Eventually You Need to Upgrade

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Nintendo Life: XEL - Promising Zelda-Style Sci-Fi Adventuring That Falls Short On Switch

Sections of the map will slowly spawn into existences as you approach, breaking the immersion that the developers are working so hard to create. The worst technical issue, however, is the stuttering frame rate that shows up when groups of enemies surround Reid. In both docked and handheld modes, the game doesn’t run smoothly enough. It feels like a case of Tiny Roar’s ambitions outstripping its budget, resulting in a game that tries to run before it can walk.

The Nintendo Switch has been a great success, and I think it has years ahead of it, but stories like this come up more and more, and I think it's what going to push Nintendo to release a new console with more power in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future.

Game developers/publishers want to put their games on the Switch because the installed base is huge and people love to buy games on their Switch (even if they own it already on another platform). This has lead to the Switch being an incredible platform for everyone, but there seem to be a lot more games like XEL that are just not able to deliver a quality experience on the Switch's aged hardware. As a reminder, the Switch uses a basically unmodified Tegra X1 system on a chip which was first seen in the NVIDIA Shield in 2015.

Besides XEL, Pokémon Legends: Arceus was a fun Pokémon game this spring, but it was massively held back by the old tech and was clearly pushing beyond what the Switch can do fluidly. And then you have games like Kingdom Hearts, Hitman 3, Control, and a handful of other games that are released as "cloud versions" which means they run on a remote server that streams the video back to your Switch. Reviews of these titles are not good, and I find it exceptionally hard to recommend anyone buy these games.

Halfway through 2022 the Switch has been the top-selling console (by units, Xbox has made more money) so there isn't an emergency for Nintendo, and I don't mean to suggest Nintendo needs to match the power of Sony or Microsoft's consoles to compete, but there is a point where hardware (even Nintendo hardware) is so far off the industry that it's not able to deliver the value to customers that it once did. I think we're pretty close to this being a real problem for the Switch.