The Nintendo Switch is by no means a graphics powerhouse, especially when compared to its stationary home console competitors. Still, there were plenty of instances where the hybrid laptop managed to close the gap as much as it could, delivering impressive results.
However, a handful of major titles fail in the visual department. Of course, they have room for improvements in the future, and the developers have indeed come up with better results with newer titles. But for now, that’s how it is.
These Nintendo Switch games highlight what the platform is capable of
1) Crysis 3 Remastered
Announced as part of the Crysis Remastered trilogy, Crysis 3 is still a gorgeous game nearly a decade later. It was first released in 2013 on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
Crytek and Saber Interactive brought the title to the Nintendo Switch last year, and to many gamers’ surprise, it holds up well on the handheld. It’s the same thrilling experience that appealed to gamers back in the day.
The graphics are crisp and the game features improved visuals like better foliage, although the Switch version takes after the PS3/360 render.
2) Rise of the Monster Hunter
The first Monster Hunter title to use Capcom’s in-house RE Engine is also the engine’s debut on the handheld system.
Monster Hunter Rise is a technical highlight designed from the ground up for the Nintendo Switch. Superbly detailed character models rival the PS4 (especially noticeable in cutscenes).
Smooth animations, crisp lighting, shadows, and use of color stand out and elevate the game. It may not be the best RE Engine title visually, but Capcom has made great use of technology to the target material.
It remains to be seen how Sunbreak’s next expansion will expand on this base, if at all.
3) Astral Chain
One of the hottest new Nintendo IPs since Splatoon on the Wii U, Platinum Games delivered Astral Chain in 2019 for the Nintendo Switch. The cyberpunk hack & slash RPG was a bold new direction for the Japanese development team as it introduced two simultaneously controlled characters into the action-focused formula.
That aside, the game is also a spectator. It has sleek cel-shaded visuals, an eye-catching neon aesthetic, and plenty of on-screen effects, all paired with fast-paced combat.
4) Metroid Dread
The latest entry in the long-running Metroidvania series brings the iconic Metroid saga into the HD era for the first time. Acting as a sequel to 2002’s Metroid Fusion, Metroid Dread is built on the Nintendo 3DS remake of Metroid 2, Samus Returns.
MercurySteam made sure it got the best treatment out of all of its games. The result is a sleek 2.5D adventure that not only adds a touch of survival horror to the experience, but is also one of the most beautiful platformers on the system, with excellent materials, lighting and minor attention to detail.
5) Luigi’s mansion 3
The latest installment in the underrated Luigi’s Mansion series was released in 2019. Next Level Games puts its A-game front and center, delivering something resembling the work of animation studio Pixar.
Yet all of its visuals run entirely in real-time at a native 1080p resolution. The thick atmosphere is further accentuated by charming animation work. Excellent use of lighting, shadows, and intricately detailed assets also combine to create a playable CGI movie, especially in handheld mode.
Nintendo Switch games that disappoint with visuals
1) Mortal Kombat 11
Mortal Kombat 11 is a surprisingly decent port for developer Shiver Entertainment’s Big N handheld, most things considered. Bloody 1v1 battles clock in at a largely stable 60 FPS with good visual fidelity. So why is he making this list? The crypt.
This third-person adventure mode allows players to navigate areas to solve puzzles and collect Koins from chests. Unfortunately, this takes the biggest visual hit of the Nintendo Switch version, with a low-res image and particularly distracting fog a few feet in front of the player character spoiling the experience for players.
2) Fire Emblem: Three Houses
The latest Nintendo Switch project from Intelligent Systems and Koei Tecmo was their first project creating a traditional Fire Emblem experience on an HD console. Yet the results were far from flattering. Three Houses’ biggest drawback is its bland, basic environments that are often sterile.
Aliasing (jagged edges) on character models and low resolution environmental assets also takes away experience. The result is an experience that saps the capabilities of the hardware.
3) Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
Considered one of the “impossible” ports on Nintendo Switch, Saber Interactive has made the impossible possible by bringing ID Software’s 2017 alternate history shooter to the handheld. The results were surprising, as was the full console experience on the go, but the trade-offs were far too severe in some areas.
Although many core visuals were retained, most notably the resolution, which could drop down to 360p when docked. It’s easily the weakest port among Bethesda’s consumer offerings on the platform.
4) Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Developer Game Freak is renowned for its Pokemon games on Nintendo handhelds. However, they seem to have struggled to adapt to the Mario maker’s latest handheld. Pokemon Legends Arceus is their latest game, and while the art style is appealing, the results still look lackluster.
Add in the poor textures, level of detail and, again, barren worlds and the final product feels inferior to other comparable games like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It also has to do with how many Pokemon games the studio has released on the platform so far, but that still puts them in a bad spot.
5) Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition
The GTA Trilogy includes GTA 3, GTA San Andreas, and GTA Vice City, all remastered for modern platforms in Unreal Engine 4. Too bad Rockstar’s latest project got a massive backlash as they somehow desecrated some of the games most revered of all time.
The shiny new aesthetic clashes with the old visual base of the games, ending up with something that looks half-baked. This also applies to poorly implemented elements that have since been toned down to some degree since, such as rain effects and ranged fog. However, it will go down as one of the worst remasters in video game history and put the acclaimed developer in a sticky spot.
Note: This article is subjective and reflects the opinion of the author.