If you cast your mind back to the days of the Wii, one of the things Nintendo fans had to endure as a consequence of the power gap between the console and the PS3 and Xbox 360 was the existence of Nintendo-exclusive "reimaginings" of popular cross-platform titles. Some of these were surprisingly good, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex, Dead Space: Extraction and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, while others were less appealing, such as Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop and Far Cry: Vengeance.
It was easy to see the commercial reasoning behind this; with the Wii's massive install base, publishers wanted to grab a share of the action with their most famous IP, but the power gap between the Wii and its rivals meant that straight ports were unfeasible. Instead, work would often be contracted out to external partners and the resultant game would carry the brand, but differ to the 'original' vision seen on the PS3 and Xbox 360.
We've happily been spared a similar situation with Switch due to the fact that it supports many popular game engines and is perhaps closer in power than many people suspect to its current-gen rivals; therefore, titles like Doom, Dark Souls: Remastered and the upcoming Witcher 3: Wild Hunt are pretty close in terms of looks, feel and content to their Sony and Microsoft equivalents.
However, with the impending launch of the PS5 and Project Scarlett in 2020, that situation is likely to change and we could see a return to the days when Nintendo fans get their own bespoke versions of popular multiformat releases due to the large gap in performance between systems. Virtuos – the studio behind the Switch ports of Starlink and Dark Souls: Remastered – has revealed that it is already in discussion with publishers about bringing famous IP to Switch in the form of custom versions.
Speaking exclusively to Nintendo Life, Virtuos VP of Games Division Elijah Freeman said:
Many of our partners are already approaching us to help them create bespoke Switch titles for some of the most beloved IPs in our industry.
Before we get too worried about the dark days of the Wii returning, it's worth noting that these bespoke games could well turn out to be exclusive system-sellers and 'technical constraints' aren't the only reason they would happen, as Freeman adds:
I believe that we could and will see unique versions of franchises developed specifically to harness elements of the Switch that make it so special. I would credit this to the unique portability of the console and the quality of gameplay experiences that it offers players, not a result of technical constraints.
Could we see companies like Capcom and Konami hiring talented firms like Virtuos, Panic Button and Saber Interactive to leverage their knowledge of the hardware to create Switch-exclusive instalments of key franchises? It's an interesting thought. Let us know your opinion with a comment.