Monster Hunter: World is a monstrous success for Capcom, selling over 7.5 million copies. Naturally the drumbeat has started for a Monster Hunter: World Switch port, because seemingly everything needs to be ported to the Switch these days.
On the face of it, it would be a natural fit. Monster Hunter: World achieved worldwide prominence via handheld systems like the PSP and the 3DS. It's a great local co-op game to play with your friends.
Capcom has said that it would be a difficult task, prompting former Sony exec Adam Boyes to offer to take on the job. Boyes' studio, Iron Galaxy, was responsible for porting Skyrim to the Switch.
Dear @monsterhunter team at Capcom - we understand that porting the game to Nintendo Switch is challenging (https://t.co/0JrAIQgcft) but this is exactly what @IToTheG does. Give us a shot & we won’t let you down ;)— Adam Boyes (@amboyes) March 3, 2018
If Iron Galaxy were able to pull off the port, it would most likely be a slam dunk from a sales perspective. But the more I think about it, the more I'd rather that Monster Hunter: World just stay on the PS4 and the Xbox One.
I've played a lot of Monster Hunter since it came out back in January. It's a game that's clearly meant to be enjoyed on the enhanced consoles, with the base Xbox One in particular suffering sub-optimal frame rates. Monster Hunter: World is gorgeous, it's epic, and it's the sort of game I like to play in 4K on my television, especially when hunting that blasted Pink Rathian.
Any Switch port would doubtlessly be hit with framerate issues, reduced textures, and other compromises. Outfits like Panic Button (who ported Doom to the hardware) and Iron Galaxy have managed to wring a lot of juice out of the Switch already, but it clearly has limits. It especially suffers in handheld mode, which is theoretically the point of a Monster Hunter: World port.
If Capcom were to put a Monster Hunter game on the Switch, I'd rather they built a version specifically for the platform. Some of my followers on Twitter agree.
I've said it before, but I'd be happy with a Monster Hunter using Generations' engine with the quality of life improvements of World on the Switch.— Cokomon (@Cokomon) March 5, 2018
In my opinion, the worst thing that can happen to the Switch is for it to be swamped by inferior ports. The Switch has a unique niche in the console business. It deserves better.
My fervent hope is that instead of looking backward, major developers will use the Switch as an opportunity to look forward. I want third-parties to put resources into games like Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battles, which was just perfect on the Switch. Indeed, the Switch has a relative dearth of third-parties exclusives at the moment. The Switch is currently dominated by first-party titles, indies, and ports, some of which are very bad.
We, of course, have been guilty of port begging ourselves at times. It's enticing to think of certain games being available in handheld mode (like Persona 5). Developers know this. But the Switch also needs as many original games as possible. More than the PS4 or the Xbox One, the Switch badly needs third-party exclusives to round out its library.
Happily, I expect that will be happening at some point in the near future. The decline of the Vita and the 3DS is necessarily pushing Japanese developers toward the Switch (and the PS4). And now that the Switch has a large install base, it's not quite as much of a risk to develop for the thing. I expect we will see a lot of interesting Switch announcements during E3.
In the meantime, the Switch already has a pretty decent output. Celeste is already one of the best games of the year. Kirby Star Allies looks pretty great. Every new week brings with it a deluge of new indies. I feel like I'm hip deep in great Switch games.
I'm happy to let Monster Hunter: World stay on showcase platforms. Same with Red Dead Redemption 2 and whatever other blockbuster game gets tabbed for a Switch port.
The novelty of being able to play console-quality games at home and on the road has allowed the Switch to carve out a nice niche for itself. It's perfectly capable of co-existing in its own space alongside the PS4 and the Xbox One. And that means occasionally being able to let go of a port.
Looking Ahead to the Rest of the Week
- Final Fantasy XV [March 06]: Final Fantasy XV is finally making its way to PC, and it stands to be the definitive version of the divisive RPG. It's grown a great deal since its initial release, bringing with it DLC episodes, an online mode, and alternate takes on certain infamous sections. If nothing else, it looks gorgeous.
- Warhammer: Vermintide 2 [March 08]: Warhammer's take on Left 4 Dead has gained a sizable cult audience, and the sequel appears to have plenty of momentum going into Thursday's release. We'll be streaming it and reviewing it this week, so stay tuned.
Nadia's Note Block Beat Box: Battle With 02 from Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
So many cute game and cartoon mascots attempt to make our heads spin by blind-siding us with a theme or plot point that might be considered "dark" or "edgy." To date, Kirby's the only one who's managed to pull it off time and time again. Even the games' cutest themes tend to come off delightfully eerie. It's not as if HAL is trying to shock us. It's more like, "Oh, this is just the way things are in Kirby's world. One day you're napping under a tree, the next you're fighting an Old Testament arcangel weeping blood. Then you go back to your nap."
Kirby 64's final fight with 02 (the aforementioned arcangel) is just one instance where Kirby reached straight for 100 on the "Huh?" scale. The fight is one thing: The music accompanying the battle is another. Its lengthy build-up and epic synth feels far more suited for an RPG than for a game that's generally about fighting mean trees. Am I complaining, though? Heck, no. Kirby can do whatever he wants. He's earned it.
Mike's Media Minute
Last night marked the 90th Annual Academy Awards ceremony, with Hollywood turning out to acknowledge its best and brightest. The Shape of Water was a bit of a surprise, taking home Best Picture, while helmer Guillermo del Toro grabbed Best Director. It's not a surprise in that the film wasn't great (it is), merely that I expected the Oscar voters to choose something more traditional, like Darkest Hour or Dunkirk. Kudos to the win there.
