With the re-release of “Apex Legends” Tuesday, Nintendo Switch owners are sure to enjoy one thing: high quality ports.
A port is when a game that was originally made for one operating system/console is reworked so it can be played on another operating system/console. There is no shortage of games being rereleased on the portable console, from the classics to the obscure.
The Spectrum compiled a list of 25 Nintendo Switch ports that are sure to delight:
Classics — The baseline switch ports
Original Release: PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on Nov. 11, 2011
Switch Release: Nov. 17, 2017
Action role-playing games were changed forever with the advent of “Skyrim.” The dragon-calling adventure game includes immersive environments, quests, stories, conversations, game mechanics and much more.
The Switch release introduces a new outfit, motion controls for immersive gameplay and Amiibo support. The graphics were also optimized for on-the-go adventures, and players can enjoy 1080p resolution when the Switch is docked. Considering the portability factor alone, this port is a true Switch gem.
Original Release: MS-DOS on Dec. 10, 1993
Switch Release: Nov. 10, 2017
The original release of this early 3D first-person shooter (FPS) pioneered the FPS genre with improved 3D graphics, multiplayer gaming and mods. An unnamed space marine, later called the Doomguy, fights against hordes of demons and undead humans to try to reach the end of levels.
Since its release, “Doom” has been one of the most ported games, which led to the meme that “Doom” can run on anything, including a calculator. This Switch port continues that tradition with optimized gameplay, multiplayer support and the timeless experience that both old and new players can enjoy.
Original Release: IOS and Android on May 30, 2013
Switch Release: April 09, 2019
In 2001, Capcom released the visual novel adventure game “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney” for the Game Boy Advance, and its success led to the creation of numerous sequels and the increased popularity of the visual novel genre.
The game follows rookie defense attorney Phoenix Wright as he attempts to defend his clients and solve mysteries. While following the in-depth storyline, players must find contradictions in testimonies during the courtroom segments and find evidence during investigation segments to use in the trials.
Shortly after the first game, two more games were released, “Justice for All” and “Trials and Tribulations,” completing the first arc of this ongoing series.
Years later, these three games were ported together as a remastered trilogy on the IOS and Android app stores. Although the trilogy has been ported multiple times before, the Switch version has updated graphics and gameplay, making it the best port of this beloved series to date.
Original Release: PC on Sept. 4, 2013
Switch Release: Feb. 27, 2018
This critically acclaimed spine-chilling horror game is centered around a journalist uncovering the secrets behind diabolical human experiments through the view of his battery-powered camcorder.
Like most Switch ports, “Outlast” is no exception to the plethora of games that provide an exhilarating experience while running on a fraction of the processing power other consoles boast. Complete with a sequel and a third edition on the way, now is an excellent time to play “Outlast” for every jumpscare enthusiast and curious player alike.
Original Release: PS3 and Xbox 360 on Jan. 5, 2010
Switch Release: Feb. 16, 2018
“Bayonetta 3” is currently in development for the Switch, so now is the perfect time to try out the game that started this intense and sexy series, conveniently available in Switch port fashion. This action-filled hack-and-slash game follows a witch named Bayonetta as she tries to regain her lost memories while fighting enemies using multiple firearms, magic and summoned demons. The combat is similar to the “Devil May Cry” series, but it has its own charm that makes it stand out.
The Switch version is based on the Wii U port of the game, which means it has all the additions of the Wii U port without any of the drawbacks. The higher resolution, non-existent load times and higher framerate make this the best version of the original game.
Online — The most engaging and well-developed multiplayer ports
Original Release: PC on Nov. 18, 2011
Switch Release: June 20, 2018
Minecraft is a Gen Z sandbox classic, having been a staple of most of our childhoods. Countless updates and new additions to the game have kept veteran players coming back for more, while the same thrill of creating a new world, block by block, persists. TheSwitch edition lets crafters play together easily via split-screen multiplayer and online.
Nintendo’s $20/year fee is one-third the cost of most major online memberships like Xbox Live, making this version of “Minecraft” the most economical console port for online play.
Additionally, each copy of the game comes loaded with the “Super Mario Mashup Pack.” For this version of “Minecraft,” simplicity and convenience add new dimensions to the game that builders can explore.
