Cuphead. God Eater 3. Vampyr and Call of Cthulhu. Final Fantasy XII. Assassin’s Creed III. Several Resident Evil games. There are so many games being ported to Switch, it can be hard to keep track. In the two short years the console has been on the market, Nintendo and third parties have already built an impressive library of new games and ports alike and, over time, the announcements have only gotten wilder. Cuphead is a former Xbox One indie exclusive published by Microsoft. Final Fantasy XII joins the growing list of Final Fantasy titles that are appearing on a Nintendo console for the first time. It’s easy to wonder what’s next, and for how long the Switch can keep this momentum going, but I think the path is clear – companies will continue to reach higher as long as the Switch remains popular and consumers keep buying the software.
This necessitates a need for bigger announcements to keep people interested. Not just bigger in terms of the size of a game, but bigger in terms of audience expectation. For the many people who wanted Cuphead on Switch but never thought it would happen, it must feel like anything is possible now. For my money, it’s still unbelievable that Dark Souls, Diablo III, and Civilization VI run on the system at all, so I’ve taken the liberty of putting together a small list of ports that could outdo those achievements. These will all be long shots for one reason or another, but I’d love to see them all hit the console anyway.
I’ve arranged this list based on which ports are most to least likely, and some entries are more about the game they could become on Switch, instead of the game they are now, so take that with as many grains of salt as you’d like. That said, I’d be happy if even one of these ideas came to pass – and if all five managed to happen somehow? I’d be ready to call the Switch the best console of all time right then and there.
Yoko Taro’s Nier is a cult-classic action RPG released in April 2010 on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 by Square Enix. Though the game released in several territories around the world in the span of a week, the Japanese release went the extra mile to tailor the game to each platform to appeal to different players. People who bought a PS3 copy received Nier Replicant – where the protagonist, Nier, is a young man fighting to save his sister, Yonah, from a mysterious illness in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where resources are scarce, and monsters called Shades roam the land. Those who bought the Xbox 360 version, Nier Gestalt, instead played Nier as a father fighting to save his daughter. Outside of Japan, players only got the Gestalt version no matter the platform, in an attempt to appeal to international audiences in a way other RPGs of the era did not.
The case for an enhanced Switch version of Nier is easy to make. It would unify both the Gestalt and Replicant editions into one game and let players choose which path they want to take. Square Enix has an incentive to take this project on, as Nier‘s sequel, Nier: Automata, released in 2017 to critical acclaim and an eventual Game of the Year re-release. It’s fair to say that there’s a lot of Automata fans out there that probably never played the original Nier, so a re-release of some kind might seem intriguing to them.
The issues I see preventing a new version from coming out boil down to resources, and the lack of a developer to work on it. Cavia, the original developer, closed after Nier came out, and Automata‘s developer, PlatinumGames, is busy working on several other titles, like Astral Chain and Bayonetta 3 for Nintendo. Square could do it internally, or farm out the work to a studio like Bluepoint Games (Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection) but I believe that Yoko Taro, the face of the series, would like to be involved somehow. Seeing a version of Nier on Switch isn’t impossible by any means – but I feel there’s just enough against it to classify it as a long shot.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1 and 2
The Marvel Ultimate Alliance games are co-op action RPGs built on the framework Raven Software developed for the X-Men: Legends series. Published by Activision, these two games came to a number of different systems, including the Wii, but were mainly seen as Xbox 360 and PS3 titles. Years later, the two games would be remastered for the Xbox One and PS4, but thanks to a number of stories about delistings and DLC disappearing, they never had the longest shelf life. Some fans wondered about a third game, but it never seemed likely.
Until, at least, Nintendo of all companies announced they were working with Team Ninja on Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order as a Switch exclusive meant to come out this year. Not just a third game in the series, but Ultimate Alliance 3 specifically. While it’s possible some fans played the previous games, they came out thirteen and ten years ago, respectively. Even with the HD re-release, it’s reasonable to believe there’s a good amount of gamers who haven’t experienced the series, and would like a Switch refresher in the run up to the new one. It could work out well for Nintendo, as it gets players caught up on the series progression, and markets the new one effectively.
However, Nintendo has yet to make a move. After The Game Awards 2018, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé gave a statement to IGN, saying that bringing the two titles to Switch has “not been an area of focus for us.” It’s still possible these two games will see a re-release, but it does weaken their chances. There’s likely a lot of licenses and red tape to get through to make it happen, even if Nintendo is already working with Disney on the new game. If it does happen, I’m thinking it’ll be like a lot of Switch ports, where the window between announcement release is pretty small, sometimes weeks or a month ahead of time. For this reason, I remain hopeful, even if the chances decrease by the day.
Final Fantasy XI
Still running since its 2002 debut on the PS2 in Japan, Final Fantasy XI is the first massively multiplayer online RPG in Square Enix’s marquee franchise. Over time, the game has also come to PC and Xbox 360, and received numerous expansions and story scenarios until the Rhapsodies of Vana’diel scenario in 2015 was announced to be the last. (The console versions of the game were shut down in 2016.) Still rocking a monthly subscription rate, it has been heralded as the most profitable Final Fantasy ever, and apparently has enough of a budget to last until its 20th birthday in 2022. A reboot for mobile phones has also been in the works for years, and occasionally the developer, Nexon, will release some screenshots, but they have yet to announce a release date.
