Soapbox features enable our individual writers and contributors to voice their opinions on hot topics and random stuff they've been chewing over.
Today, Rory looks at all the doubters, then at all the 'miracle' Switch ports, then back at the doubters, then back again to the...
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but the Nintendo Switch is not an N64. It seems like a blatantly obvious statement on the surface, but with the way I’ve seen some of y’all talking about it on the internet recently, I feel like it needs to be said.
It seems like the release of the admittedly-fairly-hideous Pokémon Scarlet and Violet at the end of last year has totally poisoned the discourse when it comes to what the Switch is capable of.
Those aren't a handsome pair, it’s true, but cherry-picking ugly games that were likely rushed to a strict deadline, then holding them up as the pinnacle of a console’s capabilities is a dumb, bad-faith argument. It’s like saying the PS5 is weak because Balan Wonderworld exists. Yes, sorry for the reminder – it does still exist.
Sure, the Switch’s 2015 mobile SoC is showing its age as the 9th console generation thunders along, but in the right hands, it’s still capable of pumping out some impressive results, and there’s no reason why a Call of Duty title for Switch couldn’t look fantastic. This thing can run Crysis Remastered, for crying out loud!
Let’s take that example and run with it – the game that famously brought the highest-of-high-end PCs mercilessly to their knees, now runs perfectly well on the pocket-sized Switch, retaining its fully-destructible environments while introducing a completely overhauled, voxel-based, real-time Global Illumination lighting engine.
And how about Alien Isolation, which our friends at Digital Foundry concluded looks even better than the PlayStation 4 version? What about DOOM Eternal, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and Dying Light, which, despite their concessions, are all incredibly impressive and playable ports in their own right?
Look, we’re not for one minute suggesting that a potential Switch version would be the best-looking on the market, by any stretch – truth be told, I think Microsoft is probably looking to release on Nintendo’s next-generation machine at this point – but to suggest it’d be some sort of hideous, poorly-performing mess seems strange, and conveniently ignores plenty of evidence to the contrary.
Microsoft has already shown it’s willing to put in the effort to provide a fantastic experience for Nintendo players. When work started on the Switch port of Ori and the Will of the Wisps – a game that struggled on Xbox One X at launch, let’s not forget – developer Moon Studios was hitting around 20fps in an early build.
It initially looked like a 30fps target would be the ceiling, but with some hard work and smart optimisation, the team managed to get the final game running at a buttery smooth 60fps, something that just didn’t seem feasible at the start.