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Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Nintendo Switch)

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Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Bloodstained-Ritual-of-the-Night-Switch.jpg
What is a port? A miserable little pile of garbage! How to turn a great game into an insufferable experience.
Protagonist(s): Miriam
Zangetsu (DLC)
Bloodless (DLC)
Aurora (DLC)
Genre(s): Metroidvania
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Release: WW: June 25, 2019
JP: October 24, 2019
Engine: Unreal Engine 4
Developer(s): ArtPlay[1]
Publisher(s): 505 Games
Country: Japan
United States
Series: Bloodstained
Predecessor: Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (by release date)
Successor: Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 (by release date)

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a Metroidvania game released in June 2019 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One, and was promoted as a spiritual successor to the Castlevania series. The initial release on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One was greeted with positive critic reviews, while generally being well-received by gamers. The Nintendo Switch version was delayed by a week and came out as a lower-quality product with many reviewers and gamers considering it a poor or incomplete port. The producer and creator Koji Igarashi was surprised the development team produced a Switch port with so many technical issues but it was released nonetheless with a "promise to patch and improve the game". Naturally gamers and reviewers lamented the quality of the port and despite efforts from the developer to improve it via patches, the product as it stands today is still a poor watered down port (with very inconsistent frame rates, low quality visuals, and some bugs that have not been ironed out yet despite the game being over three years old).

Why This Port Has Been Stained

  1. Many framerate problems such as:
    • High level of frame time inconsistency resulting in serious frame stutters. While subjective many gamers have reported in reviews and forum posts that frame stuttering was a large distraction and diminished their enjoyment of this port. Frame times have been improved via patches but 1% lows are still a problem - diving well below 30fps in some of the game's boss fights and more demanding areas. In most of Bloodstained's world though, the frame rate is close to 30fps and the game is playable.
    • Capped at 30fps (PS4 and Xbox One ports run at 60fps). The Switch has several games and ports of notable games, such as Dragon Ball: FighterZ, Mega Man 11, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Samurai Shodown (2019), Yoshi's Crafted World, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, R-Type Final 2, Fighting EX Layer: Another Dash, and Mortal Kombat 11 running with 1% lows above 30fps (with most hitting 60fps average). While not an apples to apples comparison (given different genres and gaming engines for some of the mentioned games), numerous developers are targeting 60fps with their games.
    • Many well received games and ports of games such as Dragon Ball: FighterZ, Samurai Shodown (2019), Fighting EX Layer: Another Dash, Yoshi's Crafted World, and R-Type Final 2 utilize Unreal Engine 4 which is the same game engine used for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
  2. The Switch port runs at a lower resolution compared to the other versions/ports (notably PS4 and Xbox One). The Switch port runs at 720p when docked and at 596p on portable mode. While acceptable on portable mode given the screen size (pixel density) and resolution, the problem when docked is that most modern TV's and Monitors are 1080p and above. The Switch port, when docked, looks jaggy and washed out on a 1080p monitor or TV with 720p interpolated to 1080p.
  3. Noticeable input lag compared to the other versions. Patches have improved matters but the Switch port is still not on a par with the PS4 and Xbox One port insofar as input responsiveness is concerned.
  4. Poor-quality textures, lower detail than other console ports, and blurry graphics. Patches have improved the fidelity but this port still falls some way short of what gamers can experience on other consoles.
  5. Low-quality visual effects, particularly water and shadows, compared to the other console ports. This has been improved via patches but the Switch port still falls some way short regarding fidelity.
  6. Longer loading times compared to the other console ports. This has been improved via patches but the Switch port still falls some way short regarding loading times.
  7. More bugs and glitches than the other console ports. Random crashing is still a major issue and occurs most frequently talking to NPC's.
  8. The port suffered from a rushed development cycle and was delayed one week after the other versions released.
  9. The latest patch did not improve much at all.
  10. It gets DLC/Patch support later than the other console ports.
  11. Related with #1 the later released iOS/Android port did get update to support 60FPS gameplay. The Switch port is still caped at 30FPS even while the Mobile ports received a 60FPS update (although this could be down to newer technology in some modern Android devices comfortably exceeding the performance capabilities of the Switch which is essentially utilizing 2015 hardware - so called using computational brute force to overcome poor optimization).
  12. False advertising: On the official Nintendo YouTube account and the February 2019 Nintendo Direct video, it shows video footage from the non-Switch version only to being the polar opposite of what the actual Switch port was like.
    • Related to the false advertising, the official Nintendo website page and eShop page shows screenshots from the non-Switch version while the video on the website is also the non-Switch version.
  13. With the release of the Steam Deck Handheld, you can now play the far superior PC version on the go now, rendering this port almost pointless.