How could a Final Fantasy MMO possibly work on Switch? Well, age and previous design choices play a big part here. It’s already been on two consoles, and was designed to run on early-2000’s hardware. We’ve already reached a point where a developer’s trying to put it on phones, so I believe a Switch version could work just as well, if not better. Something also to consider is how easy it would be to draw people into the game if Nintendo and Square offered a subscription with the Switch’s online service. If the base game is offered as a bonus alongside Tetris 99 when players sign up, I think it would lead to a massive influx of people trying the game for the first time. They could then charge for each expansion and make money that way, while the game experiences a shot of activity not seen in years.
Of course, being such an old game, it’s likely that a lot of people will bounce off quickly. As Heather Alexandra wrote in a Kotaku piece not three months ago – Final Fantasy XI is extremely unfriendly to beginner players. Plus, there are hardware questions to consider, like the availability of a decent mouse and keyboard, and the fact that, outside of Japan, there has yet to be an MMO on Switch (though, in Japan, Square has been running Dragon Quest X on the system since 2017). It seems possible that this could work, and with the release of Final Fantasy VII, IX, X, X-2, and XII, its release would fit in as a way to keep the brand active on Switch after the initial wave of releases ends. It would also be a great way to extend the game for years to come, especially if it incorporates any new features the mobile version will supposedly have.
Kirby: Air Ride
Long considered a black sheep in the Kirby franchise, Air Ride is a nostalgic blast for people that grew up with a Gamecube as a kid. Among the people I knew, it was spoken about in the same hushed tones as Super Smash Bros. Melee, and I personally sunk more time into unlocking achievements than I can count. Technically a racing game, Air Ride is best remembered for its City Trial mode, where up to four Kirbys are dropped into an open environment and given free rein to interact, collect stuff, and harass each other until the end of the round when everyone competes in a big race or minigame together. What makes the mode so fun is how it’s peppered with power-ups and different vehicle types so players can build the right ride for them, and also how the game included a decent amount of customization settings to make each round different from the last.
If Air Ride were given a barebones port to Switch, I think the game could be a lot of fun now. However, I think the best way to bring the game over is to release a Kirby: Air Ride Deluxe that allows for online play. The City Trial mode already lets players turn off the timer and cruise around for as long as they want – imagine if you could do that while hanging out with friends, occasionally griefing them by hitting their vehicle with yours until it explodes. If they want to get wild, Nintendo and HAL Laboratory could expand the game with more maps, achievements, and racing modes too, but at some point there’s a line between a Deluxe Edition and a full blown sequel, and I’m not trying to convince them to cross that line just yet.
My ideas aside, I’m not it’s the right time to revisit this title just yet. A port of Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn released last month on the 3DS, so I would think Nintendo and HAL would want to wait awhile before revisiting another title. They could just release the Gamecube version as a Switch download, but Nintendo has consciously avoided bringing any sort of Virtual Console to the system so far. My best guess is that, if Air Ride is coming to Switch, it’s still a few years off. It’s an incredible game that I don’t want left behind, but Nintendo likely has other games they want to revisit first (like Metroid Prime Trilogy), and I doubt this is at the top of the pile.
Disaster: Day of Crisis
Developed by Monolith Soft as their first console title after becoming part of Nintendo, Disaster: Day of Crisis is a quirky little Wii game that predates Xenoblade Chronicles by about two years. It’s best described as an action-adventure survival game, with liberal amounts of QTEs, minigames, and shootouts thrown in, and a cheesy attitude to seal the deal. The plot is reminiscent of the movie The Rock combined with every 90’s disaster flick ever. The protagonist, Raymond Bryce, is tasked to stop a military unit gone rogue from deploying a nuclear weapon, but gets sidetracked by a constant stream of earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and worse, as the day wears on. Released in Japan, Europe, and Australia in 2008, the fact that Disaster never got an American release, despite being set here, is a disappointment I still think about to this day.
By porting the game to Switch, Nintendo and Monolith could finally have the chance to right that wrong – and they don’t even have to spend a lot to localize it, as it’s already been released in English before. The game would need an HD kick, and a new control scheme that allows the game to be played on Switch (though the option to use the Joycons as a Wii remote/nunchuck stand-in should still be there), but I can see this title released as a $20-$30 downloadable game on the eShop and doing super well. It’s an underrated gem on the Wii and has B-movie charm to spare – seeing it get the proper release it deserves would be a dream come true.
But expecting it to happen isn’t all that realistic. According to Matt Casamassina and Mark Bozon on Episode 26 of IGN’s Nintendo Voice Chat podcast (around 24:18 in the recording), NOA President Reggie Fils-Aimé didn’t believe that Disaster was “a $50 game,” and also called the audio “laughable.” As the game failed to make a splash in any territory it released in, I imagine Fils-Aimé (who is coincidentally retiring in just a couple days) was more than okay with avoiding a release here. Other than his departure, not much will change about that. Porting it now might not seem like a good use of Nintendo’s or Monolith’s time, especially since Monolith has other projects in the works, and other games that should probably see a Switch port first, like Xenoblade Chronicles X. I’ll still keep talking about Disaster until someone listens, but it’s at the bottom of this list for a reason.
If you can think of any long shot ports that would be at home on the Switch, I’d love to hear them. Swing on over to my Twitter, email me at dcichocki(at)tiltingwindmillstudios.com, or just leave a comment below and share your dreams! I’ll respond to them and we can reminisce about how good video games can be – probably.