Recently, I’ve been playing Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope on the Nintendo Switch. The original Mario + Rabbids was one of my favorite Switch games. So far this new entry is even better, adding more chaos and depth to the previous game’s already-great tactical action. But after owning a Steam Deck for a few months, returning to the Switch has been hard, especially as more and more new games run poorly on Nintendo’s aging handheld.
Since its release in 2017, the Nintendo Switch has gone on to become one of the most successful consoles in history. In August, Nintendo announced it has sold over 111 million Switch consoles, putting it comfortably in the top-five best-selling consoles of all time, right behind Sony’s PS4. Meanwhile, Valve’s Steam Deck hasn’t sold nearly as well, but the newer portable PC is making a splash among gamers as it lets players take most of their large Steam library with them on road trips and extended bathroom breaks. It also feels like the Switch Pro we still have yet to receive, letting me play 60fps games on my couch with ease. Meanwhile, the Switch is struggling just to run new games like Bayonetta 3. As such, I’m finding it hard to go back to Nintendo’s console in 2022.
Don’t get me wrong, I do go back, though not as often as before, because of Nintendo’s exclusives. Games like Luigi’s Mansion 3, Mario + Rabbids, and Kirby and the Forgotten Land all bring me back to the Switch because there’s no way to play these games anywhere else. (Well, there is, but Nintendo doesn’t like folks talking about that…)
And usually, I don’t mind coming back to the Switch (or prior Nintendo consoles) to play their fantastic lineups of exclusives; Nintendo’s own games have typically run great on its own hardware, even as other devs struggled. Sadly of late, it seems even Nintendo’s own exclusives are having problems with the aging Switch hardware. Bayonetta 3 runs like crap, and even my beloved Mario + Rabbids sequel chugs during certain sequences.
In years past I could usually forgive some performance hiccups, as Switch was letting me play new games on a totally portable console. How cool was that? (Very cool!) But now in 2022, I have the Steam Deck and it offers the same portability but with much better performance. Recently, I’ve been playing Alan Wake on the Deck and it runs wonderfully at 60fps with just a few minor tweaks. Meanwhile, Alan Wake on the Switch…well, that’s not as smooth of an experience, not by half. And like the Switch, I can plug the Deck into my TV or monitor and play all my favorite games on a big screen. But unlike the Switch, many of these games support a keyboard and mouse, multiple gamepads, mods, and cross-progression with other consoles. Valve’s elegant little PC is making the Switch feel more and more antiquated.
Of course, a more expensive piece of hardware that just came out this year is going to outperform Nintendo’s aging tablet/console from 2017. But even if it doesn’t seem fair to compare them, it’s impossible not to. And today, all I can think about when playing the Switch is how much nicer all these great games would look on a more powerful device like the Steam Deck. The Switch 2 or Switch Pro or whatever Nintendo calls its follow-up console can’t come soon enough. What’s more, I really hope it supports the entire existing Switch library, and with better performance than the current Switch. If not, well, the Steam Deck will just keep winning more and more of my playtime. It’s just a better experience now.