Cognition Dissemination: A Defense for Switch Ports

Nintendo fans had been anticipating a new Nintendo Direct this month. The Nintendo Direct Mini, however, wasn’t quite what they expected, uploaded directly to YouTube instead of being broadcasted on streaming services like Twitch. That happened because they didn’t have any mind-blowing software to announce for Switch for release in the first half of 2018, and it was shorter than the usual Direct at a little over 14 minutes. But most were impressed with what was shown.

There was one general complaint about the showcase: A lot of ports were announced to Switch. Seven title announcements were made for Switch on the Direct, but the only new games among them were Mario Tennis Aces and SNK Heroines: Tag Team Fury — the latter of which is also coming to PS4. The others are either enhanced ports or remasters of games released for the last console generation. Needless to say, every game writer who predicted that a lot of ports will be making their way to Switch this year was bang-on.

(Of course, this means I should have included that among my list of predictions at the beginning of the year. Oh well.)

Despite the level of complaints, I’m not seeing an issue with this. In fact, I’m encouraging it. Ports give plenty of owners another opportunity to play a game they missed the first time due to various circumstances. There’s also a chance to replay them on a new platform, especially if extra polish or content has been added. But the added bonus for Switch is that many of these were previously only released for consoles, but will be playable as handheld titles, which makes a difference for anyone who doesn’t have much time to play games while tethered to the TV these days.

While five ports were announced on the recent Direct Mini, two are coming sooner than them. Dragon Quest Builders will release for Switch in western territories on February 9th, with Nintendo publishing the title. This won’t be the first time it will be available for a handheld, as it released on Vita digitally from Square Enix, but it will give the sizable number of people in the west another opportunity to play it. Hopefully Nintendo advertises it.

Also coming is Bayonetta 1 & 2, which is an important package. It’s easy to play the first Bayonetta these days, thanks to it also being on Steam and the 360 version being backwards compatible on Xbox One. But Bayonetta 2 was only released on Wii U thanks to its development being funded by Nintendo after the cancellation, so this will be another opportunity to play the game on an actually successful system.

The chance to play these games again also applies to other titles announced on the Direct, including Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. The former title will give players the chance to play all the new content from the 3DS version in HD, which also justifies the port. But in addition to the “New Funky Mode” (and the possibly-short-lived meme it created), perhaps people will actually buy Tropical Freeze this time around. It sold nowhere near as well as predecessor Donkey Kong Country Returns, which released on the overwhelmingly popular Wii, but could make up for those lost sales here.

Dark Souls Remastered is coming to all current-generation platforms, but the Switch version is garnering a lot of attention for two key reasons. This will be the first Dark Souls game to release on a Nintendo platform, and will be the first FromSoftware title to hit one in a good while. This will also be the first way to officially play it on a handheld. (Not including handheld PC gaming systems like the GPD Win.) Neither From nor publisher Bandai Namco has clarified whether there will be any changes to how Dark Souls will play on Switch as a handheld, thanks to the necessity of the game being played online. But they have plenty of time to detail it before its May 25th release.

Basically, there are a lot of ports coming to Switch! I’ll end the semi-list here, because I’m sure you get the point by now.

I can understand the concerns of owners who believe there’s a chance there could be nothing but ports coming to the system in the near future, but this is happening for good reasons. There were reports from late last year which specified how the Switch’s success caught some publishers off guard in Japan. They’re preparing new games for the system, but they largely won’t be ready until 2019. Meanwhile, the biggest western developers have a history of ignoring Nintendo platforms, so software support here will have to come from the few remaining mid-tier developers and indie developers. Indies, in fairness, embraced the system shortly after it launched last year, and they’ve been rewarded with great sales.

Also, there were plenty of people asking for Nintendo to port Wii U games to Switch, which will give many of these games another chance on a system that’s selling well. Monolith Soft president and Xenogears/Xenosaga director Tetsuya Takahashi says he wants Xenoblade Chronicles X to be ported to the system, so that’s another one that could arrive in the future. But that likely won’t happen until after Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s DLC releases.

Brand-new games should start being announced later this year, but don’t be surprised if Nintendo themselves has titles to present before that. After all, they haven’t shown the new Yoshi game since it was announced at E3 last year, and it could get a date soon given the previously-confirmed release timeframe of “early 2018.”

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