Jordan Peele walked away with best Original Screenplay for Get Out, which is amazing for the first time director. Allison Janney got Best Actress in a Supporting role for I, Tonya. And Roger Deakins finally received an Oscar for Best Cinematography after 13 previous nominations in the category; even if Blade Runner 2049 isn't his best work, but the Academy needed to correct an imbalance.
Caty's AltGame Corner
Subterra is a game about finding yourself on a mysterious planet, and using the tools at your disposal to explore its earth underground. And, of course, survive whatever is put on your path. The version released on itch.io just days ago is an alpha, showing glimmers of its promise as its developer Moku continues to iterate, like its newly revamped shop system. It's a game that wields permadeath as its primary weapon, where once the player runs out of oxygen (or gets hurt enough), they are kaput and must start over. You can download Subterra's alpha on itch.io for PC.
This Week's News and Notes
- I finally saw Black Panther over the weekend, and I thought it was generally very good. Michael B. Jordan blew everyone off the screen, which isn't something I often get to say about a Marvel villain. The design work was absolutely fabulous, utilizing Afrofuturism to bring Wakanda to life in a cool and stylish way. It definitely had A Point to make, but it did so in a way that was very entertaining, as expected.
I've seen some people say that it doesn't deviate from the typical Marvel formula, which is fair, I guess. But Marvel has gotten very good at using their structure to explore a variety of themes. Black Panther manages to touch on America's condescending view of third-world nations; the death of fathers in black families; radicalization; and social spending vs. straight-up revolution, all while giving a thoroughly modern spin on the old Martin Luther King vs. Malcolm X debate. To see such themes in a mainstream action film is... well... pretty unprecedented. And it nails the execution. Great movie.
- Speaking of movies, I was sad to see Lady Bird get snubbed at the Oscars. I saw it just the other week, and I was surprised by how nostalgic it made me for 2003 (seriously). It helped that I saw it with a couple friends who grew up in Sacramento, as well as my partner, who went to a Catholic high school. Coming of age movies are a dime a dozen, but I loved the exploration of Lady Bird, who is at once annoyingly entitled and trapped by her family's poor financial situation. Sadly, the postscript for this film is basically, "Lady Bird entered the work force in 2007, just in time for the financial crisis."
- Word hit late last week that MLB 18 The Show is doing away with their online franchise mode. Sony San Diego's explanation was that they are beefing up their infrastructure, "For the online areas of the game, we spent this year focusing on our technology. We knew we had to prioritize the stability and speed of our online infrastructure for MLB The Show 18."
It's a plausible explanation in light of last year's troubles, but it's still deeply unfortunate all the same. Online franchise mode has been on life support for a while now thanks to the rise of Ultimate Team, with smaller games like NHL jettisoning the mode entirely. Now that it's gone, it's difficult to imagine Sony San Diego expending the necessary resources to bring it back.
But they should! Game developers will argue that online franchise doesn't offer the same raw numbers or monetization opportunities as Diamond Dynasty, but it does offer one thing: engagement. Fans who get into online franchise are in it for the long haul. They are disproportionately loyal. That sports developers haven't been able to leverage that deep passion strikes me as a failure of imagination. Sadly, franchise mode in general continues to be deprioritized in favor of just about everything else. This is only the latest example.
- Demon's Souls' servers were officialy shut down last week, and Soulsborne superfan John Learned was there to cover their said final days for us. His piece was a lovely tribute to a game that has had a disproportionate impact on his life. But hark, Demon's Souls isn't dead after all! Demon's Souls fans are already hosting servers of their own. It seems that Demon's Souls will live a little longer after all.
- We've lately been putting together lists of our favorite games for each console. A couple weeks ago, it was the PlayStation 4. This week it's the 15 best games for the Nintendo Switch! I'm pretty happy overall with this list, but I'll admit, I wanted Steamworld Heist more than Steamworld Dig 2. Seriously, if you love tactics games, then Steamworld Heist is a real gem.
- Speaking of tactical gems, how about Into the Breach? I knuckled down last week and finally beat all four maps. Admittedly, it was on easy, but Into the Breach is still a pretty solid challenge on its lowest difficulty level. Now I'm going to put together a custom squad and tackle normal mode. Amusingly, the best squad composition appears to be three artillery units that can free enemies. Pretty cheesy, but that's the way with these kinds of games, isn't it?
- Square Enix is teasing Valkyrie Profile with a new trailer, which you can watch above. Part of me is delighted by the idea that Valkyrie Profile is still alive. Part of me just wants Square Enix to release the original PS1 game on PSN (or PC) and move on. But I can't help but be enticed by the idea of a full remake... if they did it right. But after the unfortunate Secret of Mana remake and last week's Chrono Trigger port disaster, it's getting harder to trust Square Enix to do right by their old games.
- In case you missed it, I have some final thoughts on Far Cry 5 ahead of its release later this month. My main takeaway? The cult stuff is just in there for shock value. The wilderness dominates everything, and the enemies are all from central casting. It's about as tame as tame can be.
- The USgamer Podcast: In the latest episode of The USgamer Podcast, we ask what the next generation of consoles will look like. Can graphics get much better? Will be just keep making incremental upgrades? What about backwards compability? The gang tackles all that and more. Make sure to check out Mike's in-depth feature on the subject as well. Subscribe here!
- Axe of the Blood God: In the wake of Demon's Souls' sad final days, I invited Souls enthusiasts John Learned and David Craddock on the show to pay tribute to the action RPG that started it all. Plus, Nadia and I get our rant on about the troubled Chrono Trigger PC port. Subscribe here!