Original Release: Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3 on Feb. 6, 2014
Switch Release: April 24, 2017
The cerebral rush of playing fast-paced “Tetris” hasn’t diminished since the first version. In this iteration, players strategically match pairs of colorful blobs, called puyos, that continuously fall from the top of the screen. The 24 characters featured in the game come from the “Puyo Puyo” tile-matching universe and each has unique catchphrases and personalities. There is even a story mode to help users improve their color-matching chops. Four players can face each other locally or online; the game also includes five modes, each with slightly different rules and mechanics. And if users play through the first one, they can also explore all the new modes in this port’s sequel.
Original Release: Microsoft Windows on May 16, 2011
Switch Release: June 27, 2019
While there have been many sandbox games released over the years, none of them have been as challenging or unique as “Terraria.” This 2D action-adventure sandbox game places the player in a procedurally generated world reminiscent of the 16-bit SNES era. In this world, the player can explore the varied biomes, mine to the underworld, build houses, meet interesting NPCs, craft items and fight hostile mobs. But, unlike in “Minecraft” where the player can choose whether or not to try to beat it, “Terraria” pushes the player to progress to the end by spawning bosses and making certain “evil” biomes slowly spread across the entire world. Eventually, the player will have to face a series of difficult boss battles in order to purify the world before corruption destroys it all.
The Switch port of this game offers many of the same features of the original game, along with multiplayer support for up to eight players.
Original Release: Nintendo 3DS on Jan. 26, 2012
Switch Release: Nov. 28, 2017
Capcom’s biggest franchise and survival horror staple, “Resident Evil,” has had some interesting side games that have not received the same attention as the main entries, including “Resident Evil Revelations.” The game takes place between “Resident Evil 4” and “Resident Evil 5” and follows beloved characters Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield along with their partners Parker Luciani and Jessica Sherawat, as they try to stop a bioterrorist organization from releasing the T-Abyss virus. In both single player and multiplayer, players fight zombies and solve puzzles while exploring an abandoned cruise ship and ruined city. When this game was released on the Nintendo 3DS, it was praised for its graphics, sound design and its claustrophobic horror setting.
Along with the updated graphics, the Switch port offers customizable motion controls for aiming, using and reloading weapons, which makes the port more accessible compared to the original.
Mario - Traversing across all Nintendo platforms, these are the best Mario ports.
Original Release: Wii U on Nov. 3, 2011
Switch Release: Feb. 12, 2021
Another installment in the cycle of creating more innovative and boundary-pushing “Mario” titles has finally come to the Switch, with revisions. The 3D platformer is similar to “New Super Mario Bros. U”: It takes players through interactive levels, boss fights and this time, a different story mode. Equipped with a DLC, the new “3D Land” has aesthetic changes, new animations and most importantly: greater multiplayer capabilities. This is something that was a disappointment in the original release; players will now have the ability to play with up to four friends locally or online. With Amiibo support that unlocks a new powerup, new playable toad characters and much more to explore within “Bowser’s Fury,” this recently released port is a great option for anyone seeking a more challenging 3D adventure or those looking to expand their “Mario” experience into the 3D realm.
Original Release: Wii U on May 29, 2014
Switch Release: April 28, 2017
The Wii U was often stereotyped as a do-nothing console with little to no compelling games available. While that may be true, “Mario Kart 8” is one of the few treasures that remain. In this version, racers can pick from a myriad of courses, all of which include maps from other “Mario Kart” games. Dubbed the “deluxe” edition when ported to the Switch, this “Mario Kart” has six new characters, retro powerups like the stealing Boo and leaf jump, an extra inventory slot and a new drifting boost. Two new game mechanics are also included to assist novice players: auto acceleration and smart steering. Multiplayer is easy and accessible: up to 12 people can play in an online lobby, four people can play in local split screen multiplayer and eight consoles can connect for local play. Thanks to its new mechanics and online abilities, “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” has become one of the Switch’s most beloved multiplayer “Mario” games.
Original Release: Wii U on Nov. 18, 2012
Switch Release: Jan. 11, 2019
This newly revised Mario platformer takes players through the same coin-laden worlds — the layer-cake desert comes to mind — in search of the princess. The game is a port of “New Super Mario Bros. U,” another successful “Mario” game from the previous console. While the games are pretty similar, this edition allows players to play as Toadette, the only character capable of ascertaining the Super Crown power up, which transforms her into Peachette. Toadette has new abilities that allow her to perform an aerial drift, too. This version’s addition of HD rumble and new characters helps add variety to the same enjoyable experience on the Wii U. Compatible with four-player local co-op, this Switch port will keep players engaged all the way to the flagpole.
