Jedi Knight 2 Is Absolutely Brutal On The Switch

Jedi Knight 2 Is Absolutely Brutal On The Switch

I loved the Jedi Knight games growing up as a kid. But I also played them on a PC, and replaying the opening five levels on a Switch in 2019 is an exercise in masochism.

Dark Forces 2 and Jedi Outcast are two of my favourite Star Wars games from the ’90s, and definitely some of the best DOOM/Quake spin-offs from that era. The levels are big and expansive, there’s plenty of hidden secrets and things to find, it’s complicated and involved in ways only ’90s singleplayer shooters can be, and the game really opens up when Force powers start kicking in.

But that’s also a huge problem with the Switch and PS4 re-release of Jedi Knight. It’s a completely faithful port of the original — perhaps too faithful.

Kyle Katarn’s doesn’t have any force powers when Jedi Outcast begins, and the first mission in Kejim Post is crawling with Stormtroopers, officers, and lots of oldschool FPS puzzling. Back in the day, that meant a lot of ducking in and out of corners, firing single charged shots from the blaster pistol because health pick-ups were far and few between.

The first mission alone could take around an hour if you didn’t remember the location of everything, not to mention any instances where you forgot to quick-save and got caught out by a band of Stormtroopers. (And don’t get me started on those bloody spiders in the Artus Mine mission, which are next to impossible to accurately target with JoyCons and the motion controls.) The save system is basically intact in the Jedi Outcast console version: the checkpoints haven’t been updated for modern sensibilities, so if you’re not regularly saving manually, then you’re going to find yourself retracing an awful amount of ground.

And that’s not even counting for the fact that a lot of Jedi Outcast‘s enemies and levels were designed to deliberately trip you up, or at least to make you cautious about progressing. Enemies will be peering down on you above from ledges and higher platforms as you walk through hallways. Future levels will have snipers that can nail you from half a mile away. Seven or eight Stormtroopers and officers will burst out of a door charging your way, and all you’ll have to deal with it is the horrifically inaccurate Stormtrooper rifle and not a lot of heatlh and shields to fight back with.

Back on a PC with a mouse and keyboard, all of this was a hell of a lot more manageable. With JoyCons, a Pro Controller or some other kind of gamepad, slaving through the initial Kejim and Artus bases are brutal. It’s literally painful enough that I would completely understand if people bounced off the game entirely, because a lot of that oldschool design just doesn’t translate well to 2019, even more so when you’re using a JoyCon that’s drifting and the Force expects you to have a degree of accuracy that even Splatoon doesn’t demand.

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Once you get a lightsaber, it’s a completely different story. You can block a certain amount of laser fire at will, Kyle can pull and push objects with abandon, and you’re free to roam around until everything you need gets into slashing range. The game’s much more manageable, and ultimately enjoyable.

But those first few hours? Good lord. Jedi Outcast was a game made in a time where developers were still working out how to make shooters work on a console. The original developers didn’t even try to make Jedi Outcast work on a console, and Aspyr’s port honours that completely.

Which is great in some senses — the lightsaber combat is still crazy good, the game rocks in multiplayer, and the performance is solid throughout. But maybe a bit of extra work to make Kyle Katarn’s adventure more palatable with the controls people are using in 2019 would have gone a long way. The Switch version has still got me jazzed for the old Star Wars games again — but I think for the sake of my sanity, I’ll replay the rest on PC.


  • I’m glad I wasn’t the only one!

    I have Jedi Outcast on both PC and Switch, and played the game when it first came out on PC back in 2002.

    Outcast plays… okay on the Switch, but the reason the PC version is vastly superior is not just because of hardware (e.g. more consistent frame rate – no drops, as well as faster loading times), but the keyboard and mouse control scheme makes combat so much easier, especially with the ability to hotkey Force powers to any key on the keyboard. There’s also the ability to add mods from the creative and dedicated mod community and it had multiplayer (I’m not sure if the multiplayer still exists).

    Jedi Outcast is a fun novelty for the Switch that unfortunately, doesn’t transition too well for console.

    I’ve found on the Switch that the controls (using a pro controller) can be tricky, it’s a bit annoying to have to manually scroll through weapons/Force powers, the frame rate drops during times of hectic combat (lots of enemies on screen) and the game has crashed on me numerous times. I found in my first two days of owning Jedi Outcast, it crashed on me over a dozen times.

    It’s only about $13 AUD or so on the Switch’s eShop, but if you’ve already got it on PC, it might be best to just stick with PC.

  • just got to bespin last night, and boy those first levels were far worst than i remember.

    i even had a game breaking bug when your meant to fight desaan the first time. i wasnt bothered doing it all again to i just used a cheat and went to the next level.

  • Spent so much time playing this when I was younger. Dunno how I feel about playing it without a mouse. It has such a great modding community and a really dedicated online community. I remember recieving my first “nude” as result of playing this game. I was playing in an online match, some rando just asked me for email address, then she sent me all these, um, “lightsaber” photos as a reward. I had to tell/show my then GF and she got mad and said I wasn’t allowed to play for a while. That’s when I discovered Baldur’s Gate. The end.

  • All 90s games were like this. I’m playing Black Mesa right now and Residue Processing. Fucking Residue Processing. It’s just not fun.

    But yeh. It’s the nostalgia that keeps me going. Jedi Outcast was a big game for me back in the day. It’s awesome to play it on switch. Just gotta keep it to short hits of 30mins or less.

    Loving how faithful the port is. It really brings back memories of ’02 strong. Could’ve done with some kind of auto-aim for the weapons though, jesus christ they suck!

  • I’m always playing this game as a pure FPS, none of lightsaber nonsense for me! Because there aren’t many good Star Wars FPS out there and this is definitely THE best.

  • To be fair, there was a GameCube port of Jedi Outcast and the devs had a unique smoothing algorithm for the joystick that somehow made aiming with the clunky GameCube joysticks manageable. It was manageable enough for me then to beat it through as a preteen while I also played it heavily on PC, the GameCube port devs did something magical to make gamepad playback quite pleasurable that the PC version never had.

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