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5 Nintendo Switch exclusive games with disappointing performance

These Nintendo Switch games might be great but stumble thanks to varying levels of performance problems (Images via Rising Star Games/Nintendo/Forever Entertainment)
These Nintendo Switch games might be great but stumble thanks to varying levels of performance problems (Images via Rising Star Games/Nintendo/Forever Entertainment)

The Nintendo Switch is a solid piece of tech despite being somewhat dated at this point, especially against current consoles. The handheld has shown itself to punch above its weight with respectable ports for high-end games. Even Nintendo's exclusives have delivered some visually stunning games on the platform.

However, there are always exceptions. Whether it be games brute-forcing beyond the system's Achilles Heels or just poorly designed, the Switch has a handful of exclusive games that fail to live up to Nintendo's standards of performance.


These Nintendo Switch exclusives fall short of the mark

5) Shin Megami Tensei V

This one might come as a surprise to some, but taking a look at the game's technical makeup makes things clear. ATLUS' latest entry in the mainline Shin Megami Tensei series of occult-inspired JRPGs is a Nintendo Switch exclusive.

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For some odd reason, the team decided to shift to Unreal Engine 4 for the game on handheld instead of the in-house tech that they used for games like Persona 5 Royal and Catherine: Full Body. While scalable on Nintendo Switch, Epic's popular engine has never found sound footing.

Many UE4 games end up on the sub-720p side of things with somewhat wonky performance at times. Make no mistake, though, Shin Megami Tensei 5 (or SMT5) is an esthetically great-looking game and utilizes many of the engine's best rendering features to deliver an image that's a step above anything the developer has made so far.

Excellent lighting, denser environments, detailed character models, high-quality depth of field, etc. So it's a shame that there are flaws like the noticeable pop-in and lower bounds of portable mode resolution. This is understandable given the usage of a high-end engine, but the game cannot hold a solid 30 FPS.

It seems to hang around 28-29 FPS. While they look amazing, the cutscenes can tank performance to the lower 20s. Perhaps a patch could make it a smoother experience?


4) Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

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The first two Ultimate Alliance games were underrated gems with a small but dedicated cult following. So understandably, many fans were disappointed that the third entry would be funded exclusively by Nintendo.

Developed by Koei Tecmo's Team Ninja, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order brings the iconic dungeon-crawling beat-em-up action to a new era. The Infinity Stones are under threat from Thanos and the Black Order, so our superheroes must team up to take them down. Players control various popular characters like Iron Man, Deadpool, Spiderman, and Star-Lord.

While the combat is flashy and fun, particularly its appealing comic-inspired esthetic, the game has some technical issues with Nintendo's handheld. The dynamic resolution can vary wildly, going from 1080p to as low as 720p.

The same is true for the handheld, with the lowest value at 540p. The fact that the game still cannot maintain a locked 30 FPS and drops frames due to heavy alpha effects is disappointing.


3) House of the Dead Remake

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The much-anticipated remake of the beloved 90s classic light gun survival horror took many by surprise not just because of a brand new entry coming to Nintendo Switch but also from the disappointing performance.

House of the Dead Remake from MegaPixel aims to recreate the iconic SEGA original by bringing it to the Unity engine. It is a faithful 1:1 recreation with brand new visuals and modes engulfed in the same campy writing and voice acting - but it's not all fun and gore.

Whether it's the Quality mode or Performance mode, the game looks ugly - like an early PS3-era game. Sure, there are some neat effects on display with dynamic lighting, modern redesigns of the blocky zombies, and denser environments. However, they all fall short of other visually superior games on Nintendo Switch. The real freak show here is the performance, though.

The game targets 60 FPS but cannot maintain it consistently - not even in Performance mode, where elements like bloom, lighting, ambient occlusion, and so on either take a hit or are cut.

The bottom line is this: how does the game not hit 60 consistently in-game with a linear, scripted design? This is a significant drawback to a fast-paced arcade experience where a smooth frame rate is needed for quick reflexes.


2) Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

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The original Hyrule Warriors was a surprise entry on the Wii U in 2014. The sequel released for Nintendo Switch in 2020 does a 180 and decides to follow in the footsteps of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (or BOTW). Acting as a prequel to the events that led to BOTW, Link and the Champions must stop Calamity Ganon from gaining power.

The gameplay is again inspired by Koei Tecmo's Warriors hack & slash titles. Players take on hordes of enemies simultaneously. It is a power fantasy. The visuals borrow from Nintendo's acclaimed 2017 open-world title, and so do mechanics like the flurry rush, stasis, etc.

Players can also control various characters, including the Champions, Guardians, and even the Divine Beasts. The latter are larger-than-life battles occurring on a grand scale with giant mech-sized machines mowing down hordes of enemies. Unfortunately, it seems too much for the Switch as the frame rate drops drastically to 10-15 FPS range during these heated moments.

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From a scope and scale perspective, it might just be the most ambitious Warriors game yet. The resolution can also drop pretty low, especially in handheld mode, to stabilize the frame rate. Overall, it just seems like they bit off more than they could chew. It's peculiar how Nintendo greenlit this for release despite performance issues.

On a related note, BOTW's sequel is set for release next year.


1) Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise

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Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise acts as a prequel and sequel to the 2010s cult-classic third-person survival horror Deadly Premonition. This 2020 Unity-engine entry puts players back in the shoes of Francis York Morgan. This time, he must investigate murders in the fictional town of Le Carre, Louisiana, while also contending with supernatural occurrences.

It borrows elements like open-world exploration, combat, and investigation sequences from the original. It then mixes them with director Swery's unique penchant for whacky storytelling and writing inspired by American media like Twin Peaks and True Detective.

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The result is, just like the prequel, a fascinating experience bogged down by insanely bad technical issues. The open-world frame rate drops to the tens, thanks to memory leaks, dated visuals marred further by a dead map, stuttering due to shader compilation issues and minute-long loading times - the list goes on.

While Nintendo Switch's exclusive games like Luigi's Mansion 3 can be native 1080p at a locked 30 FPS and feature visuals comparable to a Pixar movie, there are zero excuses for this. The developers had no clue what they were doing, and the game should not have been released in such a nightmarish state.

There might be an appealing, quirky narrative hidden under it, but a mess of this caliber doesn't seem worth tolerating the headache-inducing performance. It's even worse than ARK: Survival Evolved. In a nutshell, this game is anything but a blessing in disguise.

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Edited by Yasho Amonkar
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