The Switch might not be as powerful as traditional video game consoles currently on the market, but that hasn't stopped developers from reaching for the stars. Plenty of talented developers and publishers aren't even phased by its limitations. In fact, a lot of games designed from the ground up for other systems have successfully made the transition across to Nintendo's beloved hybrid platform.
These games are what our lovely senior video producer Alex Olney is referring to as the "impossible" Nintendo Switch ports. For 15-minutes, you can hear him talk about what we at Nintendo Life think are the most impressive third-party Switch ports. We're purely talking about the technical performance of each game we mention and we haven't included any first-party games. A big shoutout to Digital Foundry as well for supplying us with the finer details about each of these games.
View the video above and tell us if you've played any of these impossible ports made possible on the Nintendo Switch in the comments below.
And even though they aren't as good looking, they still run decently enough for what is essentially a tablet. I mean MK11 does 60fps, and on the go!
Not a fan of the title at all. It makes it sound like it is a bad thing. It also makes it sound defeatist. The whole video sounded like "yeah the Switch is an inferior product, weaker and lower quality."
And yes, the Switch isn't as powerful as dedicated home gaming equipment chained to a TV or desk - but no other portable device in the same price range can play the same quality games as the Switch. Period.
And even much more expensive tablets and smart phones either can't run comparable games or simply don't have them. Even 1000 dollar iPhones or Android devices. Even if they could run comparable titles they don't have the physical controls and thus can't do it. There is nothing else on the market comparable to the Switch. No, Chinese piracy and emulation boxes running outdated Android systems don't count.
@JR150 Nintendo has understood something very well since the Wii: Graphics don't make good games. Power can offer the backbone for a fine open-world game like Monster Hunter: World or Final Fantasy XV, but we still have Starlink which is an open WORLDS (plural) game with plenty of persistent action going on in the background.
Bottom line, a good processor helps but it doesn't bring home the bacon. Period. And as disappointing as it is to see a game's luster stripped out to work on the Switch, we PC gamers have more than enough experience with doing exactly that by our own hands to get games working. It's much better to play a game than to look at pretty pictures of it or ponder what it's like to play, and having a Switch in-hand at the park, in a waiting room or in the backseat of a car with your favorite game has much more value than preserving all the pretty pixels.
The real problem with the Assassin's Creed port we read about is that they couldn't get it to run smoothly.
@ELRinley No, it's just Ubisoft doing a bad job porting AC: 3 to Switch. With a slight CPU overclock (hack) to around 1.2 GHz, the game runs full speed. I'd post a video from Modern Vintage Gamer, but you can find it on his channel . The fact a 200 MHz clock boost makes it run better says a lot about. Ubisoft is lazy.
@Heavyarms55 I get where you're coming from and it's a pretty valid point. But the idea here seems to be that they "shouldn't exist" because "that's impossible!" They're simply titles that are believed to push so hard that a lighter weight device shouldn't be able to run them.
That said, it almost seems absurd to have DOOM on this list for that exact reason. It's a powerful and MOSTLY gorgeous game, yes (here's looking at you, Hayden's weird limb blur), but it also seems frighteningly efficient and granular in its graphics implementation.
@ELRinley It's all about framing. If it were called something more like "The incredible Switch ports we wouldn't have guessed were possible." That would change the whole tone of the video to make it all seem... well more positive. Like a good thing.
The title just makes it all sound so negative. "The impossible Switch ports that shouldn't exist" really makes it sound like it is a bad thing that they do.
@Heavyarms55 I don't get that sense. It's more meant to convey incredulity at what can be pulled off on a budget gaming tablet. It's a positive thing.
Yeah, it's pretty crazy to see these games on Switch. Flashback to March 2017 and tell people games like Witcher 3, MK 11, Doom 2016 and Eternal etc would be headed to Switch, you would get laughed at, and maybe understandably so.
