In recent weeks, my Switch has been virtually nothing but a Japanese role-playing game machine. (Okay, and a goose game machine.) The JRPG system's library continues to grow and follows the backlog of Final fantasy VIII, we have two more releases – and they are among the best so far.
First is there Dragon Quest XIcoming out today. It was the first game announced for the Switch – before anyone knew what the Switch was. Square Enix showed two different versions in 2015: a beautiful PS4 game with an extensive 3D world and a 3DS game with much simpler 3D graphics that could also be played in 16-bit 2D. A "Nintendo NX" version was also confirmed, but no one knew if it would be closer to the PS4 or 3DS iterations.
Here we are more than four years later: the NX is now the switch, and Dragon Quest XI is indeed on it. It is also by far the best version of the game.
At the moment I have played a lot Dragon Quest XI about different hardware. I played the 3DS version when it was released in Japan (it was never released anywhere else), then I played the excellent PC version when it first appeared in English; it is actually the PS4 game with better graphics and performance. I thought that would cover all my bases. But the Switch port is like an extensive Blu-ray box set that combines the best of all previous versions and adds great new features.
First Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition (to give the Switch version its somewhat ridiculous full name) is based on the PS4 version of the game, not on the technically less advanced 3DS version. It does not look so good of course, but in contrast to ambitious ports such as fate, I never got the feeling that it overloaded the hardware. The frame rate is good everywhere, and although it is not performed at native resolution on a TV or in handheld mode, it is not disturbingly blurry.
If this game had only ever been released for the Switch, no one would think it was poorly optimized. They would just say, "Wow, that's the nicest Dragon quest game ever. "Stay with the PC version if you absolutely want the best visual experience. But when you play this game for the first time, know that the visuals of the Switch are more than good enough. It's a fantastic game and it's great to see the unmistakable art of Akira Toriyama in HD.
It is also great to see it in 2D, which is an important selling point for Dragon Quest XI S: it contains the 16-bit mode of the 3DS version. This is the first time it can be played in English and it is a great addition. You can play the entire game in 2D as if it were designed for the Super Nintendo. It's like getting two games in one (or at least one game and the remake of a few decades later in one). Unfortunately you cannot switch between the two as desired. You must save in a church to change modes, after which the chapter begins again. I recommend that you continue playing one when you're done with the other or just keep two separate storage files.
This is also the best version of comfortably Dragon Quest XI from an audio perspective. The original Western release contains fully voiced characters with exaggerated regional British accents, which some people like, but … well, let's say they are not my cup of tea. On the Switch, however, you can play in Japanese with English subtitles, which is my preference. The original game was also destroyed with a terrible, blank synthesized soundtrack, which is now fully orchestrated. I still wouldn't say the music is great, but I haven't muted the game while listening to podcasts, which is more than I can say for the PC version.
Other additions include new chapters on stories, a photo mode and many small adjustments that ensure a smoother experience. You can speed up battles, call your horse wherever you are, make equipment anywhere, and so on. My favorite tweak is that when you run over an enemy on your horse, you now get a small, disultant amount of XP instead of none at all. And this should be obvious, but the game is now portable! Dragon quest is a perfect portable series, even when you play a bad mobile port on an iPad, so that's no surprise XI feels good for the switch.
What about the game itself? Well it is Dragon quest. If you have played one Dragon quest game earlier you know exactly what to expect. It is deeply conservative, fully conventional and extremely charming. If you are not, it is a great place to start. Dragon Quest XI doesn't do much that is new, but it is still one of the best games in the series. It is also the first time since the PS2 that a mainline entry has pushed technical boundaries on a home console. With the Switch version you get the best of all worlds.
The other JRPG that I have played is Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, which released Level-5 on the PS3 for the first time in 2011 and was released last week for the Switch. (In a possible unique parallel with Dragon Quest XI, Ni no Kuni also had a less extravagant DS version that Japan never left.) It is best known as the result of a collaboration with the legendary anime house Studio Ghibli, which produced art and animated cut-scenes for the game.
The Switch version is essentially a direct port of the PS3 original. It even runs at 720p on a TV, but the performance is solid and the art still looks great. Ni no Kuni was one of the most visually opulent PS3 games ever, and the classic Ghibli style makes it feel timeless. However, if you want a resolution improvement and don't care about portability, a remastered version of the game was released on PS4 and PC last week. (Significantly, the Switch version does not deserve the label & # 39; Remastered & # 39 ;.)
Although I loved the sequel, this is the first time I play the original Ni no Kuniand the two are very different. The first game has a whole element of raising pokémon-like creatures Ni no Kuni II abandoned, and the direct involvement of Studio Ghibli is also clear. The story is more emotional and grounded than the admitted story of the president's successor traveling to another world and helping a little boy take over the entire kingdom to overcome a rat rebellion.
I strongly prefer the more dynamic fighting system from the second game, and I also miss the urban-building aspect that it introduced. But I still enjoy it now. It is always beautiful and it feels authentic to the earlier work of Studio Ghibli, with a lot of heart and inventiveness in telling stories. Like Dragon Quest XI, it is worth playing on to see what an inspired creation is around the corner.
I know everyone says that everything is perfect for the Switch, but I think it applies more than most to JRPG & # 39; s. I have always liked playing them on portable systems, because it is easy to eliminate a few battles and make small progress when you only have a few minutes. But when it comes to epic, beautiful games such as Dragon Quest XI and Ni no Kuni, I'd rather see their stories play on the big screen. And you can do both on the Switch.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition and Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch are now available for the Nintendo Switch. Dragon quest Also has a free demo to try and your storage progress will be transferred if you purchase the entire game.