Port Report: BioShock (Nintendo Switch)
While its release was somewhat quiet (although arguably with good reason right now), 2K’s BioShock: The Collection has arrived on Nintendo Switch after being announced a few months ago. Including all three BioShock games, the package remasters the first two games and includes all the DLC for all three games (although it doesn’t include any of the content from BioShock 2‘s multiplayer mode, which was cut from this package). The whole thing comes to $60, but you can also purchase each game separately for $20. As such, I opted to grab just the original BioShock, as it’s the most horror-centric of the three (the other two games are much more action-focused and the horror drifts more into fantasy). How does this port hold up? Well, it’s kinda weird if I’m being honest.
I love the original 2007 BioShock to death. I’ve easily put 200 hours into it across multiple platforms and can recite much of its dialogue. I was eager to have one of my favorite games on the go, and firing it up, I found myself immediately taken aback by how poorly it seemed to run in handheld mode. The opening hour or so is startlingly fuzzy and pixelated, often looking comparable to how I’d imagine the title to run if it had released back on the PlayStation Vita.
Oddly, however, this visual weirdness seems to mostly evaporate after the first two or so hours of the game. Once I reached the Medical Pavilion (the second main hub area you can explore) the fuzziness appeared to be completely gone. I’ve never played a game with this type of problem and I don’t understand what could have possibly been making the game struggle so much during its big opening. It left a sour taste in my mouth and kept me on my toes for the experience to dip again, but it never did thankfully. It wasn’t just a fluke, either, I went back and replayed the opening segment multiple times in both docked and handheld modes and the same issue persisted. The game is locked at 30 FPS no matter what mode you’re playing in, which is a shame, and another aspect that sets it behind the other versions. Even though it’s a remaster, BioShock is a 12-year-old game; this should run better than it did two console generations ago.
Outside of this very weird and very specific problem, however, it’s still BioShock — which means it’s still one of the best games ever made. An incredible adventure through one of gaming’s most iconic locations and one of the most famous twists in all of gaming.
The game controls beautifully on Switch, and all of the bonuses that have been added to the game such as the museum and director’s commentary are all present. I am a little surprised there’s no achievement system, though. Even though the Switch doesn’t have a proprietary achievement system, lots of games (especially those with releases on other platforms) include an internal achievement system to retain that aspect of the experience. It isn’t like it’s some fatal flaw or anything, but it did make completing certain activities I’d done before (for the sake of clearing the achievements list) suddenly feel quite pointless. One other note is that some sound effects seem to have been removed, most notably the sound effect for saving. It isn’t a big deal, just very odd.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for BioShock on the go, you’re golden here. There’s been several ports and demakes on mobile platforms before (even going as far back as Java), but this is easily the best way to experience this classic while you’re out and about. I’m still very curious to know what happened there, but it’s easy enough to look past when it doesn’t affect the rest of the package at all.