Everything gets a Switch Port. When Nintendo’s console first came out, fans quickly made light of the fact that every game could get a Switch Port, sooner or later, due to the console’s versatile control method and mobility. Nintendo had long ignored third party games, with both the Gamecube and Wii systems having a distinct lack of support from developers either unable or unwilling to work with Nintendo.
However, while at first, the Switch ported games like Skyrim, it soon became apparent that everything was being converted for the console. Overwatch? Stardew Valley? Undertale? Even more extreme games like Doom and Dark Souls have made their way to the Nintendo friendly console, which begs the question: is the company just porting everything to their console to see what sticks?
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It Started as a Joke
When the Switch was first announced, the launch trailer showcased all sorts of gameplay footage for the upcoming console, including clips of it running a then-unannounced port of Skyrim, one of the most widely beloved games of all time.
Skyrim has been ported to almost every console one can think of. It was even re-released long after its initial launch. However, it had never until now been launched on a Nintendo console. The Japanese goliath has an odd history with ports. In the pre-N64 days, Nintendo consoles often had many ports on their consoles — often with changes made. A very noteworthy example of this is the Mortal Kombat port, which censored the blood effects of the Sega Genesis and Arcade versions in order to be more family-friendly. Since the N64, however, ports became more scarce, with critics often noting the lack of third party support for the Gamecube console.
Things got even worse when the Wii and Wii U came out. It’s difficult to control scheme and development kit made it hard for third parties to develop games for it, let alone port games for other consoles and PC to the unique motion controls. Very infamously, SEGA originally planned on bringing Sonic ’06 to the Wii, but, upon receiving the developer’s kit, it divided its efforts to release the Wii-exclusive Sonic and the Secret Rings alongside Sonic ’06.
So when presented with the Skyrim port on Switch, fans joked that everything can and should be ported to the Switch. The appeal of playing the role-playing game on the go might have validated the joke somewhat, proving that many big games can and would be ported for the console. IGN’s infamous April Fools Day Joke earlier this year fed into this by releasing a mock trailer showcasing “everything” coming to the Switch, which included classic Zelda, Half-Life, and Metal Gear Solid (which, ironically, was one of the few ports available on the Gamecube) — before descending into sheer absurdity. Ironically, many of the games presented as joke ports in the video have actually now become ported to the Switch.
How Did It End Up Like This?
The change started slowly. Many of the early ports, like Shovel Knight, Minecraft, and Stardew Valley were simple games that fit with Nintendo’s general aesthetic, with many of them making sense with the hardware. Nintendo is a family-friendly company, made famous by its platform and adventure games. Stardew Valley draws heavy inspiration from the Harvest Moon franchise, a series that primarily stuck over the years to Nintendo consoles with brief liaisons with the Playstation systems.
Soon, though, the Switch marketplace became filled with games that became popular first on Steam, like Hollow Knight. It soon became apparent that the console would be easier to program for than prior Nintendo consoles. The store was now open for a larger amount of games, with such “classics” Vroom in the Night Sky becoming available.
However, it’s because of its accessibility that ports became announced — even for some games that went against Nintendo’s family-friendly image. It’s not like the company never allowed M-Rated games on its consoles before. The Gamecube included Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes and Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, but those games weren’t as aggressively brutal as, say, Dark Souls.
Since then, all bets are off. Games are being ported to the Switch at an alarming rate. Most recently, Overwatch was brought to the console, though it was criticized at launch for being buggy due in part to the Switch’s hardware limitations. It seems at times that people just see the Switch as a potentially large marketplace without putting in the effort to work on the console. Perhaps it is due to this marketability and ease of development that the Switch Marketplace has become home to so many ports. Even months later, IGN’s April Fools Joke feels far less like a joke and far more like a forlorn prophecy.
Looking on the Bright Side
While many of the games being ported might be too complex for the Switch’s hardware, it remains undeniable that the converted games are being sent to an on the go console. While gaming laptops might have given some players mobile free reign to play Dark Souls while waiting for their dentist’s appointment, it’s undeniable that the Switch’s mobility is a factor to its great success.
To date, the Switch remains the most powerful mobile console on the market. As such, it is easy to understand why it can handle so many popular games, being the only console affordable to families that want to take their gaming experience out of the house.
Furthermore, the Switch is affordable. A gaming laptop can cost upwards over a thousand dollars for effective hardware. Families might not really want to buy that for their kids, but a Switch? Different story. This means that for many young gamers, the Switch will be their first introduction to several properties that PC users have celebrated for years, like Stardew Valley or Hollow Knight. The Switch is a point of accessibility for material that many people might either be unaware exists or incapable of playing.
The Switch might have everything ported to it. This might come across as a bit of a joke, even. But let’s never forget the great benefit that the console serves its users by being one of the best mobile consoles on the market today.
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