems that supported movement-based controls, I’m surprised more notes were not taken on how they did things. Not having dual Joy-Con support for Archery seems like a travesty. As it is, Archery is fun, but it could have been something astounding. And I do hate to bag on the Bowling, but the motion controls for it seem simple enough in theory, but in actuality almost never worked as it was supposed to. I actually found flicking my wrist gave better results than moving my whole arm and the ball release really felt like it whatever it decided to and not when I actually let go of the trigger. With Wii Bowling out there, they had a very high bar to meet and didn’t quite make it. They refer to using only buttons and sticks as the “Pro” mode and motion controls are just called Motion Controls, but I think I’d rename them to “Playable” and “Flailing Wildly”.
Send a Postcard
As well as the few technical hiccups, I have to admit the graphics are a bit stale. The island and its various activities are rendered well enough, but there was clipping on a few pieces of clothing. There’s a very odd blank screen that comes up at the end of any game, I’m assuming there is supposed to be some message there but it’s never displayed. The next screen is the results screen, so that’s not it. For the life of me, I don’t know what this random blank slate was supposed to be telling me and this happened on every game. Though I suppose the screen could have been hte game tallying results, but then why wasn’t that happening all along?
The music sounds very much like what you’d expect on a paradise holiday on a tropical island and wasn’t anything ear-splitting. We did have a section while bowling (what is it with that game?) where the music stopped completely. We could still hear the other sounds, but music suspended until we loaded back to the main island. And since I said loading, these loading screens are painful. I couldn’t find any reason the game should take that long, especially going into the mini-games. Mind you, none of this is game-breaking, but for a title that’s fifth in its franchise, I sort of expected a little more polish. Then again, with the target audience squarely aimed at the Paw Patrol age range, they aren’t likely to notice any of these flaws.
Time To Go Home
I didn’t outright hate my time spent on this review of Instant Sports Paradise. There were some mildly enjoyable mini-games in the mix and even something as simple as an open-world game of football can be fun if you’re playing with the right people. If you have younger players who might get frustrated at something like WarioWare or Mario Party, this is a title for them. They may not win every round, but many of the games are very generous and allow for all skill levels. It’s a perfect game for younger players to show off and play with the grandparents at a Holiday gathering. And this time of year, isn’t that what’s needed most?
- Serviceable mini-games
- A nice but small collection of customization options
- Motion controls work, mostly
- Graphics feel uninspired
- Motion controls don’t work sometimes
- Games may frustrate more seasoned players