The Nintendo Switch is by no means a graphical powerhouse, especially compared to its stationary home console competitors. Yet there have been many instances where the hybrid portable has managed to bridge the gap as much as it can, delivering impressive results.
However, a handful of major titles fall short in the visual department. Of course, they have room for improvement in the future, and the developers have indeed offered better results with newer titles. But for now, it is what it is.
These Nintendo Switch games highlight what the platform is capable of
1) Crysis 3 Remastered
Announced as part of the Crysis Remastered Trilogy, Crysis 3 is still a great-looking game almost a decade later. It was first released in 2013 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.
Crytek and Saber Interactive brought the title to the Nintendo Switch last year, and, to many players' surprise, it holds up well on the handheld. It is the same thrilling experience that wowed gamers back then.
The graphics look sharp, and the game boasts improved visual elements like better foliage, even though the Switch version takes after the PS3/360 rendition.
2) Monster Hunter Rise
The first Monster Hunter title to utilize Capcom's in-house RE Engine is also the engine's debut on the portable system.
Monster Hunter Rise is a technical highlight built from the ground up for the Nintendo Switch. Superbly detailed character models rival PS4 (especially noticeable in cutscenes).
Fluid animations, crisp lighting, shadows, and use of color stand out and elevate the game. It may not be the visually best RE Engine title out there, but Capcom has made great use of the tech for the target hardware.
It remains to be seen how the upcoming Sunbreak expansion expands upon this foundation, if at all.
3) Astral Chain
One of the most hyped new first-party Nintendo IPs since Splatoon on the Wii U, Platinum Games delivered Astral Chain in 2019 for the Nintendo Switch. The cyberpunk hack & slash RPG was a bold new direction for the Japanese development team as it introduced two simultaneously-controlled characters to the action-driven formula.
That aside, the game is a looker too. It's got stylish celshaded visuals, an eye-catching neon aesthetic, and plenty of effects on-screen, all paired with fast-paced combat.
4) Metroid Dread
The latest entry in the long-running Metroidvania series ushers the iconic Metroid saga into the HD era for the first time. Acting as a sequel to 2002's Metroid Fusion, Metroid Dread is built upon the foundation of the Nintendo 3DS remake of Metroid 2, Samus Returns.
MercurySteam ensured it received the best treatment of any of its games. The result is a slick 2.5D adventure that doesn't just add a survival horror flair to the experience but is also one of the best-looking platformers on the system, with excellent materials, lighting, and minor attention to detail.
5) Luigi's Mansion 3
The latest installment in the underrated Luigi's Mansion series was released in 2019. Next Level Games brings their A-game to the front, delivering something akin to work from the animation studio Pixar.
Yet all its visuals run fully in real-time at a native 1080p resolution. The thick atmosphere is further accentuated by charming animation work. Great use of lighting, shadows, and intricately detailed assets also combines to create a playable CGI movie, especially in handheld mode.
Nintendo Switch games that disappoint with visuals
1) Mortal Kombat 11
Mortal Kombat 11 is a surprisingly decent port for Big N's handheld from developer Shiver Entertainment, most things considered. The 1v1 gory battles soar at largely stable 60 FPS at good visual fidelity. So why does it make this list? The Krypt.
This third-person adventure mode sees players navigate areas to solve puzzles and collect Koins from chests. Unfortunately, this takes the biggest visual hit in the Nintendo Switch version, with a low-resolution image and a particularly bothersome fog a few meters ahead of the player character that ruins the experience for players.
2) Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Intelligent Systems and Koei Tecmo's last Nintendo Switch project was their debut in making a traditional Fire Emblem experience on an HD console. Yet, the results were less than flattering. The biggest drawback of Three Houses is its bland and basic environments that are often barren.
The aliasing (jagged edges) on character models and low-resolution environmental assets also take away from experience. The result is an experience that undermines the capabilities of the hardware.
3) Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
Considered one of the "impossible" ports on Nintendo Switch, Saber Interactive made the impossible possible by bringing ID Software's 2017 alternate history shooter to the portable. The results were surprising, as was the full-fat console experience on the go, but the compromises were far too severe in some areas.
While a lot of the core visuals were retained, notably the resolution, which could drop as low as 360p when docked. It's easily the weakest port among Bethesda's mainstream offerings on the platform.
4) Pokemon Legends: Arceus
Developer Game Freak is renowned for its Pokemon games on Nintendo handhelds. However, they seem to have had a rough time adjusting to the latest portable from the Mario maker. Pokemon Legends Arceus is their latest game, and while the art style is appealing, the results still look drab.
Add in the poor textures, level of detail, and, yet again, barren worlds and the final product looks subpar compared to other comparable games like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. This also has to do with how many Pokemon games the studio has released on the platform thus far, but that still puts them in a bad spot.
5) Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition
The GTA Trilogy includes GTA 3, GTA San Andreas, and GTA Vice City, all remastered for modern platforms in Unreal Engine 4. Too bad Rockstar's latest project saw massive backlash as they somehow desecrated some of the most revered games ever.
The shiny new aesthetic clashes with the old visual foundation of the games, ending up with something that feels half-baked. This is also applicable to poorly implemented elements that have since been alleviated to an extent since, like rain effects and draw distance fog. However, this will still go down as one of the worst remaster jobs in video game history and puts the acclaimed developer into a tight spot.