Soapbox features enable our individual writers to voice their own opinions on hot topics, opinions that may not necessarily be the voice of the site. In today's article, editor Dom delves into the vast ocean of ports on Nintendo Switch and argues that bringing older games to the platform can relight the fire for games that stumbled the first time around...
I know what you’re thinking. I can hear your knee-jerk reaction as it bangs off the underside of your desk from here. “Ports? A good thing? Have you gone mad, man?” And I get the reaction, I really do. Back in a past life where I worked on an official mag for a certain other platform where a certain other console with the number ‘4’ in its name was only a few months old, ports were a real issue. For its first 12 months or so, that platform was awash with ports from the previous generation. The ‘HD collection’ craze from the PS3/360 era had migrated to new hardware, and it got old real fast.
On Nintendo Switch, we’re experiencing something relatively similar - as we pointed out late last year. Here we are, over 11 months into the console’s life cycle, and we’re still up to our guts in ported titles. There are Neo Geo ports as far as they eye can see. There are indie ports at every turn. And even older triple-A that were once the flavour of the month have been retooled for the world of game cards, Joy-Cons and HD Rumble. For some it’s a problem, and given that the number of non-exclusive ports is rapidly outweighing original software there may be some who are less than pleased with this situation - but for me, especially in the case of the latter, it’s a chance for a game to enjoy a new lease of life.
And yes, I can detect you rolling your eyes from here, but this is a soapbox, so quit your eyeball acrobatics.
We've already had the likes of L.A. Noire, RiME and DOOM, but the ports keep on coming - and will do for some time, if Panic Button is to be believed. Take the upcoming co-op shooter Payday 2 as a prime example of what I’m talking about. Back in 2013 and 2015 - that’s when the game originally launched and when it was re-released as the Crimewave Edition on PS4, Xbox One and PC - Payday 2 wasn’t the biggest of hits and ultimately calcified into a cult smash with a small yet loyal fanbase of players. But on Switch, with its ever-growing audience and still modest set of Triple-A and Double-A games, Overkill’s co-op shooter has another chance to enjoy renewed success on a platform that isn’t swamped with Call Of Duty entries and other myriad FPS franchises.
Sure, being in handheld form is a unique selling point all in itself, but so is every other game on Switch by the sheer fact of being on the platform. The difference here is certain games can benefit from the lack of competition. If you’re a shmup or a pixel art platformer, you might get lost in the mix, but a shooter? There’s plenty of room for an experience such as Payday 2 to flex its muscles and benefit from the co-op-friendly ethos Switch has exuded so well thus far.
It’s a foundation that’s also helping Bayonetta 2 secure the kind of exposure and mainstream acceptance that it was only partially afforded on Wii U. Sure, the early sales of PlatinumGames’ seminal masterpiece didn’t quite meet the opening sales of the original version, but Wii U’s audience remained tiny throughout its lifespan while Switch continues to grow and expand with each passing month. With so many positive reviews, and a strong response on social media, that second chance at redemption seems a real possibility for Bayo and co’s sophomore outing.
Being ported to Switch helped give the aforementioned DOOM - a brilliant yet perhaps forgotten shooter on other platforms - a new sense of relevancy, even despite the technical sacrifices that were made to make it happen. In fact, that Panic Button managed to make it run so well (including recent changes to introduce motion controls) means that those sacrifices were actually a selling point. No other platform ultimately could support a technically inferior version of a year-old game and still manage to elevate that game's media profile and extend the remit of its audience.
Not every port on Nintendo Switch is justified - and some are just an easy and convenient way to improve a game’s potential success - but there’s a real argument for Nintendo Switch providing a last chance saloon for games that never quite achieved their true potential the first time around. It doesn’t work for every game in this scenario, but even if a game only manages to partially make good on its potential, that’s surely a worthwhile justification for a second life on Switch? Perhaps you feel differently, and you're getting sick of the stream of ports when exclusive titles appear to be drying up somewhat. As ever, you can make your own thoughts known below.
What do you think about the number of ports coming to Switch? (302 votes)
I love it, I want to play these games again in portable form
I'm all for it as I missed a lot of these games the first time around
I'm not really too bothered either way, as long as the console gets software
I'm getting a bit sick of all these ports, the Switch needs more exclusive titles in 2018
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