In fact, many are better than the original format
The Nintendo Switch has been a rousing success for the company that brought us Mario and Luigi, but it’s in a weird position among other current-generation consoles. While the Switch benefits from support for the latest game engines and graphical features, it’s raw horsepower is a major step down from the PS4 or even Xbox One.
So most current-gen ports need to make some pretty major concessions in order to run well enough. Games like Doom 2016 and Mortal Kombat 11 look amazing compared to any other handheld games, but are obviously technically inferior compared to the other versions.
The Switch is however more powerful than the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii and even the Wii U. Which makes it the perfect target for games from that console generation and the half-step generation the Wii U represented.
In order to be on this list a game has to:
- Debut on an older generation system.
- Be well-received critically.
- Not have been as widely played originally.
So you aren’t going to find a game like Skyrim here, because although it is a previous-generation game, it’s one of the most popular games ever made. So there’s almost no chance anyone might have not known about it or missed playing it. You will however find Wii U ports here, because hardly anyone bought that console, despite it having some stellar titles.
It also doesn’t matter if these games have received current-gen ports on other platforms. Without exception, the Switch is the only console to offer these games in handheld form with physical controls. In fact, many of these titles are better because they fit the handheld format more comfortably than their original console homes.
So, here are ten Switch games that were ported from previous generations machines you might have missed, but should totally give a chance today.
Dragon’s Dogma was originally a PS3 title and the “Dark Arisen” version includes all the DLC for that game. It’s made by Capcom, the legendary Japanese developer that has brought us games like Street Fighter and Resident Evil. Quite a pedigree.
Dragon’s Dogma is a unique title in their stable however. It’s a Japanese take on the Western RPG formula. In that way, it’s somewhat similar to Dark Souls, but this is a proper open-world RPG in the vein of Skyrim or Dragon Age.
You play as the “Arisen”, a fisherman (or woman) who bravely stands up to a dragon attack. Only to have said dragon rip out your heart and swallow it. This ends up being less fatal than it sounds and you set off to retrieve your missing ticker, sporting some new powers as a result of your beachside open heart surgery.
There’s a lot of RPG to chew through here, but crucially the combat is fantastic, mixing Capcom’s action gaming chops with vast open-world RPG questing. The game has also been remastered for PS4 and PC, where you’ll find the nicest graphics.
However, as a handheld game there’s simply nothing like this and if you missed out the first time it should be pretty close to the top of your wishlist.
Okami HD is actually a port of a port. The original game released on the PS2 and Wii, making great use of the latter’s motion controls to control an in-game brush that paints the world.
Of the two, the Wii version is the one to play thanks to the motion controls, but it was considered a classic on either platform. The game got an HD release on the PS3, PS4 and Xbox One, but the Switch version is the one to play as of today. Not only do you get the portable option, but you can use motion controls as intended.
Visually, the game is striking. You play as the titular Japanese god, in the form of a white wolf. The world has been cursed and it’s up to you as Amaterasu Kami, the sun goddess of Japan, to restore the drained world. It’s a rich tale steeped in Japanese mythology.
Okami is a critically acclaimed title that never sold many copies on its launch platforms. It’s hard to compare it to anything else and that uniqueness is one of its major selling points.
If you want to play an action adventure game with an offbeat plot and an unforgettable visual style, you need to give Okami a chance.
Valkyria Chronicles is another hidden gem that people seemed to sleep on. When the game originally launched on the PS3 its sales were dismal. Oddly enough, it was the PC port on Steam that’s done the best. Half of the two million copies of the game that have been sold prior to the Switch ports have been on Steam.
Valkyria Chronicles is a 3D, turn-based strategy RPG. Set in an alternative world, you command a group of troops fighting in a World War type scenario, with tanks, snipers, rocket launchers and so on. The story is quite a strong part of the game, but its beautiful graphics, amazing soundtrack and anime-style characters add up to one compelling title.
Strangely enough, the first game is the only mainline title in the series not to have a portable release. Numbers 2 and 3 were both Sony PSP exclusives, with the fourth game also available on Switch.
If you’re waiting on the new Fire Emblem game to scratch that SRPG itch, you could do far worse than picking up Valkyria Chronicles to tide you over. It’s the very definition of a hidden gem.
Right now LA Noire is the only game from fame Rockstar Studios on the Switch. We are yet to see any of the Grand Theft Auto Games ported, although GTA 5 and older all seem feasible consider their previous-generation releases.
In the pantheon of Rockstar games, LA Noire is a bit of an odd duck and certainly not a mainstream hit like GTA or Red Dead Redemption. Nor is it quite as obscure as Bully. This game puts you in the shoes of a 1950s detective, solving a series of cases in a beautifully recreated period Los Angeles. The game isn’t open world in the same way that GTA is, but it certainly has some of that scope when traversing the city.
The most unique feature of this game is however the facial capture technology used to animate character faces. Everyone is played by a real actor whose face was scanned using a special setup. The effect is very interesting and there has been nothing like it since.
The game has a great story, unique graphics and a pretty good price given how much content you get. If you’re itching for a hard-boiled, adult detective story then this is the one to go for.
PlatinumGames is a studio that has made a name for itself crafting some of the tightest action games ever made. Metal Gear Rising, Transformers Devastation and the utter masterpiece Nier Automata showcase just how good they are at making games in this genre.
Bayonetta was only the third game ever developed by Platinum games, but it has all the key ingredients that would come to represent their brand: fantastic controls and animation, bonkers set-pieces and relentless action.
