Nov 22, 2019

The Best Nintendo Switch Ports

Released March 3, 2017, the Nintendo Switch has truly revolutionized how video games are played. Instead of traditionally separating console and handheld gaming experiences, Nintendo merged them into one hybrid system. The ability to instantly switch between a docked console experience and the versatility of a handheld experience made imaginations run wild. What if you could play your favorite games in the palm of your hand? Despite some compromises, the Switch has quickly become a home for ports of games from this and past console generations. With a great number of Switch ports already available and plenty more on the way, what ports are the best-of-the-best?


  • Before Fortnite took over the minds and time of kids, Minecraft captured the imagination of kids across the globe back in 2011. Similar to Lego, players were able to build whatever they wanted within Minecraft’s blocky three-dimensional world.

    While there were tons of features offered on the PC and console version of Minecraft, the mobile versions available on iOS and Android were bare-bones at best. Mojang looked to rectify that with the Switch port.

    Now, users not only have Minecraft on the go but the comfortable and precise controls of a stationary console. It’s a win-win.

  • Released in 2014, Mario Kart 8 quite literally turned Nintendo’s venerable kart racer on its head. The gravity-defying racing similar to F-Zero breathed new life in the series’ track design.

    As the best-selling game on a low-selling console, there was no way Nintendo would leave this Mario Kart to languish on the Wii U. As such, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe would release a month after the launch of the Switch.

    While Nintendo could’ve done a quick-and-dirty port and called it day, they added enough new content to earn the Deluxe moniker. New racers, higher resolution, a complete revamp of the much-maligned Battle Mode, and some incredible quality of life improvements are just the tip of what makes this port a must-buy for every Switch owner.

  • Blizzard’s Diablo is synonymous with isometric hack-and-slash action and dungeon crawling. As the third installment in this celebrated series, Diablo III had a lot to live up to when it released in 2012.

    Although it took some time and hard work to live up to those high expectations, Switch owners get the fruit of this labor with Diablo III: Eternal Collection. Including Diablo III and all its extra content, the Eternal Collection comes with exclusive Legend of Zelda items and armor. Plus, the ability to play this acclaimed dungeon crawler on the go makes this package even sweeter.

  • Originally released in 2014, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a direct sequel to Donkey Kong Country Returns. It follows Donkey Kong and friends as they try to take back their home from the invading Snowmads.

    Much like Mario Kart 8, Nintendo didn’t want this highly rated platformer stuck on the Wii U. As such, Nintendo and Retro Studios brought Tropical Freeze to the Switch a year after the console’s release.

    Unlike Mario platformers, the Donkey Kong Country games have become notorious for their difficulty. In order to help those who haven’t built that kind of hand-eye coordination, Retro added Funky Mode. Playing as Funky Kong, players are given an extra heart, a floating jump, and immunity to spikes to help ease them into the game.

  • One of the great Kickstarter success stories, Shovel Knight takes bits and pieces of NES classics — namely Castlevania, DuckTales, and Mega Man—and melds into a modern 8-bit masterpiece. Despite being released in 2014, the game is still in the spotlight.

    In addition to the main game — now known as Shovel of Hope — Yacht Club Games is still coming out with new DLC campaigns for Shovel Knight. While you can buy the campaigns separately, the Treasure Trove includes everything for a discounted price.

    While the Switch port doesn’t differ much from other ports, it does offer some ease to co-op. Being able to split the Joy-Con into its left-and-right mini controllers makes co-op much easier to set up on the fly.

  • First released in 2015, Undertale centers around a child that has fallen into an area under the Earth’s surface. Although your quest is to return home, how you go about getting there is entirely up to the player. Do you kill all the monsters in your way? Or are you a pacifist? These decisions and more play a huge role in Undertale as they entice players to invest in multiple playthroughs.

    Undertale finally made its way to the Switch in 2018. But what makes this Switch port special? According to Jordan Sirani of IGN, the game “simply feels right on Switch.” As an added bonus, developer 8-4 included an exclusive miniboss, Mad Mew Mew.

  • The story of Doom’s Switch port goes hand-in-hand with Panic Button’s rise as the developer to call on for quality Switch ports. Considering the Switch’s specs, a port of 2016’s Doom reboot was thought to be nigh impossible. There was no way anybody could transfer the graphical fidelity and speed to an underpowered machine.

    Despite some concessions being made in terms of graphics and making the multiplayer mode a separate download, Panic Button proved everybody wrong. Doom for Switch played just as good as it did on other consoles. Plus, its fast-paced gunplay was perfectly suited for Handheld Mode.

  • Back in 2015, Rocket League came out of nowhere. Releasing as one of the free PlayStation Plus games for the month of its launch, this mash-up of rocket-powered cars and soccer became an instant success. With all this success, Psyonix would start porting the game over to Xbox One and eventually the Switch with the help of Panic Button.

    Although Rocket League’s Switch port knocks the resolution down to 720p, it runs at a steady clip. Add in portable play and exclusive Mario and Luigi skins and you got an excellent competitive game for the Switch.

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