Reception

Professional critics gave the Switch port somewhat middling reviews while fan reviews of the game are more binary. Citing Metacritic, approximately 41% of fan reviews are favorable regarding the Switch Port, 39% of reviews are negative, while 20% of reviews middling. Some negative reviews criticized the developers for putting what they believed to "so little effort into making the port". Criticism from some gamers also mused that a rushed port cannot be well optimized and the Switch performance issues are proportional to the level of optimization. Gamers often cite other games ported to the Switch with known demanding gaming engines (i.e. Witcher 3 and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice as great examples). Despite being subjective the general consensus among user reviews is that the Switch port falls well short of the graphical standards seen in other console ports (at least those that claim to have played more than one version). The presence of bugs that cause the game to crash along with some major frame rate dips in portions of the game make this port the least desirable version to play among a considerable percentage of gamers. There are some reviewers that ignore or downplay the Switch ports issues, i.e. Videogamecritic, and USgamer, while others consider the issues as being a major nuisance, i.e. [Metacritic user reviews, Reddit's Bloodstained subreddit, and numerous Youtube gamer content]. It is highly recommended to research the game before deciding on purchase since ones tolerance to the port's issues will vary person to person (i.e. 30fps vs 60fps debate, low graphical settings vs high graphical settings). Despite the negative press and reaction of the gaming community towards the Switch port, it enjoyed the greatest sales of all the versions, much to the dismay of some gamers on sites like Reddit whom disapprove of a poor port getting rewarded with such sales.

Trivia

  • During an PAX show in the same year, the Nintendo Switch overheated to the point where input issues and lag were often.
  • The game was originally planned to have Wii U and PlayStation Vita versions, but due to the systems lacking native Unreal Engine 4 support combined with the market for both rapidly declining during the games long troubled development, they were both eventually cancelled, with the Switch version replacing both of them as the Switch version took over the now canceled Wii U version not long after the Switch came out and the Wii U was discontinued, and the PS Vita version got cancelled in August 2018 shortly before Sony announced the PS Vita system production to end in September 2018 with the system production ending on March 2019, three months before the base game came out.
  • Although comparisons with the PC version should be taken with a huge pinch of salt (apples to oranges), the Steam requirements suggest a quad core processor (of similar performance to the i5 Devil's Canyon), 8GB Ram, and GTX 1050 TI (or something similar performance wise). However, numerous Youtube channels show this game running on much lesser PC hardware. For instance, the game runs at 60fps 1080p with high settings with an i3 (Pre Kaby Lake 2C/4T)/8GB DDR3/GTX 1050 GPU. To obtain Switch like performance, an early i3 like i3-3220, 8GB DDR3 Ram, and GT 720 will enable the game to run above 30fps at 720p with medium settings (graphic settings quality actually above the Switch port). Furthermore, a much older rig with Core 2 Q9400 and Radeon HD 7570 which is similar spec wise to a mid range 2007/2008 PC with Core 2 processor and GPU such as Nvidia 8800GT, can achieve 720p/30fps with inconsistent frame time graphs and lots of stutter (this PC demonstration is roughly what the Switch port plays like albeit it still has higher graphical settings than Switch). Finally, an entry level Laptop with bottom of barrel specifications (i.e. most definitely not a gaming rig at all) can achieve comparable results to the Switch using Discrete Intel HD graphics alone and low TDP mobile i3. To a casual eye something does seem way off when a Gaming PC of middling specifications from the year 2007/8 (and one lacking modern drivers for DX11/12), competing with 7th Gen consoles, produces similar results regarding performance of Bloodstained. That a 2016 low specification Laptop can run Bloodstained with similar or better graphical fidelity than the Switch is even more surprising, particularly when AAA content like Doom 2016, Doom Eternal, Witcher 3, Assassin's Creed IV and so on cannot run these titles at 1080p or 720p with playable frame rates on devices equipped with integrated GPU like Intel HD 520/530 (or 600 variants) yet do so, albeit with graphical compromises, on the Switch. Reasons for this are largely unknown although some gamers muse it is because of Unreal 4 not being well optimized for the Switch hardware which is debatable as their is plenty of well optimized UE4 Switch ports such as Snake Pass, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age, Dragon Ball: FighterZ, Samurai Shodown (2019), Fighting EX Layer: Another Dash, Yoshi's Crafted World, and Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time or the Switch's unique hardware (ARM processor and integrated Tegra GPU) was too unfamiliar to the development team to streamline the optimization of the game.

Videos

References

  1. Additional work by WayForward Technologies, DICO Co., Ltd., Disruptive Games, Inti Creates, and Neo Future Labs.

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