The game launched on PS3 and Xbox 360. It also came to the Windows world. Bayonetta and her debut game were pretty well-received overall, but the game never reached more than cult status. For various reasons, the sequel was exclusive to the Wii U, which meant fans of the franchise mostly missed out on it.
Now the Switch is the second platform to get the sequel, updated to modern standards. Not only this, but Bayonetta 3 is confirmed for the hybrid console. So you can have the entire trilogy in one place and on the go. So now a modern audience can experience being a centuries-old shape shifting witch laying waste to a literal army of bad guys.
Here’s a tip as well, it’s worth buying the physical copy of Bayonetta 2, since it included the download code for the first game as well. This is almost always cheaper than buying the digital downloads separately.
The Switch received a fantastic port of the stellar Diablo 3 ARPG and will soon get the cult-hit Torchlight 2. So fans of hack and slash isometric(ish) RPGs have plenty to play already, but you’d be remiss in looking past Titan Quest. Diablo and Torchlight share developers and both franchises trade in a darker fantasy tone. Torchlight has a steampunk focus, with Diablo revelling in old-school biblical heaven and hell conflict.
Titan Quest is therefore a breath of fresh air, despite originally launching for PC in 2006. The game is set in Greece and draws on Greek mythology for its setting and style. Apart from the God of War games, few titles have tilled this fertile soil.
The game has received a remaster on various platforms and even has Android and iOS ports, but the Switch version is the most complete portable version. With reimagined physical controls and the DLC content that the mobile version lacks, there’s a lot of content here for ARPG fans.
The graphics still look pretty good despite its age and this has proper split-screen co-op, which means you and your buddy can wander wherever you like. Titan Quest is definitely an old-school ARPG, but sometimes “old-school” is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Racing games that feature vehicles that hover have a strong niche presence in the gaming world. Nintendo consoles are of course known for F-Zero and on the Playstation side of things we have the Wipeout games.
Both are series with a long history and strong fan bases, so a new pretender to the crown has a lot to accomplish. Yet, when Shin’en Multimedia released Fast Racing Neo on the Wii U, they nailed it. This is a gorgeous, fast racer featuring detailed ships and pulse-pounding racing on fantastic tracks. The problem is that the Wii U turned out to be a bit of a dud when it came to the install base.
Now we have Fast RMX, an expanded, tweaked and improved version of the original game. On the Switch the game plays as smooth as butter, with wonderful local split-screen coop to boot. It’s one of the best looking games on the console and without a contemporary F-Zero or Wipeout to contend with, it’s easily the best new hover racing title you can buy today.
Final Fantasy 12 is another game that was originally a PS2 port and then got remastered for the PS4. Now we have additional ports for Switch and Xbox One. While Final Fantasy games are usually absolute blockbusters, number 12 had some things counting against it.
The main issue was that it released very late in the PS2 life cycle. A mere eight months before the PS3 launched. For some perspective, this game sold fewer than half the copies that Final Fantasy 7 did.
Which is a pity, because it’s a real gem. Much more polished than the beloved, fully-voiced Final Fantasy X, this game takes us back to Ivalice. A beautiful fantasy world seen in games like the very underrated Vagrant Story and the excellent Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions.
The remaster has worked wonders with the fuzzy PS2 graphics with the FF art style and design language as strong as ever. This Zodiac Age edition is the definitive version of the game, containing all the quality of life improvements, new job system and patches for the game.
Taking this grind-heavy game on the go is the perfect fit and there’s never been a better way to experience this epic Star-Wars-y fantasy tale and its colorful cast of characters, out to save a plucky little kingdom from a seemingly evil empire. If you like JRPGs but missed out on FF12, the time to pull the trigger is now.
You might be surprised to see Dark Souls on this list, because the game is rather infamous. Yet, although most gamers are aware of the game’s existence, not that many copies have been sold. The original Dark Souls has sold fewer than 2.5 million copies across the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC versions. So it really is a game that plenty of people have missed out on.
Now there’s a remastered edition for the mainline platforms, with a surprising port for the Switch as well. This is the original game with quite a bit more polish. Many people were put off by the game’s perceived difficulty, but actually Dark Souls is simply a game about practicing and planning, with frequent deaths being a normal part of the gameplay loop.
The move to handheld actually does the game plenty of favors. You can pick up and play an iterative loop of this Dark Fantasy masterpiece whenever you have a few minutes to spare, which means getting ganked and returning to the last bonfire doesn’t feel particularly frustrating. This is a beautiful, brutal and very rewarding game. It’s not being sold at the full AAA price either, so there are plenty of reasons to consider adding it to your Switch collection.
Darksiders is available on quite a few platforms, starting with the PS3 and Xbox 360. Despite being on just about every platform you can think of, it’s barely sold more than a million copies. Which is surprising since it’s such a good game.
You play War, the horseman of the apocalypse. He messes up the timing of the end times and the world gets trashed much sooner than it should have been. War is punished for this, although he maintains his innocence. So you set out trying to figure out what went wrong in a dark fantasy action game that spans multiple genres.
The art style is graphic novel cool, the writing is tight and the voice acting superb. Especially the performance from Mark Hamill, who plays your demon companion. The action is spot on and feels like God of War with a good dose of 3D Zelda and Devil May Cry mixed in.
This is the “warmastered” edition, which includes significant upgrades to performance and visuals. The second game in the series also looks to be heading to Switch, with the third merely rumoured to follow it there.
If you like the old-school 3D Zeldas, the DMC games or Kratos’ gruff murder sprees, this is surely a title to get for your Switch.