Switch Release: Sept. 18, 2020
In this trifecta, three games — “Super Mario 64” (June 23, 1996), “Super Mario Sunshine” (July 19, 2002), and “Super Mario Galaxy” (November 1, 2007) — merge into one mega “Mario” port. Each game comes along with its corresponding soundtrack, creating the ultimate nostalgic bundle. The package creates an opportunity for fans old and new to discover or replay some of the best-received Nintendo titles of the last 20 or more years. This port is an absolute must for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of the “Mario” universe or to hone their galaxy-traveling craft.
Original Release: Wii U on Nov. 13, 2014
Switch Release: July 13, 2018
Reveal the lost treasures from the Wii U’s infamous Gamepad puzzle game, “Captain Toad Treasure Tracker.” In this three-dimensional platformer, players have to rescue Toadette and collect Power Stars and Super Gems along the way. Now with two-player local multiplayer on the Switch, the game also has a DLC containing 18 extra levels: A story explaining more behind the Super Crown seen in other “Mario” games. With this port, players can enjoy taking their bite-size missions wherever they go.
Artsy/Indie — Whether they are aesthetically pleasing or have an impactful storyline, these ports aim to impress.
Original Release: Microsoft Windows and macOS on Sept. 17, 2020
Switch Release: Sept. 17, 2020
The Switch port for the roguelike action RPG “Hades” was released at the same time the original game was completed. Because the developer, Supergiant Games, wanted to get player feedback while creating the game, the game was released in Early Access in December 2018 for PC.
This award-winning game follows Zagreus, the son of Hades, as he tries to escape the underworld. During his escape attempts, he goes through a random series of rooms, fights enemies and obtains gifts from the other Olympic gods. Similar to other roguelikes, Zagreus will die often, but unlike other roguelikes, this is not frustrating because the player gets to keep certain items that upgrade their skills and make other helpful additions so Zagreus can make it farther during the next run. And since the player can talk with the other characters and give them gifts, each death progresses the story.
While the limitations of the Switch console make it so the game cannot achieve the same graphic and framerate performance as its PC counterpart, the portable nature of the console makes it easy to grind multiple runs without being stuck at the computer.
Original Release: Microsoft Windows and macOS on Jan. 25, 2018
Switch Release: Jan. 25, 2018
The award-winning platforming game, “Celeste,” is another example of a Switch port that came out at the same time as the original finished game. First released in 2016 as a PICO-8 game for a game jam, the game follows Madeline as she climbs Mount Celeste, explores secret areas, meets a couple of characters and faces her inner demons. The final round has eight chapters and an additional DLC chapter, “Farewell,” which was released on Sept. 9, 2019.
Similar to the “Hades” port, the graphics and framerate are relatively advanced, but the main draw is the portable gameplay the console provides.
Original Release: Microsoft Windows and Xbox One on March 2016
Switch Release: Sept. 27, 2019
When “Ori and the Blind Forest” was originally released on March 11, 2015, the 2D platform-adventure Metroidvania game immediately received praise for its art, designs, gameplay, music and story. This artsy indie game follows Ori, a guardian forest spirit, as they explore the forest, collect upgrades and find items to save the dying forest. The Definitive Edition is an expansion of the original game.
Since this version has all the added content as well as all the upgrades made over the years, the Switch port is currently the best version of this beautiful experience.
Original Release: PS3 on Oct. 2012
Switch Release: Aug. 9, 2018
When the original “Okami” was released on the PS2 on April 20, 2006, it was one of the last games to be released on the console before the introduction of the PS3.
As a result, the action adventure game did not sell well despite receiving good reviews, but recent “Okami HD” ports have led more players to acknowledge and appreciate this masterpiece. The game follows the Shinto sun goddess, Amaterasu, as she saves the world from darkness while taking the form of the white wolf named Shiranui. With gameplay similar to the “Legend of Zelda” series, “Okami” is known for its Sumi-e-inspired cel-shaded graphics and the gameplay mechanic where the player can pause the game and use the Celestial Brush to solve puzzles.
