The Nintendo Switch has made leaps and bounds in the two years since its release. Easily making gaming history, the Switch put Nintendo back on the map after the unfortunate failure of the Wii U. With the release of their smash-hit portable console came a new era of third-party support, something generally unheard of for Nintendo. This support of third-party IPs (intellectual properties) brings with it a plethora of ports of popular games, giving the system serious repute as a competitor to Sony‘s and Microsoft’s consoles. Among these ports, a number stand out as the best fit for the portable and multiplayer functionalities of the Switch.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
It makes sense to start with the port which is arguably responsible for bringing serious attention to the Switch. Announced alongside the reveal of the system, Skyrim for the Switch presented a never-seen-before experience, giving users the ability to play the game from absolutely anywhere – even on a plane!
While Bethesda has become somewhat of a meme for porting Skyrim to every possible device – even Amazon’s Alexa – this actually means something very important for the Switch. The fact that Skyrim is available on a Nintendo system is symbolic of the idea that even from release, the Switch is a worthy competitor to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. What’s more, Skyrim was able to demonstrate right from the beginning the sheer power and potential of Nintendo’s new hybrid console.
As for the port itself, Skyrim performs just as it would on any console, albeit with some graphical simplifications. This port was perhaps the perfect title to announce with the Switch, emphasizing the idea of a portable home console experience.
Indie developer Chucklefish‘s popular farming RPG Stardew Valley feels right at home on the Switch. Stardew Valley is inspired by the original Harvest Moon titles which first appeared on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. As such, it’s no wonder that this indie classic is a perfect fit for this Nintendo console.
While Stardew Valley has other console ports, it takes on an entirely new character on the Switch. The ability to bring the console experience of this classic indie title wherever you want has understandably huge appeal. The combination of relaxed gameplay and portability hearkens back to those warm, nostalgic memories of playing Gameboy or DS underneath your bed covers on a school night. Stardew Valley on the Switch is a match made in heaven, a fact which is evident from its prominent place on the top of eShop charts alongside such Nintendo powerhouses as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The recent port of CD Projekt’s hugely popular, open-world RPG The Witcher 3 came as a massive surprise to everybody. Building on the impact Skyrim had, this port reinforces the sheer capabilities of the Switch. Powerhouse games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild gave a good representation of the system’s capabilities. Then The Witcher 3 came along and blew all doubts surrounding the console’s potential out of the water. With a map size twice as large as that of Breath of the Wild and an insane amount of content – including all additional DLC available to the original PS4 and Xbox One versions – onlookers and die-hard Nintendo fans alike were all amazed by the fact that the game could be condensed into a tiny cartridge for use on a hybrid portable console.
Most critics agree that The Witcher 3 feels surprisingly natural on the Switch, with controls carrying over almost seamlessly. As with Skyrim, some visual sacrifices had to be made for the port to be possible on the system. That said, apart from some slightly muddy textures here and there, the game looks great despite the console’s graphical limitations. The award-winning gameplay is not affected in the slightest.
When the Switch was first announced, Nintendo made a great effort to emphasize the multiplayer functionality of the system. The Switch is designed with both competition and cooperation in mind, from portable local multiplayer between devices to the Joy-Cons literally doubling as two separate controllers. This is also where Rocket League comes in. As with Skyrim and Stardew Valley, Psyonix’s popular vehicular soccer game is available on every major platform. A Switch port was inevitable.
Not only does this port further cement the Switch’s place among its competitors, but its cross-platform multiplayer allows for an experience seldom seen in many multiplayer games. Users can play matches against those playing on any other console, due to the game’s own online infrastructure.
As with most Switch ports, there is a certain level of graphical limitation. Otherwise, the port handles just as well as any console version of the game, with the added freedom of portability.
Finally, we can’t discuss multiplayer functionality without bringing up the all-time most popular multiplayer experience that is Minecraft. Minecraft on the Switch is, admittedly, nothing special — the game having been ported to every possible platform already. However, this port of Mojang’s hit sandbox game differs from most others, as it can be played absolutely anywhere.
Minecraft may actually be the best example for the Switch’s basic functionalities. It makes use of the system’s portability to allow for local multiplayer between consoles or even on a single system without the need for an internet connection. This port provides a much more practical and comfortable portable experience than other portable ports, such as Minecraft: Pocket Edition. The fact that the Switch is a hybrid portable/home console creates a much more accessible and enjoyable experience when compared with the clunky touch screen controls of Pocket Edition. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to suggest that this is the quintessential Minecraft console experience.
Everything above covers the best ports of third-party titles. There’s rarely a need for companies to port first-party exclusives to their own consoles. For Nintendo, however, the story is slightly different. With the release of the Switch came the inevitable death of the Wii U – a console which ultimately failed, despite its huge potential. While the system saw little success in its lifetime, it received some fantastic installments of classic Nintendo franchises. Thankfully, the company saw the potential for these games to meet a much larger audience on their new console. With that, we now have a whole catalogue of Switch ports of Nintendo’s own fantastic IPs, some of which have become known as definitive titles for any player’s collection:
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
- Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition
- Pokkén Tournament DX
- Bayonetta 2
- Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
- Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Are there any other Switch ports that deserve to be on this list? Let us know with a comment! Thanks for reading, and as always, stay tuned to Culture of Gaming for more gaming news!