A reader worries that recent Switch games have all had performance issues and asks what if the same is true of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom?
I would say that 2022 has been a very good year for Nintendo. Unlike Microsoft and Sony they’ve been able to put out a lot of good games, including a number at Christmas, and all of them have either been critical or commercial hits, and most of them both.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus, Kirby And The Forgotten Land, Nintendo Switch Sports, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Splatoon 3, Bayonetta 3, and Pokémon Scarlet and Violet… all of those have been unqualified success from Nintendo’s point of view. Heck, Splatoon 3 and the Pokémon games were record breakers, and considering how long Nintendo has been in the business their records go back a long way.
But there is something that’s becoming clear this year and that’s that the Nintendo Switch is showing its age. It’s coming up to its sixth anniversary and it wasn’t exactly state-of-the-art, in terms of graphics, when it was brand new. So while Bayonetta 3 was warmly received by critics there was a lot of talk about how it only barely worked on the Switch.
Then came Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, where the only thing anyone wants to talk about is the performance, to the point where people are asking for refunds. That seems a little over-the-top to me, but the point is that the ideas developers have for games seem to be pushing up against the limits of what the Switch is actually capable of.
Which brings me to the question: what about Tears Of The Kingdom? The performance in Breath Of The Wild wasn’t always watertight, especially in terms of frame rate, and I do wonder how it would be received now in the same state. More to the point, what if Teas Of The Kingdom’s performance is the same or worse?
There are a lot of interesting theories about how Tears Of The Kingdom is meant to be Nintendo’s last big Switch game, and that it’ll be upgraded to work on the Switch 2, but as relatively plausible as that might be there’s zero evidence for it and with Nintendo, as with most things, it’s usually best to go with the simplest explanation.
In that case it’s that the game will look and play pretty much the same as Breath Of The Wild, except probably with worse performance because they’re trying to do more with it.
The eternal problem for Nintendo is that they’re so full of good ideas and talented artists and developers and yet they’re always forced to work with outdated technology. But that technology is at the heart of what makes Nintendo successful and independent, so you can’t really separate the two. Some fans might dream of Nintendo publishing games on the PlayStation 5, but they would have to transform into such a different company to do so I would no longer be confident about the quality of their games.
Even so, I confidently predict that if Tears Of The Kingdom does perform more like Pokémon Scarlet/Violet, rather than the sort of high end 60fps next gen games some fans will be hoping for, then we’re going to see a lot of tantrums and angry rhetoric being thrown around.
As long as it sells, which I’m sure it will, Nintendo won’t care but I fear the well has already been poisoned and that all future Switch games are going to be hounded about their graphics, no matter how well they play.
You would’ve thought that Nintendo fans, of all people, would understand what’s most important but maybe they’re at least partially right and the Switch is getting a bit too old for this type of thing…
By reader Specter
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