For nearly four years now, we’d estimate there’s one question more than any other that developers and PR people of the world’s cutting edge video games have heard and perhaps come to dread: “Is it coming to Switch?”.
Those responsible for delivering the latest and greatest video games must be exhausted with that question, but the amount of times it’s repeated is a sure-fire indicator of an appetite to see as many games as possible come to Nintendo’s console. And while it’s disappointing to hear the boilerplate ‘we have nothing to announce at this time’ (and equally depressing to deliver it, we’d imagine), we’re equally overjoyed when something unexpected does have Nintendo Switch listed under ‘Platforms’.
We’ve seen some stunning ports since Switch first launched, and 2020 was no exception. When a developer and publisher take the time and effort to craft a really fine Switch version of a game — especially for titles we thought had little chance of squeezing onto Nintendo’s handheld — they really deserve to be highlighted and credited for that sterling work. Therefore, we’ve put together our list of the top 10 Switch ports of 2020.
Publisher: Supergiant Games / Developer: Supergiant Games
We begin with a game that’s no stranger to GOTY 2020 lists, although you’ll likely find it much higher up on most others. Supergiant’s Hades just sneaks onto the bottom of this one because unlike every other entry on the list, it launched day and date with the 1.0 version on PC and totally held its own alongside it. It belongs in the ranks of rarefied Switch ports like Cuphead and Alien: Isolation which look practically as good on the TV as the other versions (and you can’t play any of them in the back of the car, can you?).
The odd framerate dip aside, this was a fantastic Switch version right out of the gate and deserves recognition as such.
It may be running in the cloud and being streamed to your Switch from a more powerful remote server, but we still came away from Control Ultimate Edition mightily impressed. We wouldn’t want this to become the solution for getting games to Switch that could run on Nintendo’s hardware given the appropriate investment of budget and time, but the reality is that there would be no Control on Switch without the power of cloud tech. Your experience will vary according to the quality of your internet, and anyone who buys it must realise that the game will disappear once those servers are turned off, but it’s still an impressive showcase for the potential of cloud tech in certain cases.
Publisher: RebellionInteract / Developer: Rebellion
Visual downgrades are to be expected with Switch ports, but games like Sniper Elite 4 take that in their stride. With all-important gyro controls present and correct for fine-tuning your aim, and great performance whether you’re docked on your telly or sniping nazis while out and about, this bloody Switch port was a highlight of our 2020.
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Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Two Point Studios
We’re always amazed when a game you think of as primarily a PC experience is adapted brilliantly for consoles (you’ll find a couple more entries further up the list that fit into that category). Two Point Hospital is filled with all the hospital management and humour you could hope for, and its love for Bullfrog’s Theme Hospital is hanging out the back of its gown, but the work that Two Point Studios put into translating the game to handheld makes it shine on Nintendo’s console. Check it out, stat.
Publisher: No More Robots / Developer: Tendershoot
This one snuck out unexpectedly on Switch, and you may need to have been a web surfer in the ’90s to feel the full brunt of this nostalgia hit from Tendershoot and No More Robots. It’s the attention to detail that makes us love satirical puzzler Hypnospace Outlaw, and that extends to the thoughtfulness of this Switch port and its interface. The game plays beautifully via the touchscreen or Joy-Cons, but it also includes (at Nintendo’s request, apparently) mouse and keyboard support for ultimate authenticity. A real gem.
Publisher: Frontier Developments / Developer: Frontier Developments
Another game we went into with a certain amount of pessimism, Frontier Developments did a fantastic job squeezing Jurassic World Evolution: Complete Edition onto Nintendo’s console. A side-by-side comparison with the game running on other platforms would obviously highlight the limitations of Switch’s handheld version running on a mobile chipset, but the fact that this dino park management sim runs on Switch feature-intact — and runs thoroughly respectably, too — was deeply impressive. Frontier found a way, indeed.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Monolith Soft
A fantastic update of the Wii release ten years on, Monolithsoft spruced up the original version of this classic RPG with carefully considered improvements that streamline the experience while preserving and polishing its classic core. The added side portion of bonus content in the Future Connected epilogue was the cherry on top of this most substantial of cakes, and in a year where a re-release of a decade-old RPG might have got a little lost in the commotion, it’s worth remembering what a fabulous treat Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition really was.
Publisher: Deep Silver / Developer: 4A Games
Both classic First-Person Shooters that comprise the Metro Redux collection (which we’ve cunningly included here to open up another slot in our top 10 list!) are showcase examples of how to give games from the 360/PS3 era new life on Nintendo’s platform. The Redux versions of Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light feature rock solid framerates and sumptuous visuals in handheld form. Developer 4A Games really did a bang-up job on these, so check them out if they passed you by.
Publisher: iam8bit / Developer: Moon Studios
Following the surprise release of the previously Xbox console exclusive Ori and the Blind Forest, anyone not in the know might have thought ‘yes, of course they’ll bring the sequel to Switch, too!‘. Ori and the Will of the Wisps pushes technical boundaries that its predecessor went nowhere near, though, and following its launch on Xbox One — which saw shaky performance even on the then-mighty Xbox One X — we thought there was precisely zero chance of seeing this beauty on Switch.
Fortunately, we were proved totally wrong and Moon Studios absolutely knocked it out of the park with this remarkable Switch version. We spoke to the team behind it back in October — check out our interview to find out more about how on earth they managed it, and most definitely play this gem.
Similarly to the previous entry, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Switch version of this was a foregone conclusion after Panic Button’s stunning port of DOOM 2016, but id Software really pushed the boat out in the sequel and, frankly, we’re amazed to see this running on Nintendo’s console in any form. While the luscious gore-tinted visuals of other platforms are necessarily scaled back on Switch, the fast-paced, relentless action of this shooter means that you rarely get the chance to stop and smell the roses anyway. We spoke to Panic Button about the port process just prior to release, and although we were cautiously optimistic that the extra time taken with the Switch port would yield good results (from a team with a proven track record, too), we still braced ourselves for disappointment.
We needn’t have worried; the base gameplay experience here is just as gripping as on any other platform. The competition was fierce, but the Doom Slayer came out on top in 2020 — DOOM Eternal is a truly remarkable feat and utterly worthy of the title ‘Best Switch Port of 2020’.
Think we’ve missed something spectacular? Reckon Super Mario 3D All-Stars deserves a spot? Let us know below the ports you’ve enjoyed this year.