While the HD version has been ported to several different consoles, the Switch port is the first time the game can be played on the move with touch screen controls, which is the best way to use the Celestial Brush.
Original Release: Microsoft Windows on Feb. 24, 2017
Switch Release: June 12, 2018
Although there is no shortage of artsy 2D action adventure Metroidvania games, “Hollow Knight” stands out with its haunting atmosphere and attractive character designs. In this game, the player controls a nameless knight as they travel through the ancient kingdom Hallownest, a labyrinth filled with various insects and hidden mysteries.
The Switch port made some improvements to the gameplay, graphics and overall experience, which has since been applied to other ports of the game.
Honorable Mentions — What was never expected to be ported on the switch; ports that deserve more attention.
Original Release: Famicom (NES) in 1988
Switch Release: May 14, 2021
Before Yoshio Sakamoto worked on the classic series “Metroid,” he created the adventure game duology “Famicom Detective Club” for the Famicom console, which is the Japanese name for the NES. The first entry in the series, “Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir,” follows an amnesiac detective as he tries to remember his past while also solving a murder mystery surrounding a wealthy family living in the Japanese countryside. “Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind,” the second entry in the series, focuses on a high school and is a prequel to the first game. Both games were never released outside of Japan or in English, until now.
While the story is the same, the Switch versions have updated graphics, music and sound effects, but players can choose to have the original 8-bit soundtrack. If one of the games is bought on the Nintendo eShop, the second game is $10 off.
Original Release: PlayStation 3 on Nov. 17, 2011
Switch Release: Sept. 20, 2019
While there have been many RPG games over the years, “Ni No Kuni” is unique because all of the art, storyboarding and animation are created by the famous Japanese anime studio: Studio Ghibli. “Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch,” the remastered PS3 version of the Nintendo DS game “Ni no Kuni: Dominion of the Dark Djinn,” was one of the best-selling games on the PS3. The game follows Oliver as he travels to another world filled with magic, new friends and ferocious enemies in order to save his mother.
The Switch port brings all the beauty of the PS3 remaster to the portable console so players can experience the story wherever they go.
Original Release: PC on Feb. 28, 2019
Switch Release: Feb. 24, 2020
There is no shortage of life simulators out there, but “No Time To Relax” is a fresh take on an old concept. The game requires that a players’ stats are balanced: health, finances, education and happiness. Players are tasked with finding enough time in a day to eat, work, exercise, go to school and obviously: relax. Random cards are also dealt each round with sometimes unsavory results to switch things up. In order to win, players must strategically decide which activities are worth their time: Do they go to school so they will be qualified for a higher position, or go to work and save up for a much-needed car? From here, players can personalize their residences, invest in stocks and even own pets. This quirky life simulator is a cheap, satisfying and whimsical port worth owning for multiplayer sessions.
Original and Switch Release: March 15, 2018
Clocking in at less than a gigabyte, this single-player Switch port requires as much laser focus as it does frustration. The addicting puzzler entails changing each color change at the perfect time, interacting with moving platforms and destroying obstructive blocks. A full 50 levels are included and the challenging motion controls makes each level an intense challenge.
Original Release: PlayStation 2 on March 18, 2004
Switch Release: Dec. 7, 2018
An inane yet beautiful port for the Switch often gets overlooked: “Katamari Damacy REROLL.” This third-person puzzle-action game tests the player’s ability to pick up random objects using their celestial sticky ball, a Katamari. After collecting small objects like phones, fish and shrubs, their ball enlarges so they can collect larger items like road signs and even flailing passersby. Why? To fill the sky with big stars and satisfy their father, the King of All Cosmos, of course. Looking for a wacky port with even more outlandish cutscenes? “Katamari Damacy REROLL” is that game.
Anastasia Wilds is the senior arts editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @AnastasiaWilds
Jack Porcari is the assistant features editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Anastasia Wilds is the senior arts editor. She has been writing for newspapers since her junior year of high school, and she has appreciated all forms of art for even longer. When she’s not writing, she is either reading, listening to music, hanging out with her friends on discord or streaming on Twitch.
Jack Porcari is the assistant features editor at The Spectrum. He is a political science major with a minor in law and journalism. Aside from writing and editing, he enjoys playing piano, flow arts, reptiles and activism.