Sniper Elite 3 probably isn’t the best game out there. The working parts of it are those that got the most effort and attention: the numerous opportunities for players to shoot Nazis from original vantage points and look at the resulting slow-mo carnage. But that single focus just makes the rest of the game seem much more boring. It’s not something that can keep the players interested for very long.
Though, as Sniper Elite 3 is on the Nintendo Switch, I played for much longer than I expected, taking potshots on the go or in between weekend chores. The open-world set in North Africa might seem like a rip off of Metal Gear Solid V, but it still looks fine and runs rather smooth even on the small screen.
And because more publishers now jump on the Switch port trend with modified versions of technically demanding AAA games, we concluded: simply because a game can look slightly worse on Nintendo Switch doesn’t make it an actually worse version.
The gamers’ idea that you have to play The Witcher III: Wild Hunt on Switch only if you don’t have any other options. It neglects that this version may well be the best fit for some people. Clearly, everyone is free to choose whatever they like, but now it’s necessary to praise Nintendo not only for its games but because it doesn’t stop doing things that don’t follow the stiff priorities about the One True Way To Play.
The video game culture appreciates graphics and raw quantitative technical specs above all else, which is why it’s likely to ignore some other benefits, which you might get from giving up those specs. It’s the perfect example of exchanging the power of a gaming PC for the convenience of a console. The underpowered but portable Switch makes this even more intense. Would you swap the most premium, but the time-consuming experience for something more simple but fitting into your busy life?
People have different wants and needs, and their ideas about what they’re ready to trade off vary as well. Personally, I don’t mind ambitious ports of Burnout Paradise, Doom, etc. on Switch. But poor, pre-patch performance in, for example, Bloodstained on Switch are too much to put up with.
Another example is A Hat in Time (which was published by Humble and owned by the company that owns PCMag). This 3D mascot platformer has always seemed to be the ideal fit for the system which has Mario on it. Since the game operated on Unreal Engine 3, which is less flexible compared to Unreal Engine 4, the developers at Gears for Breakfast originally thought that a Switch port was “impossible.” The same problem occurred for the Switch port of Rocket League in the beginning.
And then we found out that wasn’t true. A Hat in Time is on Switch now and it performs just great. Does it look just as nice? Not really. There are some hitches, too. Yet, if we compare it to, say, Yooka-Laylee, the range and creativity together with the hat-based platforming instruments for playing in them are just enjoyable. On Switch, you can appreciate these big worlds in small pieces because of the formula Super Mario 64 laid down about 25 years ago.
Power vs Flexibility
Some people might care about the price of physical cartridges holding these ports at greater prices than on other platforms—the Switch tax. But based on the Switch’s progress, the ability of frictionless fast portable play is often a big benefit.
An actual distinction in the quality of graphics doesn’t mean an actual difference in quality in general if those shortcomings allow for a more enjoyable version.
This is the reason why I like playing The Witcher III: Wild Hunt on the handheld. I’d heard really high praise for the game for a very long time, and my hopes were pretty steep. In the beginning, I couldn’t help but hearing Geralt as Solid Snake and seeing the gameplay systems as Assassin’s Creed RPGs rip off. At the same time, I admired the excellent character writing, as well as deep action role-playing mechanics. There was also fleshed-out Gwent card game side mode and rich open fiction worlds that players can explore for hours.
All in all, the developers and contractors that attempt the impossible should know that their work is valuable. They don’t just make a poorer product to capitalize on a trend. For lots of players shrinking down a game can bring new benefits.