Stop Blaming The Switch For Pokemon Running Terribly
I will be the first to criticize the Switch’s hardware, which has been running on fumes for a couple of years now. It’s been all but confirmed that we were meant to have an upgraded version of the console before the pandemic obliterated the supply chain, and it’s clear that the performance of new games is suffering on the aging Switch. New releases like Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Bayonetta 3, and even Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope are all clearly being held back by the processing power of the Switch, which routinely causes framerate dips, pop-ins, and other performance issues in both handheld and docked mode. We’ve known as far back as 2019’s Link’s Awakening that the Switch is throttling games, and that developers have had to work around its limitations for longer than anyone anticipated.
But that doesn’t explain why Pokemon Scarlet & Violet look like that. The Switch hardware cannot account for Pokemon’s bland environments, dated assets, and frankly, unacceptable performance issues. Pokemon Scarlet & Violet looks like that because Game Freak does not spend the time or effort that it should to make a polished, high quality product. The biggest IP in the world put out a subpar product by all modern standards, and is charging $60 for it. It’s as simple as that.
Stop blaming the Switch for the way Pokemon is. It’s such an easy argument to defeat. If you played Breath of the Wild five years ago, or The Witcher 3 three years ago, or Xenoblade Chronicles 3 this year, you know that open world games can run on the Switch, and they can be beautiful and, more importantly, run well. Don’t give Game Freak a pass when all these other studios with less money (not to mention less experience) can do great things.
The Switch hardware has a lot of limiting factors, there’s no doubt about it, but when you develop an exclusive title for the Switch, you have to work around those limitations. If you know that draw distance is going to be an issue, then don’t create massive, empty sightlines that can’t be rendered, tank performance, and make everything at a distance look like a blurry brown smudge. Don’t use models and textures that can’t be rendered in real time so that everything is constantly popping onto the screen. You have to design a game that works within the budget of the hardware you’re designing for. The developers at Game Freak know a lot more about making games than I do. Why did they make a game that everyone unanimously agrees has major, experience-impacting performance issues?
I think it has a lot to do with the fans who run interference by blaming the Switch for Scarlet & Violet’s problem. Those who shell out $60 for a game that doesn’t meet basic quality standards in 2022 and go out of their way to tell others that none of it bothers them. The games we love don’t get better by denying there’s anything wrong with them. Clearly, it's the opposite. This is the worst performing Pokemon game ever with one of the lowest Metacritic scores. You can love it and still acknowledge it has serious flaws – it’s not one or the other. Pokemon games can be better than this, they should be better than this, but they never will be if we can’t admit there’s something wrong here.
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