@Ralizah Naw, it would suggest that with a different title and framing. Like my suggestion in the other comment. But calling something impossible and saying it shouldn't exist is a distinctly negative sounding thing. I can't see it in any other light.
@ELRinley For AC I really think it's more to do with the skills of the people behind the port than the game or the Switch. I firmly believe a more competent and dedicated team could easily have made that game run way better.
@Heavyarms55 I can see where you're coming from, I just don't necessarily share the sentiment. On this site at least you're not gonna get any arguments that the Switch is an "inferior console." No, it's a gameplay POWERHOUSE and for actual gameplay experience runs circles around the competitors. Xbox and PS4 bring nothing but raw processing power and some camera hardware to the table for developers to really dig into and capitalize on for unique and intrinsically valuable gameplay experiences.
But also on this site, most everyone already knows the woes of the Switch's lackluster processing power in comparison to those consoles (its rightful peers, whereas tablets and phones have no business in the same stadium as the Switch) and the collective sighs of disappointment at reports of this game or that being denied Switch ports because of that. PREY comes to mind.
Think of it this way: "A challenge was presented. They said it was impossible. But it wasn't. It "shouldn't be real." But it is. The odds have been beaten. The myths have been busted. It CAN be done. It HAS been done. We've WON. It's HERE. And lo ye naysayers listen close for THIS is what we can accomplish!"
It isn't negative. It's cheeky and boastful. It's thumbing the nose at the impossibility. It's like watching a sports competitor rise up and stomp their handicap flat... and this is exactly the kind of phrasing you'd hear in that context.
@ELRinley I suppose I can see where you are coming from, but I don't share that sentiment. It just doesn't sound that way to me at all. Especially since this is one of their YouTube videos.
And frankly, if anything the existence of these games running well is proof that those other games you allude to are the result of poorly done ports, not a fault of the Switch. There are people out there who think the Switch can't run PS360 era games well and that's just a load of rubbish.
This video is gonna show up in gaming threads and searches and people are gonna see that title and I promise you it's gonna reinforce that misconception at least as often, if not more than it disputes it.
War frame is crazy!
I wouldn't count Rocket League as an impossible port, it looks terrible compared to PS4.
I think Fast RMX is still today the most visually impressive game on Switch, it's actually a port of a Wii U game. Beautiful visuals with buttery smooth frame rate. There's many games running at 60 fps on Switch but none felt like Fast RMX: it's like games from NES/SNES era, unwavering solid frame rate that never falters.
You saaaay DOOM is the complete package but... I distinctly remember more modes on other platforms...
I'd say Warframe is the weak link of the bunch though in terms of performance.
I love the game and have played it almost nonstop since it came out, but I can't ignore just how freakin' terrible the framerate becomes once you go to higher level missions with a group (it takes a lot of time to get to that point, that's why reviewers don't mention it.)
All the abilities and flashes and explosions going off all the time is just way too much for the Switch to handle and it drops to the low teens almost nonstop, making it all a very stuttery mess. It's also the most glitchy game on the Switch by far...
It's the one game that has me clamoring for a Switch Pro (or the ability to migrate my savefile to PC...), just so I can hunt Eidolons without getting a headache v.v
All the other ports are bloody great though and hats of to Panic Button and the others for pulling those off ^_^
Here's hoping Witcher 3 is added to this list soon.
Will be interesting to see The Witcher 3 on Switch. Now that's truly the impossible port to beat.
I think it’s great to see these games on a portable console. My only complaint is how older third party games remain 40+ dollars retail, while on other consoles it’s 10-20 or sometimes even less. That will probably change later in the Switch’s lifespan, but for now it hurts the Switch slightly.
I might be the only one here but I am impresed the most by Hellblade, thats for sure.
@westman98 That and also the Outer Worlds looks like an impossible port to me
Good article and a good sales pitch for the Switch. There are people out there who will be genuinely surprised to see a portable/tablet running these games. Nicely done.
