Nintendo Switch Sports went through several character design iterations before it landed on the Mii-like humans that players are accustomed to.
As reported by Eurogamer, Nintendo Switch Sports producer Takayuki Shimamura and art director Junji Morii revealed the process the game went through to get to its release state in an Ask the Developer interview hosted by Nintendo. Initially, the development team was excited by the idea of players controlling large, circular robots dressed up in various outfits to play the game’s sports.
Concept art obtained by Eurogamer shows robots that look almost like Overwatch‘s Wrecking Ball dressed up as a hamburger, a bear, a skull, and more. Though it looked good on paper, the idea was scrapped when the team saw it in motion. “The player controls the characters in the robot to operate the robot. Them, the robot throws the ball. There are too many steps in between,” Switch Sports director Yoshikazu Yamashita said in the interview.
After that, the team designed a set of collegiate characters who played a variety of sports. Although these characters were concepted and illustrated, the team ultimately decided to pursue a redesign of Wii Sports’ Miis instead. The playable characters in the final game aren’t exactly the same as Miis—for one thing, they have arms, which required a surprising amount of extra work to implement. While Miis only required 30 different animations for the five sports featured in Wii Sports, Switch Sports‘ characters required over 650 animations to look lifelike.
While the game’s characters are designed to be somewhat reminiscent of Miis, the dev team still wanted Switch Sports to maintain its own identity away from the monolith that is Wii Sports. “With the Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort games, we came up with as many ideas as we could think of…and most of them were achieved and implemented in the titles, so we felt that we had done all we could,” Yamashita said in the interview. “Going back to the basics, we thought this game should be something our customers can feel an immediate response to and feel it is something interesting, with just a single swing.”