The recent Nintendo Direct featured a major spotlight on welcoming third-party ports to the publisher’s hybrid game console. In addition to big first-party IPs, getting these kinds of ports is an exciting way to make other modern games even more accessible in the contemporary age of gaming.
The hybrid handheld/console form factor is a major incentive, and while the Switch is significantly weaker than Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox consoles, there are at least a handful of PS4 and XBO-era games that could be tailored for Nintendo’s platform. Completing FromSoftware’s beloved Dark Souls trilogy would be a great place to start, as well as Rocksteady’s landmark Batman series.
Jurassic World Evolution 2
Porting Frontier Developments’ Jurassic World Evolution 2 would be a small-scale endeavor, and that’s part of why it should be on Nintendo’s slate for the near future. This first game already saw a release on the Switch, and JWE2 makes fundamental improvements over its predecessor.
On top of an expanded roster of prehistoric animals, the game has also introduced new game modes to keep the gameplay loop fresh and streamline existing and new park-building mechanics. Jurassic World Evolution 2 garnered a strong reception for its upgrades, and the park-management simulation genre lends itself well to the Switch’s handheld form.
Dark Souls II: Scholar Of The First Sin
It’s often regarded as the black sheep of FromSoftware’s trilogy by hardcore fans online, but Dark Souls II nonetheless received critical acclaim. The story takes place ages after the events of the original, with the Bearer of the Curse tasked with gathering the Great Souls of the Old Ones in an attempt to break the undead curse.
While some veteran fans didn’t take to the altered level design from the first game, the new atmosphere was praised and its customizable character mechanics gave players depth in crafting builds. The first game was already remastered and ported to the Switch with impressive success, and Scholar of the First Sin was the PS4/XBO remastered port of its initial release. That should make a slightly scaled-down version for Nintendo’s console doable.
Dark Souls III: The Fire Fades Edition
Should Nintendo look to bring the second installment in the Dark Souls series to the Switch, then rounding out the trilogy would be a must. Elden Ring has deservedly become the developer’s crowning achievement so far, but Dark Souls III is still one of FromSoftware’s best games.
The Ashen One travels through the Kingdom of Lothric and beyond to return the defiant Lord Souls back to their thrones to link the First Flame. Featuring some of the most refined combat mechanics in the trilogy, the protagonist ventures across a variety of gloomy and stunning dark-fantasy locales to fight thrilling enemies. The Fire Fades Edition contains all the DLC, and it would make a seamless fit on the Switch.
The aforementioned Nintendo Direct revealed the surprise port of Yoko Taro and Platinum Games’ acclaimed NieR:Automata, which revitalized the JRPG franchise. That success paved the way for the original NieR to get the remastered treatment for the PS4 and XBO in the form of Replicant, and it should be next on Nintendo’s list should Automata‘s port prove successful.
These stories are characterized by their inventive, gloomy fantasy worlds and emotionally profound character-driven storytelling. Porting NieR Replicant shouldn’t be a tough ask, considering it was originally a PS3 and Xbox 360-era game.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Knight is still one of the best modern superhero video games, and it offers an overall satisfying finish to the developer’s revered Arkham trilogy. The Dark Knight sees ghosts from his past come back to haunt him in a psychologically tense storyline, with Scarecrow looking to demolish everything Batman has stood for and turn Gotham into a desolate, fear-ridden hellscape.
Gameplay-wise, Arkham Knight expands its sandbox into a massive and intoxicatingly neon-gothic open world and even more exhilarating freeflow and stealth-action combat. It might be a tall order to run on the Nintendo Switch — and a cloud version wouldn’t even be worth trying — but a Witcher 3-like treatment could be possible.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Survivor Trilogy
Over the decades, Lara Croft has seen multiple iterations in the iconic Tomb Raider series. It was once a PlayStation staple, but the franchise has since expanded its platforms. Crystal Dynamics and Eidos-Montréal’s reboot trilogy has arguably been some of the series’ best, with Lara Croft and her world getting a gritty and cinematic reinvention.
The games tell a compelling character arc for this take on the treasure hunter while incorporating engaging combat and survival gameplay mechanics. The bundled Definitive Survivor Trilogy would make for a nice all-in-one package in a re-release.
It’s a shame Sega hasn’t taken the initiative yet, but the action-adventure Yakuza series seems like a great fit for the Switch’s handheld form factor. To this day, 0 is still frequently cited as one of the best games in the Yakuza series, and even more so for beginners.
As the name suggests, Yakuza 0 tells the origins of protagonist Kiryu Kazuma as well as his eccentric rival Goro Majima as they go through an intertwining Japanese crime drama. The combat is incredibly satisfying and the campy side missions are hilariously entertaining, so it would be the perfect starting point on a new platform. Since the game was built for the PS3 in Japan, Yakuza 0 shouldn’t be a demanding port.
The Yakuza Remastered Collection
Yakuza Kiwami and Kiwami 2 would be the natural next steps after a hypothetical port of 0, but The Yakuza Remastered Collection would also be an easy way to expand the series’ presence into Nintendo’s ecosystem. This collection is comprised of PS4 and XBO remasters of Yakuza 3–5, which were originally exclusive to the PS3.
These versions help facelift the remainder of Kiryu’s dramatic and sprawling character arc to be accessible in a modern setting. With the games already collected in one package, the legwork could already be done should Nintendo and Sega decide to bring it over.
Given the perpetual success that Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has seen across platforms — including the Switch — it’s surprising that the developer hasn’t leaned harder on ports for its major IPs. Bethesda RPGs are some of the most replayable games available, and while Fallout 4 isn’t looked at as fondly as 3 or New Vegas, it earned a solid reception in its own right.
The game follows the “Sole Survivor” as he ventures to rescue his kidnapped son, meeting a variety of characters of different factions across the wasteland. Fans were disappointed in the watered-down RPG mechanics, but the amount of story content and character customization made it an engaging experience.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is another game that might be difficult to effectively scale down to the Switch’s hardware limitations, but it would be worth a shot considering the ever-growing prominence of the Star Wars brand.
Fallen Order is set to get a sequel in the form of Survivor next year for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, but since Nintendo is known for porting major games years after they’ve released, the timing would still be right to port the former. While he only starts to come into his own toward the end, this original story focused on Cal Kestis feels right at home in the greater Star Wars canon.
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