The Batman: Arkham Trilogy packages together three incredible games spanning two console generations and six years of evolving metroidvania sandbox design. Since we’re not getting a new one any time soon, it was great to hear they were finally coming to the Switch, but the end result is apparently a huge disappointment. Early footage of the games running on Nintendo’s handheld hybrid look, to put it mildly, rough.
Video game rendering experts Digital Foundry released their in-depth analysis of the Batman simulators ported by Turn Me Up and called them an “absolute disaster.” It’s not exactly surprising that Batman: Arkham Knight, a PS4/Xbox One blockbuster complete with a huge open world and a fast-moving tank, might struggle on the aging hardware. But according to Digital Foundry, even Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, PS3 and Xbox 360 games, feel disappointing on Switch.
Let’s take Arkham Knight first. The 2015 game was everything developer Rocksteady Studios had been building on in the first two games but bigger, and, for the most part, better. Digital Foundry’s video details lots of pop-in and framerate drops as Batman flies around the map, and even worse, visual stutters once he starts driving around Gotham in the tank-like Batmobile, which they say make it legitimately challenging to play at times. Batman even appears to jerk around at points when the game falls out of sync with the moving camera.
It doesn’t seem to look very good either. Digital Foundry calls it an “unattractive game” in addition to a jerky one. While lots of visual compromises aren’t a surprise, the lack of texture detail, ambient occlusion, and enemy activity down on the streets sounds like it makes the overall world feel more deadened than the moody, atmospheric Gotham sandbox players love the series for. It’s not even HD in handheld mode, with a resolution of just 540p. It really does sound like recommending Arkham Knight on Switch would be the equivalent of telling a friend to go watch The Dark Knight on a bootleg VHS.
Despite being older, Arkham Asylum (2009) and Arkham City (2011) have their problems as well. The Switch Trilogy versions are apparently both based on the old PC versions and thus are missing some of the visual upgrades in lighting and other details added in the PS4 and Xbox One Return to Arkham remasters. Visually, the games don’t seem noticeably worse than their original counterparts, but according to Digital Foundry the framerate remains a big drag, frequently dipping into the mid-20s. Weirdly, Asylum appears to run worse than City, which seems to mostly be an adaquate port all things considered. Hopefully, Nintendo puts an option on the eShop to buy them a la carte.
It’s not shocking that the Batman: Arkham Trilogy has issues on Switch, but I was hoping they’d be less dramatic, especially for the oldest game in the bunch. The bundle was originally supposed to arrive on October 13 but was delayed to December 7, possibly because of the above issues or even worse ones that have since been resolved. I guess if you’re one of those people that’s never had a gaming console before the Switch, and you don’t plan on buying another one, it’s better to experience these classics this way than not at all. Still, it’s a bummer. Maybe the Arkham Trilogy will run better on the Switch 2.
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