“Flashback to March 2017 and tell people games like Witcher 3, MK 11, Doom 2016 and Eternal etc would be headed to Switch, you would get laughed at, and maybe understandably so.”
Absolutely right. I remember the shock when DOOM was announced and then when it turned out well. Still one of the biggest surprises in the life of the Switch. I wasn’t convinced Rocket League would run at 60FPS (which is essential to that game) when that was announced but they pulled it off.
@NintendoFan4Lyf Nah, I believe they put it in place before recent events. They’re now more tough on swearing as well.
Without any Switch Pro, that you love to mention every f(/&ing time. The Switch is a powerful machine.
@Heavyarms55 That's what mainstream media do best is misinform. Gaming included.
@Heavyarms55 yeah...your being a bit of a drama queen about the title 😂
Calm down! If anything the title at most could be seen as something said in “awe” or “shock”, but it’s nowhere near “negative” lol
The only people that would confuse that title are those that are getting offended because of them pointing out the lack of power on the switch, so you could say your reaction is negative?
Personally think it’s bang on, there are games on switch that you would think wouldn’t run but somehow they have pulled it off!
@Deathwalka Ah, always with the insults for a someone with a different opinion.
As we are very tech savvy on here we care about texture quality and frame rates,we will be very interested in Digital Foundry videos that highlight these areas of a game,but in reality we are in the minority as most gamers just do not care,even the Ps4/Xbox One markets sell very few of the ultra high end consoles when compared to their regular versions,there are a lot more console owners out there across the full marketplace that see video games as a small part of their overall entertainment experience,wheras we will spend a lot more time playing and discussing video games.
The triple AAA developers know their main markets are on the Ps4 and Xbox One as they have been for mulitiple console generations now,but the Switch is a tempting market as there are around 35 million consoles out there and that will only increase as the Switch light is released,and Nintendo's first party output ramps up.
Totally agree with you there,these types of articles seem pointless to me as we are all well aware of the Switch's limitations as well as it's advantages.
If you take the core out of the mix,the mass switch demographic will be buying these AAA ports because of the title and their respective performance issues will not even be an issue.
MK11 never seemed impossible thanks to some great 60fps fighting games I played on my vita. Killzone was pretty impressive too. Honestly I think it is just about the effort devs are willing to put in. If your developing a game for the vita with its userbase of 17 people you aren't going to put in the same effort as you would on the switch with 30 million and counting. Thank the free market for your "impossible ports"
Borderlands 3 please.
Can they just port a old call of duty since this system is not powerful enough to run the new version.
Nothing is impossible if given the task. The only thing is dedication and passion for making it happen, I too never believed that games like Doom and Street Fighter Alpha 2 would be possible on SNES but they did, same with Resident Evil 2 for N64 and Street Fighter Alpha 3 for GBA.
"There is nothing else on the market comparable to the Switch."
In the same price range, I'll agree to an extent. I purchased a GPD Win back then, which is a DS-sized gaming Windows PC (built-in controls, screen, HDMI out, etc...) that had decent enough specs to play Doom, Skyrim (before they were out on the Switch), and classic like Fallout 3, Mass Effect Trilogy, Burnout Paradise, LEGO games, Borderlands, and so many other on the go, with about the same battery life as the Switch. Given it made possible to play thousands of PC games on the go, AND with a price tag that was in the same "ballpark" as the Switch, I think this qualifies. Although I admit the "PC" nature of the thing meant that this system isn't as integrated and trouble-free as a console that "just work", but I used one for a while and still think it's a worthwhile alternative.
Now, the GPD Win 2 is out, and while it can't really compare as it is much more expensive than the Switch, it is powerful enough to run games like GTA V on the go. Of course, not as pretty as what you'd get on a PS4 or XB1, but on such a small screen (720p, like the Switch) it isn't THAT big of a deal.
