Switch Re:Port Review #43: Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, The Princess Guide, Marble It Up!
Today’s Switch Re:Port Review looks at some big name ports that finally arrived on Nintendo’s hybrid system. This includes Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen (From Mick F), Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, The Princess Guide, and Marble It Up! I’ve had a ton of fun replaying these games over the last few weeks and in most cases, the Switch ports are excellent. If you’re new to the Switch Re:Port Reviews on the Geek, I (with the help of the fine folk here) look at the Switch ports of games that have been released on other platforms. These reviews aren’t just to talk about the game but to look at how the games run and play on the Switch and how they use the Switch features.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
Originally released on PS3 and Xbox 360 before being ported to Xbox One, PS4, and PC and scored 9/10
It’s almost 7 years since we first played Dragon’s Dogma on Ps3 and Xbox 360, and since then we’ve had the Dark Arisen overhaul and a current-gen re-release to get on with. But such is the popularity of Capcom’s complex and convoluted fantasy RPG that we’re all getting excited all over again for another re-release, this time on Nintendo Switch.
And complex and convoluted it really is, from an obtuse fast travel mechanic to a complicated class system, and its unique approach to party formation. Dragon’s Dogma is ripe with ideas to steal, but such is the nature of its framework that most of these ideas simply wouldn’t work in other games.
That being said, I’m happy to report that returning to Gransys on Switch has been a pleasure. I haven’t played a significant chunk of Dragon’s Dogma for several years, and I’m repeatedly surprised by how well so many of its systems have aged. Yes, a great deal of it is needlessly long-winded, and yes, the engine is as creaky now as it ever was, but it’s a ridiculously enjoyable and knowingly camp adventure all the same.
The story follows your created character in the weeks after a dragon makes its dramatic return to the world, attacks a fishing village, kills your protagonist and eats their heart, an act that hinds them to the beast and restores then to life as the Arisen, a hero fated to save Gransys from an invasion of colossal monsters like Hydrae, Manticores and Griffons.
Your hero is also able to summon and command Pawns, otherworldly beings that exist like living puppets created to fight and die for you. You’ll create one to be your constant companion and recruit two others (created by other players) from the Rift. These Pawns will then ferry knowledge between game worlds, retaining what they learn alongside you to take home to their master, and vice versa. More advanced Pawns will know of quests you are yet to complete and lead the way or offer hints, or will have experience fighting monsters.
It’s a cool, unique system that works very well alongside the exceptional combat and casting systems. You initially select a vocation from the standard fighter/rogue/thief triumvirate, but by learning and assigning skills will unlock the opportunity to specialise later, changing vocation to a more focused yet ultimately diverse class. The real-time combat is a fast-paced and colourful mix of melee and magic, and unlike in a lot of RPGS I usually don’t mind running into enemies. Unless I’m on an escort mission, of course, because the companion in need usually has all the self-preservation instinct of a blind milking cow. Escort missions aside, the only real complaint is that you can’t abandon quests and the selection system is somewhat unwieldy.
Opening impressions, though, are very positive, and the visuals look clean and crisp on the Switch’s small screen. Blown up on a full-sized TV, the details are a little muted, but it runs very well, with an even larger scale battles against multiple enemies and the game’s signature monsters rolling along smoothly.
There’s an awful lot to get your head around in Dragon’s Dogma, and it would have been nice to see the touchscreen utilised a little more to make navigating the menus and using items more intuitive. As it is, you can bring up the world map with a tap of the screen but nothing else, which is still handy given how often you’ll be forced to consult it. I’m also a little bit put off that you can’t have multiple characters on a single account, meaning you’ll miss out on the other classes if you don’t create a bunch of other accounts.
As a returning fan on my third or fourth run through, I’m finding the Switch version to have almost a new lease of life. Playing in handheld mode and dipping in and out, using the quicksave to preserve my progress between fights, has allowed me to get through the story at a fair old clip (although the endgame switch to Bitterblack Isle for the Dark Arisen expansion is a huge difficulty hike) and the game’s endearing mix of Eastern and Western RPG sensibilities make it feel oddly at home on the Switch.
I’d even go so far as to say that it feels like the definitive version. It doesn’t add anything to the base game besides the expansions and DLC elements that were already there on other consoles, but it’s still worth picking up if you’ve never hunted a Cockatrice in Gransys before.
Marble It Up!
Having never really played much of platformers that involved rolling a marble or a ball in the past, Marble It Up was quite a surprise in many ways. It is available right now on both Switch and PC platforms packing loads of great levels and a ton of customisation. While it had a few issues when it launched, Marble It Up is great in its current state on Switch.
