Before the market was filled with epic AAA third-person RPGs, gamers invested their time steeped in the adventure and strategy of Computer Role-Playing Games (CRPGs). Much like Dungeons & Dragons sessions on steroids, CRPGs are a relic from the late 90s and early 00s. They were typically built in the Infinity Engine, setting fantastic worlds, memorable characters, and incredible lore in an isometric design.
These games were made for a mouse and keyboard set-up, but with the advent of Nintendo’s latest and greatest portable gaming offering, there may be a new way to play these classics. There’s already a number of these Nintendo Switch CRPGs – a steady collection that might grow in the future.
The classics that are now available include Baldur’s Gate, Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, Pillars of Eternity, and Wasteland 2 – enhanced releases that received a favorable response. Modern CRPGs like Divinity: Original Sin II are enjoying new players with the portable crowd. Cult-favorite Disco Elysium is expecting a Summer 2021 release on the console. There are high hopes that more similar titles will find their comeback this way.
Of course, porting games to the Switch has its downsides – a decrease in graphic quality and framerate issues high on the list of potential deal-breakers. However, there are some aspects to a Switch incarnation that will convince veterans and newcomers of the genre to pick up copies on their hybrid console. The Switch will not just serve as a museum for enhanced versions of older games but a platform for fresh takes on the genre as well. Here are some of the benefits that I believe make the Switch a great home for an extensive library of classic and modern CRPGs.
The Switch is a Reading Device
Hear me out: the Kindle is to books as the Nintendo Switch is to games. Both definitely don’t provide the same feeling – paper pages or WASD keys on your fingertips are a visceral experience that is unfortunately lost. Still, being able to read your games in handheld mode lead to a unique but suitable literary experience.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes of Switch ports is to forget how small text can be on the screen consoles. The biggest offenders of this are visual novels. Of course, CRPGs being text-heavy games, require some care and attention. As long as UI is optimized for the handheld Switch screen, you’re free to kick back and play your adventure – flopped on the couch or lying down in bed in handheld mode!
I’ve found that the Switch format has allowed me to follow the story and narrative of the game to a more careful degree. Those who love to read books might appreciate this feature while going through the strategy and gameplay aspects of the experience.
The Switch is a Breaktime Device
The portability of the Switch is reason enough to get one. Daily commutes and lengthy flights have become more bearable with a rechargeable game console at the ready. There isn’t a lot of drama involved in turning on and tuning in to a great Switch game. It’s so easy to pull out a game session anytime and anywhere.
Even in today’s pandemic-altered world, you can stretch your legs away from your home office table, press a button, and you can immediately get immersed into a game. I’ve started to associate using my computer with endless work emails and spreadsheets. Powering off this screen is a relief – turning on the Switch is respite.
The Switch is an Accessible Device
Killer apps like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Animal Crossing: New Horizons have brought a new wave of gamers into the fray. The Switch has a way of roping beginners into the world of video games. This has always been true of Nintendo’s offerings (see the DS and the Wii), but now we’re seeing even more old titles get a new lease on life thanks to the Switch. This is a quality of the console that should be celebrated.
Today’s video games have very complex stories that work very well with the interactive medium. The sprawling worlds of Greek mythology and Tolkien lore have been reincarnated time and time again into video game worlds, each title offering a new narrative spin on these tales. Original game I.P.s in the genre have fantastic writing and narratives, with deep and personal storylines that touch individual players. As someone who is into literature, the action-adventure and the CRPG genre has always appealed to me, and I can think of more people who would love video games if they give it a chance.
Players have a new way of sinking hundreds of hours on sprawling role-playing adventures, seeking out pieces of lore, and doing every personal quest in their party. They will have the time of their life listening to their companion’s banter as they travel through the lands that they are trying to save. The fact that the post-COVID world has blurred the line of business and pleasure on our computer screens makes game binging on the Switch that much more appealing.
While the Infinity Engine games have made their debut on the console already, there’s a whole slew of classic and modern CRPGs that are yet to make their way to the Switch. Some of the games in the wishlist include these titles:
Have you played a Nintendo Switch CRPG? Did you love or hate the experience? Let us know in the comments!