Saying that no device at all can compare is not true. Both GPD Win devices can, although their PC nature doesn't make them as easy to use as a Switch. And the Win2 is much more expensive. BUT, they both allow gaming on the go, and on TV, in a "similar" fashion (no dock though, you need to hook up an HDMI cable).
BUT I still prefer my Switch these days for various reasons.
I'm just highlighting the fact that there ARE alternatives. They're just not mainstream enough to be known from most of the masses.
Madworld port with control support please
I've genuinely been debating getting DOOM on my Switch for so long. I have it on PS4, and I'll finish it one day on that, but I don't use my PS4 nearly as often as my Switch, and despite how DOOM runs on Switch, to me, it seems tailor made for that system. As Arlo said, It's the most Nintendo-like non-Nintendo made game on the Switch. (That's not precisely what he said, but it was along those lines). I also remember his great quote, "Graphics are great and all, but so is playing DOOM in bed."
@Realnoize The GDP devices are vastly more expensive and lack any proper games of their own. So my point is correct, there is nothing on the market to compare to the Switch. They're just a massively overpriced windows tablet hardwired to a mediocre controller and a mobile keyboard from 2007. GTA V runs on PS360, so it really isn't that impressive to see it running on GDP.
The Win2 is indeed way more expensive, I admit. But the Win1 is in the same ballpark though. I bought mine brand new for the price of a Switch (instead of buying a Switch back then). And I don't understand your comment "lack any proper games of their own".
I played hundreds of proper PC games on the thing. I played Skyrim on this before it was even out on the Switch. So games on Switch are "proper games" and the same games on PC aren't "proper games"? If you're talking about first-party games, there are none on PC because the "PC" platform isn't owned by anyone. So basically, your argument is that it's a PC.
And it was far from mediocre. I mean, I had one, I should know. I spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours playing PC games on this thing.
This device, for me, was something I did put in direct competition with the Switch, and bought over a Switch back then. And I never regretted that decision as it was a tons of fun. I kind of almost regret selling it, but oh well.
Saying this cannot be in direct competition with the Switch is being a bit intellectually dishonest, as I used it exactly in the same manner I'm using my Switch these days: mostly to play games on the go and occasionally on the big screen. Some games I play on Switch right now, I played them on this thing way before they were released on Switch.
I have a friend who still have both (GPD Win and Switch) and still much prefer playing on his GPD Win.
I smell a bit of Consoles vs. PC in your post. Personally, I play on all consoles + PC (have all of them) so I humbly consider myself a bit beyond all the fanboyism... And while nowadays I prefer my Switch and play on it all the time, I still say it's inaccurate to say nothing compares...
Unless you need something that does everything 100% the same way as the Switch, then nothing will ever compare to it... And thinking like this would also mean that no console could be compared to any other ever, as they all have something that distinguishes them from others....
Maybe for you, those devices aren't in competition. But I know many people who beg to differ. GPD devices usually sell very well and are often produced in multiple batches, and get multiple revisions. Surely, there are some people out there who think these devices are worth it for gaming... on the go or at home... like a Switch.
@johnvboy Fair! The main thing I was getting at was that contrary to what the AAA industry seems to think, console horsepower doesn't sell games. Good textures are always a must because that's where the lion's share of your aesthetic detail comes from. But as NICE as it is to see amazing weather effects, specularity, physics-based rendering, etc. and how AMAZING raytracing looks... ...who actually missed those things when playing Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey?
Fine graphics help you to realize your creation's aesthetic potential. Physics-based rendering in both video AND audio can be used to create new experiences, such as using physics-based audio propagation (only seen a couple of games even attempt this, sadly) to give players a whole new range of sensory tracking that can allow new ways to navigate worlds and track targets.
But as amazing as avant-garde developments are, you can still always take pixel graphics and hand-drawn sprites and spin them into an amazing experience.
Very true,which is why Nintendo's art style in it's games is so special.
Think Grid Autosport also deserves a nod , that’s a fine port , I think I may even prefer it to the Xbox 360 original !
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