Marble It Up has great level design, excellent physics and momentum based movement, and it also looks and runs very nicely on the Switch. The music is pretty nice as well. The Switch version is great for a few reasons. It runs great in both docked and handheld modes during the actual levels, has pretty good HD Rumble, and lets you use the touchscreen for the UI and menus. The only downside with performance is the menus have a bit of lag when selecting levels right now.
Marble It Up is something I never really knew I wanted until I played it. It takes such a simple concept and executes it brilliantly. If you’ve never played the marble rolling platformers of the past, this is a great place to jump in. The only downside right now is that you can probably finish this in a few hours. I hope more levels are added in the future.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
Originally released on PS3 and PS Vita and then ported to PS4 and PC platforms and scored 8/10
When it originally was remastered for PS3 and PS Vita, I got my first taste of Final Fantasy X and it has gone on to become one of my favourite games ever since then. I’ve obviously been replaying (well not all the way) it with each new release. I didn’t think it would be ported to other consoles but now that I’ve played it again on both Switch and Xbox One, it is great to see the remaster get another chance after seeing success on PlayStation platforms before.
In terms of content included, this is based on the PS4 release which offers the original and arranged soundtrack options. The Switch version features all the content but the physical version includes a single use download code for X-2 just like the PS Vita release. The problem with the implementation here is that unlike the PS Vita version that let you play X-2 on its own, you need to have them both installed here and need the card for X inserted to be able to play X-2. If you buy it digitally, you’re looking at a 26.4 GB install size overall.
If you’ve never played these games before, they are both well worth playing as fans of Final Fantasy. X-2 has its own problems but the combat system is great and the music doesn’t get old. Final Fantasy X with all the enhancements is one of the best Final Fantasy games ever. The Switch version looks great in both modes. It has a few textures that look lower quality than the other home consoles but it is still a big upgrade over the PS Vita release. I did notice a few bugs with how hair was rendered.
When it comes to Switch specific features, the games support video recording and have touch support but it is pretty limited. If you’ve played this on the PS Vita, the touch support should be familiar to you because it lets you swipe to quick heal using items or skills. If you did play this on PS Vita before, the Switch version offers a bit more because it is based on the PS4 release so it gives you the soundtrack options and looks a lot better in handheld which is expected.
It is disappointing seeing Square Enix not add the cheats they added in the PC version here as they did with Final Fantasy IX and VII. Being able to play this at home or on the go makes it the best version of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster for me but it is sad that Square Enix couldn’t go the extra mile and add the cheats in for fans who have already played this before and just want to breeze through the story.
The Switch version is definitely the best way to experience the game right now but it has a few issues that affect the release overall more than the port which is great. The price is way too high for such a late port especially when the physical edition doesn’t even include the whole package and requires a hefty download. If you want to play this on the big screen only, I’d recommend the PS4 or Xbox One version but being able to take two massive JRPGs on the go and be able to play at home when you need to makes the Switch version the best way to experience these stories. The soundtrack for Final Fantasy X is timeless as well.
The Princess Guide
Simultaneously released on PS4 and Nintendo Switch
If you’ve read any of my earlier reviews of NIS developed titles, you know how much I enjoy a lot of their smaller projects. The Princess Guide released on Japan on PS4, PS Vita, and Nintendo Switch and it has been localised on PS4 and Switch leaving the Vita version in Japan as is the case with most publishers these days.
As the name suggests you play as a “guide” for princesses in a new fantasy world. The biggest problem when it comes to the actual game is the lack of proper explanations for many in game mechanics. There are individual stories for the princesses but this game feels like a mix of ideas that don’t really work well together. The combat is fun albeit repetitive and the simulation aspects are decent.
Visually, the game looks very good both docked and in handheld modes. The UI and portraits are very colourful and I have no real complaints. I like the aesthetic overall. The problem is with performance which is inconsistent in both modes. The framerate feels variable and there is a constant feeling of stutter which is not fun. As of now there has been no patch to address it. Sadly there is no touchscreen support but video recording is supported.
Overall, The Princess Guide is definitely one of the weaker NIS developed releases I’ve played. If the port was great things would have been a bit better but as it stands, the Switch version of The Princess Guide is good but not an essential from any angle right now. If you adored Penny Punching Princess and want something similar with some simulation aspects, you will enjoy this a lot but for everyone else, there are better NIS games to play on both PS4 and Switch.